The physician who sees a patient with constipation may suggest a first-line treatment that has no medicines. This treatment is known as high fiber therapy, involving increased consumption of fiber rich supplements and foods. Psyllium and bran are two examples of excellent seed-sources of fiber.
Most people have heard of products like metamucil which contain a high content of psyllium-derived fiber. Metamucil is a supplement agent manufactured by the big American firm Procter and Gamble. However, many people don’t know that there are natural high fiber sources too. Prunes are one such source. But more interestingly, prunes have something else besides fiber that can aid constipation.
Plums have been a part of mankind’s food source for many millennia. Archaeologist evidence shows large number of pits in waste sites that go back to ancient times. Then as now, the process for manufacturing prunes has probably changed relatively little. The plum fruit is harvested from the plant and then arranged in a cool oven structure. The plums are dehydrated at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for a little under 20 hours. The resulting prunes are collected for further processing.
The chemical ingredients of the prune have been found to be diverse and complex, which is likely to be a reason for its efficacy against constipation. But even though the chemicals can be analyzed and categorized, we still don’t fully know how they act on our physiology.
The main fact that is well-known and undisputed is that prunes contain a large amount of fiber. A less well-known but established fact is that prune juice has almost no fiber, yet still is able to provide constipation relief to people who drink it. The reason is due to its sorbitol content. Sorbitol acts as a bulk laxative, and acts synergistically with fiber.
On top of ingredients with laxative properties, prunes are a high energy source. The high energy is derived from its mix of both simple and complex sugars such as glucose and fructose. People who eat prunes get a quick energy boost as well as a sustained one from digestion of complex sugars.
There are many other compounds in prunes that we don’t fully understand but believe to be of benefit to health. For example, phenolic compounds might synergize with the natural laxative action. Potassium in prunes and prune juice are hypothesized to be good for heart health. Prunes seem certainly like a wonder food.
Although there’s no need to prepare the prunes in a special way before eating, a commercial food preparer in the United Kingdom stumbled upon a home recipe for treating constipation that involves blending prunes with other fruits and vegetables. The recipe, known by the name Beverley-Travis, has become famous and even studied for its efficacy in improving digestive health.