Wellness Blog

Figs for Constipation

Posted on July 5, 2017 at 1:10 AM

Americans spend over $2 billion a year on laxatives to deal with constipation. Between 24% to almost 50% suffer with chronic constipation. For those relying on laxatives and stool softeners, foods to improve digestive health may be a better choice. A new study has added figs to the list of effective foods to aid intestinal health and relieve constipation.

Figs are grown all over the world. Approximately 99% of the U.S. crop in grown in California. Figs have a unique, sweet taste; a chewy texture with an added crunchiness in their seeds. Most often figs are dried creating a sweet and nutritious item that can be enjoyed throughout the year. Figs are high in natural simple sugars, minerals, fiber, and flavonoids.

Historically, figs have served as a laxative. An Added benefit is the ability to nourish and tone the intestines. Recent studies have shown fig consumption lead to increases in the production of mucin that lines the intestines, as well as improved intestinal contractions that propel food through the intestines. Addition of figs also shortened the time fecal material stayed in the colon. Science showed the figs had a pronounced prebiotic effect.

Fig research was conducted on people suffering functional constipation. Functional constipation is defined when people experience reduced stool frequency (e.g., less than 3 bowel movements a week), hard stools, and difficulty or straining passing stools. Functional constipation is different from the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The abdominal discomfort or pain, and a change in stool frequency or consistency characteristic of IBS are missing.

The colon transit time for fecal movement was reduced from 63 hours to 38 hours. Stool consistency was improved, as stool was softer with fig consumption. Results show eating approximately 3 figs per day results in significant improvement in bowel function in patients suffering from chronic constipation.

Dianna Richardson, ND © 2017


Baek HI, Ha KC, Kim HM, et al (2016). Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Ficus carica paste for the management of functional constipation. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 25(3):487-96.

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