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Prunes and raisins for relieving constipation:

What foods causes constipate?  I've heard that prunes help, do raisins also help?

Constipation is generally caused due to a diet comprising of refined sugar, animal fats (dairy products, meats and eggs) and the most important lack of dietary fiber. A diet that is low in fiber is a common cause for constipation. So avoid foods that are low in fiber like processed foods, refined foods, junk foods, or instant foods. There is no one particular food that is responsible for causing constipation, but as a thumb rule keep in mind that foods that are low in fiber cannot benefit or relieve constipation. Prunes and raisins are in fact very useful in relieving constipation as they don’t lack fiber.

Like prunes, raisins also help; soak 4-5 black or green raisins in half a cup of water at night and eat in the morning with the water. This natural cure when followed regularly, along with a balanced diet rich in fiber and exercise will help to relieve your constipation problems. Besides these two foods, try the following tips mentioned below to ease your constipation –

  1. Exercise plays an important role in the management of constipation. Regular brisk walk or exercise especially of the abdominal muscles will help to improve peristaltic movements in the large intestine and prevent constipation. If you have any health problems, consult a specialist for an exercise prescription along with your medical prescription.
  2. Supplement your diet with natural sources of fiber. Include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, cereals and its products, pulses, sprouts and beans in your diet. Fresh fruits and leafy vegetables especially carrots, cabbage, spinach, radish, bananas, dried fruits like figs, raisins, prunes, apricots and dates are useful in treating constipation.
  3. Animal fats can lead to constipation as they lack dietary fiber, but this doesn’t mean that you need to exclude them and other fats from the diet altogether. Fat helps to stimulate the bile flow in from the gall bladder and also acts as a lubricant in the lower bowel thus making the defecation process easier. Foods containing fats and oils can be added in moderation in your diet depending on your weight.
  4. Drink a lot of fluids in a day especially water. Liberally include more than 10-12 glasses of water per day. Warm water with few drops of lime juice when taken early in the morning on an empty stomach works wonders for constipation.
  5. Lastly practicing good bowel habits is also very important, don’t suppress your urge to defecate due to certain conditions. Always attend all the calls on time to avoid the problem of constipation.

Raisins Constipation

Dried and shriveled, they may not be much to look at; however, raisins, which are essentially dried grapes, are a powerhouse of fiber and essential nutrients. Many deserts and dishes in Mediterranean cuisine call for the addition of raisins to their dishes. Whether you are cooking exotic pilafs or stirring up Asian or Arabic desserts, raisins provide a unique sweetness and chewy texture. Raisins are available in golden, green, yellow, purple, blue, and black varieties. Sun dried or machine/oven dried grapes turn into raisins used in cooking or consumed raw. Some processes may involve dehydrating the grape fruit until the sugars concentrate into the dried fruit. The high concentration of sugars may result in crystallization giving the dried fruit a gritty taste over time. However, dipping the grapes in lukewarm water makes it swell affording it the chewy texture once more. The market for raisins includes energy snacks for athletes, trail mixes for camping, smoothies, and shakes. 

Due to the drying or dehydrating process, raisins lose much of their original vitamin C content. However, they have powerful antioxidants, which are beneficial to our body. The darker the raisins, the more concentrated the amount of antioxidants in the dried fruit. In fact, the antioxidants in dried fruits such as raisins, prunes, apricots, and so on possess cancer curative powers. Not only do they boost your body’s immune system but they also fight the damage caused by free radicals. Here is a quick look at the various benefits of raisins with special emphasis on raisins for constipation.

Raisins and constipation. There is considerable dilemma over the question do raisins help with constipation. On the other hand, many people wonder do raisins cause constipation. There must be a reason why traditional medicine recommends eating raisins for constipation and modern medicine has followed suit. Before we understand the role raisins play in relieving constipation, let us look at a few symptoms and causes of this digestive condition. An individual suffering from constipation may find it difficult to pass stools, have hard compacted stools, experience frequent bowel movements, or may not experience bowel movements for over three to four days despite a regular diet. Factors for constipation may include lack of liquids in the diet, lack of exercise, prolonged ignorance of bowel movements, certain medication or lifestyle changes, and abuse of laxatives. Certain chronic conditions may also lead to constipation. For the most part, however, constipation may occur due to low fiber intake in our daily diet.

Are raisins good for constipation? How do they work? Doctors recommend 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber per day. If your diet is unable to contribute to this intake and you suffer from constipation, one natural solution involves consuming raisins. The body needs water-soluble fiber to aid digestion. It also needs insoluble fiber to add bulk to the body’s waste matter allowing for easy passage through the intestines. The dietary fiber in raisins helps to relieve constipation. Just as the dried fruit swells when immersed in water, consuming a moderate serving of raisins along with recommended intake of water and other fluids will provide substantial amount of fiber. In fact, consuming one to two servings of raisins per day will take care of your constipation problems. Since raisin is a natural product, it is a good remedy for constipation in kids and older individuals without the harmful side effects of habit-forming laxatives. Apart from fiber, the tartaric acid in raisin also relieves digestive problems by supporting colon health. It eliminates bad bacteria and maintains a balance between the good and bad bacteria in the intestines necessary for your intestinal system.

The antioxidants found in raisins are great for heart health. Recent studies show that consuming raisins may also help fight certain types of cancer and reduce the risk of tumors. Raisins are high in potassium and low in sodium. This makes it an excellent snack choice for individuals suffering from blood pressure and cholesterol. Consuming raisins in moderation may help individuals to maintain a healthy glycemic index. Raisins are a good snack for individuals watching their weight. The high dose of fiber and natural sugars will satisfy your hunger and stop you from overeating. For individuals who are underweight and want to put on healthy weight without the fear of cholesterol, the natural sugars and energy boosting power of raisins can help tremendously. However, if you suffer from blood sugar conditions like diabetes, it is best to consult your doctor before including raisins in your diet. The concentrated amounts of sugar in raisins may not be an advisable choice for patients suffering from diabetes. If you are a healthy individual, do ensure that you consume raisins in moderation.

Raisins may be the latest alternative for healthy eye vision. In some studies, the antioxidants in dried fruits such as raisins and prunes were more effective in preventing macular degeneration than fruits and vegetables. Phytonutrients in raisins may prevent the eyesight disorders and other eye diseases. In a study of menopausal women, raisins proved more effective in reducing the risk of bone diseases such as osteoporosis. A chemical compound called boron found in raisins plays an important role in promoting bone health. Raisins contain many acid compounds such as oleanolic acid, which fight dental bacteria. Raisins can help protect teeth from teeth decay, brittleness, and cavities. Raisins may also reduce the risk of certain gum diseases.

Raisins come from dried grapes, while prunes come from dried European plums. Just like raisins, prunes are a source of vast amounts of antioxidants called phenols. One of the biggest benefits of prunes includes its effectiveness in fighting and reversing damage to fat cells through the process of oxidation caused by oxygen radicals. Ample amounts of vitamin A or beta-carotene help the body fight against inflammation due to conditions such as osteoarthritis, asthma, and RA (rheumatoid arthritis). Potassium from prunes helps to stabilize blood pressure and promotes cardiovascular health. Moreover, it reduces bone loss in older people and menopausal women suffering from conditions such as osteoporosis.

Do prunes, like raisins, help with constipation? Yes, they do. Prunes are highly effective in relieving constipation, promoting better bowel movement, and addressing colon health. So how many prunes do you need to eat to relieve constipation? The dietary fiber in just a quarter cup of prunes can provide almost 12.1 percent of your daily fiber needs. Since two to three servings of fruit is essential for a well-balanced diet, adding a handful of prunes to each serving may benefit your digestive health substantially. The soluble fibers in prunes help to add bulk to the fecal matter allowing easier bowel movement. These soluble fibers also attach themselves to bile compounds and remove them from the body immediately. Thus, prunes help to cut down the time required for transit of fecal matter. Insoluble fibers in prunes provide the good bacteria in colon with feeding material. The action of fibers from prunes not only reduces constipation but may also lower the risk of cholesterol.

Incorporating the goodness of dried fruit such as raisins and prunes into your daily diet can be easy if you follow a few simple tricks.
•   Bottle all the dried fruits including raisins and prunes and keep handy for a healthy snack.
•   Homemade granola bars rolled in oats, raisins and prunes make a healthy pick me up snack during gym or sporting activity.
•   Include raisins and prunes into main courses such as stew, soup, juices, and shakes.
•   Sprinkle raisins and prunes on your leafy greens or add to vinaigrettes for flavor.
•   Stir in some raisins and prunes into your cake or muffin mix, breads, and other baking goods for a healthy dose of antioxidants.

If you find yourself suffering from constipation or irregular bowel movement, reach out for some raisins and prunes for relief. However, do not self-administer over prolonged period. If your condition persists, talk to your doctor and take these dry fruits under medical supervision.

Submitted on February 4, 2011