Digestive Health and Prune Juice - The Natural Way

Problems with digestive health are fairly common but often the management of mild conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be as simple as a change in diet. In this article the most common symptoms are discussed along with the option of drinking prune juice as a natural remedy.


Mild digestive problems can be helped by introducing a regular intake of prune juice into the diet.

There is general agreement amongst health professionals that a healthy diet, regular exercise, a good intake of water and less stress will all contribute to self-managed digestive health, but what if you are finding it difficult to get the right balance of these factors? Fibre is not a new phenomenon, and there has long been an awareness that unrefined foods can help to promote health and longevity. Research has been ongoing, but despite this more and more fibre-depleted foods have found their way into our diets. Your lifestyle, age and health issues may mean that maintaining a well balanced diet and being active are not always possible.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Mild digestive health problems are very common. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), for example, affects many people at some time in their life. In fact IBS sufferers now account for one in ten people who suffer from a range of symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. According to The Gut Trust they also make up more than ten per cent of the workload of gastroenterologists in the UK.

Public health evidence also shows that mild digestive health problems can lead to complications and more serious complaints. The latest information from Cancer Research suggests that every day 100 people in the UK are now being diagnosed with bowel cancer.

There is a strong case for people to have a simple, drug-free, way to maintain their digestive health, to avoid some of the common complaints we have just highlighted and to strengthen, what is effectively, the body’s second line of defence for the immune system. A good quality prune juice is a good example of this kind of natural dietary ingredient. This is particularly effective in people with constipation as their main bowel symptom.

Prunes and prune juice are well known for their mild laxative effect and for their contribution to the maintenance of a healthy bowel because of the fibre and sugar alcohols they contain. Research has shown that prunes and prune juice naturally contain a high level of a sugar alcohol called sorbitol which metabolises slowly to support a healthy digestive process.

During the juicing process, the insoluble fibre is removed from prune juice, however, the soluble fibre and sorbitol are not removed and it is considered that the sorbitol content of prune juice is largely responsible for its mild laxative effect. The quality of plum at point of harvest and drying processes also play a key part in the levels of sorbitol in a prune juice. For people who want to help to counter the symptoms of mild digestive health problems the effectiveness of a high quality prune juice at relieving constipation means it will work quickly and less has to be consumed for the benefit to be delivered.

Common symptoms

Common symptoms of poor digestive health to look out for are:

  • Heartburn
  • Stomach pain
  • Unusual or different coloured stools (e.g. green, red, black and yellow, but note these can be caused by consuming quantities of certain foods e.g. green vegetables)
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue

If these symptoms are prolonged and/or are associated with other alarm symptoms such as weight loss, loss of appetite or difficulty in swallowing, consultation with your doctor is advisable.

Nutritional evolution

Some nutritional experts describe plums as ‘paleofoods’ meaning that humans have been eating these products for millennia, unlike modern foodstuffs such as wheat. The logic is that our bodies have been evolving and adapting to consume certain food types, and there is therefore a possible risk with the over-reliance on modern mono-agricultural products. The theory would make sense and it would therefore seem foolish not to make plums/prunes and other natural fruits a good part of a balanced diet just because we are waiting for more evidence.

For a list of the most frequently asked questions surrounding prune juice, including 'What is constipation?' and 'How much prune juice should I drink?' please see Prune Juice FAQs.

For further information on the author of this article, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Dr Purushothaman Premchand, please click here.
A common name for the large and/or small intestines. Full medical glossary
Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
A condition that is linked to, or is a consequence of, another disease or procedure. Full medical glossary
a common condition where stools are not passed as frequently as normal Full medical glossary
When bowel evacuation happens more often than usual, or where the faeces are abnormally liquid. Full medical glossary
A doctor who specialises in the digestive system and its disorders. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. Full medical glossary
irritable bowel syndrome, a combination of abdominal pain and constipation, diarrhoea, or bouts of each that occur in the absence of any other diagnosed disease Full medical glossary
The organs specialised to fight infection. Full medical glossary
A substance that cannot be dissolved. Full medical glossary
A large abdominal organ that has many important roles including the production of bile and clotting factors, detoxification, and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Full medical glossary
To break down or process substances in the body. Full medical glossary
the organ or the body where food is stored and broken down Full medical glossary
Relating to injury or concern. Full medical glossary