Posted March 3, 2009on:
A single eight-ounce glass of prune juice offers 12% of the daily-recommended allowance for fiber. It’s no secret fiber is one of the most important factors for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Surprisingly, few people understand how prune juice affects the digestive system.
Structure of the Digestive System
The digestive system is composed of five major organs — the gallbladder, intestines, liver, pancreas, and stomach. These organs work together to ensure the nutrients from food are broken down and transported into the bloodstream where they transfer into various cells.
Digestion begins with chewing. The saliva in your mouth mixes with the food you eat and begins to break it down into smaller particles. In your stomach, those particles mix with digestive enzymes coming from the liver (bile), gallbladder (bild), and the pancreas (insulin). These enzymes turn the particles into a liquid that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Any left over matter travels through the intestines and eventually is passed as a bowel movement.
An Unhealthy Digestive System
If your digestive system is operating poorly, your body can’t receive the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Some signs of poor digestion include constipation, excessive gas, heartburn, and stomachaches. To keep your digestive system performing well, it’s essential to follow a high fiber diet and to stay hydrated.
Improving Digestive Health
These simple tips can increase your digestive system’s overall health:
- Avoid stress
- Exercise daily
- Stop rushing through meals
- Cut back on excess sugar and fats
- Abstain from alcohol in any form
- Drink at least sixty-four ounces of purified water daily
- For more flavor, stick to decaf tea and 100% organic juice instead of colas
Proper hydration keeps organs running like hand-built Italian sports cars (well, maybe not that perfectly but pretty good). A single glass of organic prune juice provides your organs with additional fluid and also bestows many nutritional benefits.
Benefits of Prune Juice
Pure prune juice is rich in fiber, antioxidants, and potassium—a necessary component in maintaining a healthy heart rhythm. Prune juice contains more antioxidants (nutrients purported to slow the aging process) than blueberries. These antioxidants help cells work their best and are able to absorb nutrients readily.
Nutrients in organic prunes supporting digestive function include:
- Calcium – Assists the body in processing carbohydrates, fat, and protein
- Copper – Helps convert carbohydrates into energy
- Iron – Helps regulate the flow of oxygen to cells and organs
- Magnesium – Boosts enzymes for breaking down carbohydrates
- Niacin – Aids the body in processing sugars and fats
- Pantothenic Acid – Assists the body in metabolizing nutrients
- Phosphorus – Helps balance the metabolism
- Potassium – Regulates the balance of fluid and essential minerals
- Selenium – Keeps cells healthy so they can absorb nutrients
- Sodium – Regulates the flow of fluids throughout cells
- Thiamin – Converts carbohydrates into energy
- Vitamin A – Helps the body manufacture healthy cells
- Vitamin B6 – Helps convert protein, fats, and carbohydrates into energy
- Vitamin C – Aids the body in healing damaged tissue and cells
- Vitamin E – An important antioxidant assisting with cell regeneration
- Zinc – Helps convert protein, fats, and carbohydrates into energy
Fiber is also an important component of prunes, though not a nutrient. Prunes are replete with insoluble fiber, which serves a few important functions. First, this fiber soaks up huge amounts of water. Water normally gathers in your intestines, causing waste to be passed easily and quickly through the eliminatory system.
Constipation can prevent the digestive system from working effectively, so prune juice acts as an agent in preventing constipation so things keep flowing smoothly. Second, the insoluble fiber found in prunes feeds the helpful bacteria within your intestines. By increasing the helpful bacteria, the disease-causing bacteria are driven out. In fact, a link exists between increased fiber consumption and the prevention of colon cancer. This factor alone should be reason enough for you to drink a little prune juice every day!
Your pancreas helps produce insulin needed to maintain proper blood sugar levels. Evidence proves prune juice can help stabilize blood sugar levels. The soluble fiber within prunes lengthens the time it takes for food to leave the stomach. This slows down the rush of glucose into the circulatory system after a meal, preventing spikes in blood sugar levels. Many nutritionists believe prunes can play a part in decreasing the incidences of Type II Diabetes.
Prunes have gained a rather negative reputation throughout the years as being just for constipated old folks. Sadly, this connotation has overshadowed prunes’ true benefits. A prune is really nothing more than a dried plum; and prune juice is a form of plum juice that has gone through a distillation process. Many people find the syrupy taste of the juice to be off-putting, but some versions provide a tarter flavor that even kids seem to enjoy. Therefore, you can partake of the benefits of prunes without giving up the flavor of fresh plums if that encourages you to consume this healthful snack.