Pomegranate juice has become an increasingly popular beverage in recent years due to its nutritional benefits and antioxidant properties. Some research suggests that pomegranate juice may also have positive effects on digestion and bowel function.
Pomegranate Juice Nutrition
Pomegranates contain high levels of polyphenol antioxidants, including tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid. These compounds give pomegranate juice its characteristic red color and are thought to be responsible for many of its health benefits.
An 8 oz (240 ml) serving of pomegranate juice provides (1):
|Vitamin C||16% of the RDI|
|Vitamin K||12% of the RDI|
|Potassium||14% of the RDI|
Pomegranate juice is high in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. It’s also a good source of dietary fiber.
Effects on Digestion and Bowel Function
Here’s a look at what research says about how pomegranate juice may affect digestion and bowel function:
May improve digestion
Some evidence shows pomegranate juice may aid digestion by stimulating the secretion of bile and gastric acids (2).
One study in rats found that giving pomegranate juice daily for 4 weeks increased the activities of digestive enzymes in the small intestine, improving food digestion and absorption (3).
Another rat study showed that pomegranate extract lowered intestinal inflammation and strengthened the gut barrier, which could reduce symptoms like gas, bloating, and diarrhea (4).
May act as a prebiotic
Pomegranate juice contains compounds like polyphenols that may act as prebiotics by feeding the good bacteria in your intestines (5).
One study had 32 people drink 8 oz (240 ml) of pomegranate juice daily for 4 weeks. Pomegranate juice increased beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli (6).
Boosting healthy gut bacteria through prebiotics may improve digestion, immunity, and overall health.
May prevent and treat diarrhea
Several studies indicate pomegranate may help prevent and treat diarrhea due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
In one study, extract from pomegranate peel significantly reduced diarrhea and intestinal fluid secretion in diarrheic rats. It also shortened the time it took for diarrhea symptoms to resolve (7).
Another rat study found that pomegranate peel extract blocked the growth of disease-causing bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, which could help prevent diarrheal illnesses (8).
While these results are promising, more research is needed on pomegranate’s effects on diarrhea in humans.
May relieve constipation
Drinking pomegranate juice may also help get things moving if you’re backed up. The juice’s nutrients and antioxidants could aid digestive function.
One study found that giving mice with constipation pomegranate peel extract increased the frequency, weight, and water content of their stools (9).
Another study showed that pomegranate juice increased stool frequency and softened stool consistency in humans after 4 weeks, suggesting it may be useful for treating constipation (10).
May improve inflammatory bowel disease symptoms
Some research indicates pomegranate may reduce inflammation and improve symptoms in people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (11).
Animal studies demonstrate that pomegranate extract may reduce gut inflammation and ulceration in IBD. It may also strengthen the intestinal barrier, potentially decreasing permeability and bacterial translocation (12, 13).
One study had people with ulcerative colitis drink 8 oz (240 ml) of pomegranate juice daily for 4 weeks. Certain inflammatory markers significantly decreased, and antioxidant levels increased (14).
More studies are needed, but pomegranate shows promise as a complementary therapy for IBD.
Other Potential Bowel Benefits
Here are a few other ways pomegranate juice may improve bowel function and digestive health, according to preliminary research:
- Its antioxidants may protect against oxidative damage and inflammation in the intestines (15).
- Ellagic acid may inhibit tumor growth and proliferation in the colon (16).
- Punicalagins may have prebiotic effects that alter the gut microbiota and reduce colon inflammation (17).
- The juice may decrease risk factors for colon cancer like inflammation, oxidative stress, and unhealthy gut bacteria (18).
That said, more human research is needed.
Many studies finding digestive benefits of pomegranate juice use around 8 oz (240 ml) per day. Drinking a glass of pomegranate juice daily appears to be effective and safe for most healthy people.
Keep in mind that pomegranate juice is high in sugar, with about 24 grams per 8 oz (240 ml) serving. Be sure to factor this into your diet if watching your sugar intake.
Pomegranate extracts in capsule form are also available in powder, liquid, or tablet form. Follow the dosage instructions on the product you choose.
Side Effects and Precautions
Pomegranate juice is generally well tolerated with minimal side effects. However, some people report (19):
- Allergic reactions
- Upset stomach
- Loose stools
Pomegranate may also interact with certain medications, including (20):
- Blood thinners
- Blood pressure medications
- Cholesterol drugs
- Some antidepressants
Speak with your healthcare provider before trying pomegranate juice, especially if you take any medications.
The Bottom Line
Research indicates drinking pomegranate juice may benefit digestion in several ways, including:
- Boosting healthy gut bacteria
- Preventing diarrhea
- Relieving constipation
- Reducing intestinal inflammation
Pomegranate juice contains important nutrients and plant compounds that appear to aid overall digestive function. Include it as part of a healthy, balanced diet to potentially reap the digestive rewards.
Start with 1 glass (8 oz or 240 ml) per day and monitor your tolerance. Those with digestive issues or on medications should check with their healthcare provider before drinking pomegranate juice.