By Edi Csanalosi, Corporate Nutritionist

As my lovely teammate Sandrine Olmi reported earlier this month, April is IBS awareness month. And while she examined the subject from a catering perspective and explained what the IBS symptoms are and how corporates can cater for the increasing number of sufferers (you can read her article here), I’d like to introduce you to a fruit, that is very easily accessible and surprisingly, it can bring relatively fast, cheap and effective relief from some of the IBS symptoms.

Your unexpected new friend: kiwifruit

As a previous IBS sufferer myself, I was very grateful to learn about the benefits of this seemingly insignificant fruit: kiwifruit and how to use it for symptom and potentially cause relief.

Following through a comprehensive gut restoration programme with a registered nutritionist is always the recommended way to tackle your problems (especially if they have been bothering you chronically for quite a while), but as constipation can be a very common feature of IBS – and can actually be the cause(1) of all other symptoms like bloating, pain and the occasional diarrhea – I found it important to share some promising new findings about the benefits of using kiwi fruit and how to do it to clear constipation.

A study from Taipei (2) found that IBS sufferers who ate two or three kiwifruit a day for four weeks had less constipation and a general lessening of symptoms than those who didn’t.

Kiwi is high in fiber and has a high water content, which makes it a useful tool to get the bowels moving. It’s also an amazing source of vitamin C and potassium and very low in calories. (about 42 per fruit) (3)

Methodology

  • 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 examining the patients and healthy participants. All of them were asked to maintain a bowel movement diary to note the number of times they had bowel movements 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. 13 patients with IBS were given dummy capsules for comparison.
  • After completion of four weeks all participants again underwent colon transit time tests.

Results

  • 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 less 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.

Conclusion

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 fibre. 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.

So how can you use kiwifruit?

If you’d like to implement this cleansing digestive “kick-start” method, follow these few easy steps(4):

Always buy organic green kiwi fruit

  • Each morning for breakfast, have 2-3 of the fruit and shortly after drink 2 glasses of water (500ml)
  • Continue with this for 4 weeks
  • During the 4 weeks, avoid foods with added fiber supplement
  • After the 4 weeks and once the bowel movements start to improve, you can add flaxseeds to assist with clearing out the system.

Here’s my own IBS friendly smoothie recipe (after you’ve carried out the above 4 week plan)

Kiwi smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 kiwi fruit
  • Half a cup of chopped pineapple
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 150 ml almond milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Optional: handful of organic spinach leaves

Method: Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

If you’d like more sensitive gut friendly recipes to implement at work, in your canteen, for offsites, or to inspire your catering team, please get in touch, our team at SuperWellness is more than happy to assist with either workshops, training or advice to the catering management.

If you’re looking for individual advice and help to sort out your own gut health, also please don’t hesitate to get in touch. There is a solution – and personalised functional nutrition is just a dial or email away. Edi is more than happy to help.

Edina Csanalosi Associate and Registered Nutritional Therapist

Edi is a naturopathic Nutritional Therapist and Functional Medicine Practitioner running a busy clinic in the City of London. Her mission is to help clients get to the root cause of their health issues. Edi believes in the healing power of food, herbs, thoughts, and deeds. She believes that we have the power within to make decisions, and take actions that will help us to draw forth a life state reflected by the maximum expression of our health, vitality and happiness.

During a 10 year career in banking Edi herself experienced adrenal fatigue and burn out, and so she is well aware of the challenges that come with today’s fast paced city work life.

Passionate about helping city employees in demanding, success-driven roles to perform at their best using natural means Edi takes a holistic approach to help people achieve great work life balance, to become healthy again, and to be and feel their best. Edi is currently studying at the Institute of Functional Medicine to be a fully certified functional medicine practitioner.

 

References:

  1. Saha, L. (2014). Irritable bowel syndrome: Pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and evidence-based medicine. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG, 20(22), 6759–6773.
  2. The World’s Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=41, accessed: 13/04/2016.
  3. Chang CC, Lin YT, Lu YT, Liu YS, Liu JF. Kiwifruit improves bowel function in  patients with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2010;19(4):451-7
  4. Brown BI, (2015) The Digestive Health Solution. Exisle Publishing Pty Ltd