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Why does green juice help you poop?

Green juice has become an increasingly popular health drink in recent years. Made primarily from leafy greens like kale, spinach, and parsley, green juice provides a concentrated dose of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. One of the touted benefits of green juice is its ability to help keep you regular and promote healthy bowel movements. But why exactly does green juice have this effect?

The Laxative Effects of Greens

Many of the vegetables found in green juices, including spinach, kale, and parsley, contain significant amounts of dietary fiber. Fiber moves through your digestive system undigested, adding bulk to stool and helping food pass more quickly through your intestines. This alone can stimulate bowel movements. However, certain types of fiber found in greens may have additional laxative effects.

For example, spinach and kale contain high amounts of mucilage, a soluble fiber that absorbs water and swells as it moves through the digestive tract. This adds softness and size to stool, stimulating the intestines to contract and pushing out bowel contents. Parsley also contains a type of fiber called apiin, which draws water into the stool and acts as a very mild, natural laxative.

Phytochemicals That Promote Gut Health

In addition to fiber, green leafy vegetables provide an array of beneficial phytochemicals that promote gut health in various ways. For instance:

  • Spinach contains glycoglycerolipids, fatty compounds that help nourish and protect intestinal cells.
  • Parsley provides apiol and myristicin, volatile compounds that can relax intestinal muscles.
  • Kale is high in isothiocyanates, which have anti-inflammatory effects in the gut.

By supporting healthy digestion and bowel function, these and other phytochemicals in green juice greens can help keep you regular.

The Role of Juicing

Drinking vegetable greens in juice form rather than eating them whole may enhance their laxative effects for a couple reasons:

  1. Juicing condenses the fiber and nutrients, delivering a more concentrated dose to your digestive tract.
  2. The juicing process breaks down plant cell walls, making the fiber and beneficial compounds more accessible to your gut.

In support of this, one study found that people who drank a juice containing spinach, kale, and parsley experienced improvements in constipation symptoms and stool consistency compared to a control beverage.1

Other Constipation-Fighting Ingredients

Some green juice recipes also include additional ingredients aimed at combating constipation, such as:

  • Apples – Apples provide pectin fiber, which adds bulk to stool.
  • Citrus fruits – Oranges, lemons, and limes contain the soluble fiber pectin and bowel-stimulating vitamin C.
  • Prunes – Prunes are dried plums very high in fiber with natural laxative sugars.
  • Flax or chia seeds – The mucilage fiber in these seeds soaks up water and expands in your gut.
  • Aloe vera juice – Aloe contains anthraquinone laxatives known to increase intestinal contractions.

When paired with green leafy vegetables, these supplemental ingredients can boost the overall laxative effects of green juice.

Putting It All Together

Here is a summary of why green juice supports healthy bowel function:

Green Juice Ingredients Effects
Fiber from greens Adds bulk to stool and stimulates contractions
Mucilage, apiin, and other specialized fibers Absorb water, soften stool, and gently stimulate bowels
Phytochemicals like glycoglycerolipids, apiol, and isothiocyanates Support gut health and healthy digestion
Juicing process Concentrates nutrients and fiber from greens and enhances bioavailability
Supplemental ingredients like apples, aloe, and chia seeds Provide additional fiber, vitamins, minerals, and compounds that support bowel regularity

The combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, gut-healthy phytochemicals, and natural laxative compounds in green juice can effectively help get things moving through your digestive tract. Drinking green juice may be an easy and nutritious way to help prevent or relieve constipation.

Tips for Using Green Juice to Relieve Constipation

Here are some tips on using green juice to help relieve or prevent constipation:

  • Drink an 8-12 oz serving of green juice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to maximize laxative effects.
  • Include a mix of higher-fiber greens like spinach, kale, parsley, and chard.
  • Add some apple, lemon, aloe vera, or flax/chia for extra constipation-fighting power.
  • Aim for at least 2-3 servings of green juice per day for continued relief.
  • Combine with other high fiber foods and plenty of water.
  • See a doctor if constipation persists longer than 3 days to rule out other causes.

With continued use, green juice can often provide lasting relief from constipation without the need for harsh laxatives. Just be sure to rotate greens and avoid overdoing the highest-fiber options, which could lead to diarrhea or GI upset in some cases.

Conclusion

Drinking green juice, with its potent blend of fiber, nutrients, and phytochemicals from leafy greens, can be an effective and natural way to find constipation relief. The fiber adds bulk to stool, while specific compounds help draw water into the intestines and gently stimulate contractions. Juicing also condenses and enhances these constipation-fighting ingredients in greens. Adding supplemental ingredients like apples, aloe, and chia further promotes healthy bowel function. Using green juice to maintain regularity is typically safe and well-tolerated, making it a nutritious go-to for combating constipation.