Grape juice has long been touted as a natural laxative. Some claim that its high water and fiber content can help promote regularity and relieve constipation. But is there any truth to this? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence behind using grape juice as a laxative.
What is Constipation?
Constipation refers to infrequent, difficult, or incomplete bowel movements. Symptoms may include:
- Passing fewer than 3 stools per week
- Hard, dry stools
- Straining during bowel movements
- Feeling like you can’t completely empty your bowels
- Abdominal pain and bloating
Constipation has many possible causes, including:
- Low fiber diet
- Lack of exercise
- Certain medications
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Hormonal changes
Mild constipation can often be relieved with lifestyle changes like increasing exercise and fluid intake. But severe or chronic constipation may require laxatives or stool softeners recommended by a doctor.
Grape Juice Nutrition
So what exactly is in grape juice that could help with constipation? Here is the nutrition profile for an 8 oz serving of grape juice:
The main components that could help relieve constipation are fiber, water, and potassium. Let’s look at each of these:
Fiber adds bulk to stools and helps keep them soft, allowing them to move smoothly through the colon. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like consistency when mixed with water, while insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Both are important for regularity.
While grape juice contains only a small amount of fiber, eating whole grapes with the skin provides around 1 gram of fiber per serving, which can add up over the course of a day.
Staying hydrated is crucial for preventing constipation. Water helps soften stool and makes it easier to pass. Dehydration can lead to hard, dry stools.
Grape juice has a high water content at around 88% water. This can help add fluid to the colon and hydrate the body.
Potassium helps balance fluids in the body and plays a role in muscle contractions. Low potassium levels could contribute to constipation by causing the intestines to contract more weakly.
One 8 oz serving of grape juice contains 12% of the RDI for potassium. Along with hydration, this mineral content could support healthy muscle function in the colon.
Other Grape Juice Benefits
In addition to possibly relieving constipation, grape juice has a number of other health benefits:
- Antioxidants – Grape juice contains antioxidants like resveratrol and anthocyanins that can protect cells from damage.
- Vitamin C – One serving provides 14% of the RDI for this essential vitamin.
- Vitamin K – Important for blood clotting. Grape juice contains 5% of the RDI.
- No Added Sugar – Store-bought grape juice typically has no added sugars, just naturally occurring grape sugars.
Note that these benefits apply to unsweetened grape juice without added sugar. Grape juice cocktails often contain added sugar, reducing the nutritional value.
Research on Grape Juice and Constipation
Very few studies have directly examined the laxative effects of grape juice. But some research suggests it could be beneficial:
– A study in rats found that grape juice helped increase stool frequency and water content of stool to improve constipation.
– Another rat study showed grape juice supported healthy intestinal muscle contractions to aid movement of stool.
– One experiment in raisins (dried grapes) showed they increased stool weight and helped soften stool in constipated subjects.
– Prunes, which are dried plums, contain a similar nutrition profile to grapes. Many studies have demonstrated prunes can relieve constipation.
Overall the evidence is limited. But researchers hypothesize the nutrients in grape juice could support regularity based on studies of its components like fiber and potassium. More direct research is needed.
How to Drink Grape Juice for Constipation Relief
If you want to try using grape juice to help get things moving, here are some tips:
– Drink an 8 oz glass first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. This allows it to reach the colon undiluted.
– Choose 100% grape juice with no added sugars. Look for juice made from Concord or dark grapes for more antioxidants.
– Eat the whole fruit instead of just juice to get fiber from the skin.
– Combine with other high fiber foods like oatmeal, flaxseed, beans, or bran cereal.
– Don’t rely solely on grape juice – be sure to get adequate fiber and water from other sources too.
– Give it a few days before assessing results. The high water content alone may gradually help soften stool.
– See a doctor if constipation persists more than 3 days or causes pain. Laxatives may be needed.
Downsides of Grape Juice for Constipation
Despite the potential benefits, using grape juice as a laxative also has some downsides:
- Very high in sugar and calories, which could worsen problems long-term.
- Not enough fiber on its own to adequately treat constipation.
- Due to sorbitol content, large amounts could cause bloating or diarrhea.
- Fructose and fructans could be poorly tolerated by those with IBS.
- Acidic and could aggravate reflux, gastritis, or ulcers.
- May interact with medications like anticoagulants or diuretics.
- Not recommended for babies under 1 year due to botulism risk.
For these reasons, grape juice is likely not the best solution as a standalone treatment. Combining it with high fiber foods, probiotics, magnesium, exercise, and water intake may be more effective. Speak to your doctor if constipation persists.
The Bottom Line
Here is a summary of the key points:
- Grape juice contains water, potassium, and a small amount of fiber that could help relieve constipation.
- Research specifically on grape juice for constipation relief is limited but promising.
- Drinking an 8 oz serving with breakfast may be beneficial, but should be combined with other approaches.
- Grape juice has downsides like high sugar, inadequate fiber, and potential to cause diarrhea.
- Speak to a doctor if constipation becomes chronic or severe instead of relying on grape juice alone.
While grape juice may provide some relief when used properly, it should not replace high fiber foods, exercise, probiotics, and hydration as safer, more effective ways to keep your digestive system regular. But enjoying the occasional glass of grape juice as part of a healthy diet certainly won’t hurt.
- Sangameswaran B, Madhu AN, Salimath PV. Effects of a purple grape products on constipation induced by loperamide in wistar rats. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017;11(3):FF01‐FF04. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2017/24890.9551
- Salem MB, Affes H, Ksouda K, Dhouibi R, Sahnoun Z, Hammami S, Zeghal KM. Pharmacological Studies of Artichoke Leaf Extract and Their Health Benefits. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2015 Dec;70(4):441-53. doi: 10.1007/s11130-015-0503-8.
- Pinho JP, Buratini J, Pinho RA. Effects of Grape Juice Supplementation on Biochemical Parameters, Inflammatory Status, and SBP in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 10;11(10):2425. doi: 10.3390/nu11102425.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. Grapes, red or green (european type, such as Thompson seedless), raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169283/nutrients.
- Yamada M, Tanabe F, Arai N, Mitsuzumi H, Miura M, Matsushima Y, Kibata M. Bioavailability of glucosyl hesperidin in rats. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2006 Nov;70(11):2686-94. doi: 10.1271/bbb.60198.
In conclusion, grape juice may provide some relief from constipation thanks to its high water content, potassium, and small amount of fiber. But relying solely on grape juice is unlikely to adequately treat chronic constipation on its own. For the best results, combine grape juice with other approaches like probiotics, magnesium, exercise, and especially a high fiber diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Speak to your doctor if symptoms persist. With the right lifestyle measures, you can keep your digestive system regular and feeling its best.