Kiwifruit Improves Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common bowel problem.  Patients suffering from it complain of belly aches with diarrhea and/or constipation. This study attempted to look at the effects of consuming kiwifruit in IBS patients with constipation. After taking the fruit for four consecutive weeks, patients reported better bowel movement per week. It was also seen that these patients developed faster movement in their intestines, thus decreasing the stagnation within the bowels that commonly leads to constipation. Authors concluded that kiwifruit “improves bowel function in adults diagnosed with IBS.”

IBS may affect about 10 to 20 percent of the general population. It leads to several symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort, notably constipation and diarrhea or both. Although this condition is encountered frequently, the actual pathology and definitive treatment is still not known. Currently, management of IBS includes modification of diet to include 20 to 35g of fiber and also some medications like laxatives. Kiwifruit has been shown to possess 2 to 3 percent fiber and also some laxative properties. This fruit has been successfully tried in the older age group with constipation. However, no studies have attempted to use kiwifruit in the treatment of IBS with constipation. This study attempted to explore the benefits of kiwifruit in IBS patients with constipation.

* For the study 54 patients with IBS and 16 healthy volunteers were recruited. This study spanned six weeks.
* The first week of the study was spent in examining the patients and healthy participants. All of them were asked to maintain a bowel movement diary to note the number of times they defecated per week. Also, a test to assess the time taken for the fecal material to pass their colons was undertaken. This was termed as colon transit time.
* After this period the participants were given a couple of Hayward green kiwifruits (Actinida deluciosa var) per day to be taken daily for four consecutive weeks. Thirteen patients with IBS were given dummy capsules for comparison.
* After completion of four weeks all participants again underwent colon transit time tests.

* Results showed that IBS patients with constipation had better and more frequent bowel movement after consuming kiwifruits for four weeks.
* Results from colon transit time also revealed that patients who consumed kiwifruit had shorter colon transit time meaning lesser stagnation and better bowel movements.
* Another significant finding was that the healthy volunteers on kiwifruit did not show any change of bowel movement and remained normal. Thus, the fruit consumption in normal individuals had no ill effects.

Next steps/Shortcomings
Authors agree that one of the major shortcomings of this study was the small study population and the short duration of the study. They suggest further long-term studies with more patients to have a better understanding of the benefits of kiwifruit consumption. Authors also found that this study did not explore the psychological benefits of reduction of IBS symptoms in patients. Hence, they suggest further research in this area.

This study shows that kiwifruit is a “safe and effective dietary intervention for facilitating laxation.” Studies have revealed that this fruit has excellent water retaining capacity and provides a good amount of dietary fiber. A combination of these two features makes it ideal for the management of constipation. Kiwifruit enhances the bulk of the fecal matter and also reduces stagnation in the colon. IBS may lead to severe deterioration in quality of life and cause depression and other psychological problems.  At present, commercially available medications are not free of side effects, but kiwifruit can be a safe and natural dietary modification that can provide relief.

For More Information:
Kiwifruit Improves Bowel Function in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation
Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010
By Chun-Chao Chang, MD; Yi-Ting Lin, MSc; Taipei Medical University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, and Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.

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