Prunes are not the magical fruit.
September 24, 2009 6:09 PM   Subscribe

According to this bag of prunes I'm eating, one serving only has 3 grams of fiber, which doesn't sound like very much. So (a) how did prunes get a reputation for being a cure for constipation and (b) is there something else I should be eating to get the desired effect?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It is not the fiber, its the dihydrophenylisatin, a chemical relative of Isatin which is a laxative.
posted by strixus at 6:12 PM on September 24, 2009 [11 favorites]

After about a pound more of those you'll have an explosive understanding.
posted by ZaneJ. at 6:23 PM on September 24, 2009 [5 favorites]

I was once having some dietary issues (ok, I was constipated) and I went out and bought a bottle of prune juice and a bag of prunes and set to work, and I have to say, boy howdy, that did the trick.

And now I've shared too much.
posted by kbanas at 6:31 PM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Prunes will do it, don't worry. You can also get the same effect from black licorice, I have unfortunately discovered.
posted by thebrokedown at 6:49 PM on September 24, 2009

It may seem low, but even fiber laxative only has 3g of fiber per dose too.

The only food I've run across that really has a lot of fiber is kidney beans. Usually around 6g per serving. But it's not like you can just eat a couple of them when the need arises.
posted by smackfu at 7:24 PM on September 24, 2009

I was about to say Dr Pepper because of the prune content, but I just found out I was wrong. It could be the caffeine in it, though. Do you drink anything with a lot of caffeine? If you don't, it should do the trick,as it will have a stronger reaction in that way in a non-caffeine drinker, I believe.
posted by chambers at 7:29 PM on September 24, 2009

If you are looking for foodstuffs that create splendid bowel movements, try some dried apricots. I almost took a picture, I was so impressed by the result.

Had some after work for a snack, and I just had homemade chili for dinner, so I am bracing for the well-known results of eating kidney beans. Combined with the apricots, it should be an interesting morning.

Anyway. Dried apricots. Try 'em.
posted by Savannah at 8:19 PM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

The fact that prune juice is reputed to have the same effect lends credence to the idea that it's not the fiber that's the key.
posted by amtho at 8:19 PM on September 24, 2009

Cracklin' Oat Bran, apple cider, or a lot of hummus.
posted by knile at 8:21 PM on September 24, 2009

One serving is also something like 3 prunes. I dunno 'bout you, but I can't ever stop at 3 prunes. That's almost like eating 1 oreo or 1 m&m.
posted by TomMelee at 8:37 PM on September 24, 2009

If you're just looking for a high fiber food, Mission Carb Balance Wheat tortillas have crazy amounts of fiber. The burrito sized ones (large) have 21 grams of dietary fiber. Now, I have never noticed results, so I've always been sort of suspicious that they can't possibly have that much fiber.
posted by artychoke at 8:43 PM on September 24, 2009

Two things have worked reliably for me: yogurt and oats (together), and flax seeds sprinkled on just about everything.
posted by greatgefilte at 8:59 PM on September 24, 2009

Prunes will do it. I once discovered that drinking a 64-oz. bottle of their juice will give you a fair understanding of what it's like to be a rocket.
posted by bryon at 9:40 PM on September 24, 2009 [6 favorites]

How long ago did you start eating the prunes? You have to give them some time to work, like 12-24 hours. If you load up on too many right now, you might scare yourself tomorrow.

If it's too late and you've already downed the bag, may I suggest keeping a box of premoistened baby wipes close at hand. Parts of you will thank me later.
posted by jamaro at 10:45 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

If your problem persists, my friend swears by Acai Berry juice (specifically this brand, which you can get at Costco, $10 for two 32-oz bottles). He won't stop singing its praises, over our protests ("TMI!"), and a few others have confirmed the effect.

I think you have to drink at least 10oz for it to do the trick. And, um, you should probably clear your schedule for the rest of that day.
posted by estherbester at 11:52 PM on September 24, 2009

We kept a bottle of prune juice handy for our first child, and add some to her bottle when she was constipated. If you overdid it her nappy would shoot off backwards and she would fly around the room dropping a fine brown mist on everything in sight. Ah, good times.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:58 PM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Apropos of thebrokedown's mention of licorice, under no circumstances let a cat eat black licorice, no matter how much he or she seems to be enjoying it.
posted by Lionel d'Lion at 5:47 AM on September 25, 2009

Yeah, seriously, just give it a little time. I can hear your GI tract rumbling from here.
posted by chinston at 6:09 AM on September 25, 2009

If the desired effect is sufficient to hurl you skyward by rocket action, and this is a one-off rather than an ongoing issue (or lack of issue?) try magnesium oxide powder.
posted by flabdablet at 6:43 AM on September 25, 2009

If you are very uncomfortable, and need the constipation to end right now, try an enema. Directions are on or in the box. Your problem will resolve in 15 minutes or less, and won't be scary. Note: Get the water one, not the mineral oil one.
posted by Houstonian at 7:42 AM on September 25, 2009

Fiber shouldn't come blasting out of you. It can/should effect the consistency. As already mentioned, prunes have their rep. because of laxative effects.

Smackfu, one server of lentils includes about 15g of fiber, as do black beans. Along with that, lentils have 17g of protein and blackbeans have 15. But blackbeans at least make me gassy without beano, so I'm all over the lentils. Artychoke; if the buritos have a decent amount of beans/lentils, 21g of fiber is definitely realistic. But again, fiber != laxative.

If the OP is looking for non-explosive softening effects, or to increase regularity, I doubt that a double serving of lentils will disappoint. However, make sure to up your water intake, or you could still end up constipated, and needing some prunes.

Weird; I'm a big black licorice eater, and have never had laxative effects from it. I do get colour effects however.
posted by nobeagle at 8:07 AM on September 25, 2009

nobeagle: It's the plain tortillas themselves that have 21g of fiber. Hence the skepticism. Now, if I make a lentil and black bean burrito, dang...
posted by artychoke at 8:41 AM on September 25, 2009

Never, ever, ever eat more than one Fiber One bar in a day. I promise. Do not do it.
posted by pyjammy at 11:15 AM on September 25, 2009

helped me: dissolve some honey in warm water and drink.
posted by mirileh at 1:18 AM on September 26, 2009

"Blasting Cap" Birchermuesli

Okay, first you dice up...

- 2 bananas
- 1 large apple

Toss in a bowl with...

- 0.5 c dried cranberries
- 2 c old-fashioned oats
- 0.5 c oat bran
- 0.5 c chopped walnuts (toast in a dry skillet if you have time - and of COURSE you have time! What else are you going to be doing? Pooping? HA!)

In another container, whisk together...

- 1 c plain nonfat yogurt
- 1.5 c skim milk
- 0.25 c brown sugar, packed
- 0.5 tsp fresh-grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp vanilla

Dump the wet stuff over the dry stuff; mix thoroughly. Add more skim milk if it's more gravelly than smooth.

Delicious as hell (I can eat it for breakfast and lunch every day for a week and not get bored 'til Thursday) and VERY EFFECTIVE. As in, "wow, I'm glad my office has those fancy pressure-assist toilets, otherwise I'd have to slink out in shame, never return and be remembered for all eternity as That Girl Who Left a Louisville Slugger in the Third Floor Ladies' Room".
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:08 PM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

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