The Surprising Fruit That Improves Gut Health
Probiotic-packed yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut are rockstars when it comes to improving gut health, but fermented foods aren't your only ally when you're trying to spend less time in the restroom. A new pilot study published in the Molecular Nutrition and Food Research journal found that mangoes can help ease chronic constipation, which plagues 20 percent of Americans.
Mangoes Can Help Reduce Constipation
Researchers from Texas A&M University divided 36 adults with chronic constipation into two groups and studied them for four weeks. One group ate an entire mango (300 grams) each day while the other group consumed a daily teaspoon of a soluble psyllium fiber supplement (the stuff found in Metamucil). The fiber supplement contains the same amount of fiber as a whole mango. At the end of the four weeks, the researchers found that the exotic fruit helped reduce constipation symptoms in the participants significantly better than the fiber supplement had. More specifically, mangos improved stool frequency, consistency, and shape, in addition to developing better intestinal microbial composition and reducing inflammation.
"Our findings suggest that mango offers an advantage over fiber supplements because of the bioactive polyphenols contained in mangos that helped reduce markers of inflammation," Susanne U. Mertens-Talcott, corresponding study author and an associate professor in the department of nutrition and food science at Texas A&M University, said in a press release. "[The polyphenols in mangoes] changed the makeup of the microbiome, which includes trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in our digestive tract," Mertens-Talcott said. "Fiber supplements and laxatives may aid in the treatment of constipation, but they may not fully address all symptoms, such as intestinal inflammation," she added.
Next time you're looking to move things along quicker, ditch the laxatives and slice up some mango to snack on or even toss it into a pre-bedtime smoothie with a splash of unsweetened almond milk and cottage cheese for slow-digesting casein. Looking to further double down on discomfort? Pair the fruit with these 30 Best Foods for Constipation Relief.