Do Grapes Help Your Digestive System?

Low in calories and high in nutrients, grapes are a nutritious and delicious snack that the whole family can enjoy. Because grapes are high in fiber, they have also been linked to improved digestive health; however, in most cases, research has failed to indicate that eating grapes is more beneficial for digestive health than eating other types of fruits.

Aiding Constipation

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week. Oftentimes, people also experience other symptoms, such as bloating, fatigue and pain when trying to pass stool. The NIDDK estimates that more than 4 million Americans experience frequent constipation. To relieve constipation, experts recommend eating a diet that is high in fiber. Grapes are a significant source of insoluble fiber, which the Mayo Clinic explains aids and promotes the movement of materials through the digestive system, reducing the likelihood of painful, difficult-to-pass stools. Eating grapes can also help to prevent dehydration, a factor that contributes to constipation, because grapes are comprised of 80 percent water, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database.

Fighting Food-Borne Illness

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While most fruits are high in fiber, not all fruits have been studied as a potential treatment for food-borne illness caused by bacteria, such as E.coli and Salmonella. Research conducted at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that both red wine and grape juice consumption inhibits the growth of certain harmful bacteria responsible for food-borne illness. Probiotics — microorganisms found in the digestive system that are vital for digestive health — were not effected by the consumption of either drink. While research is still ongoing, researchers believe that resveratrol, a phytochemical found in the skin of red grapes, is responsible for the beneficial effect that drinking red wine and/or grape juice has in preventing the growth of harmful pathogens in the digestive system.

Fructose Intolerance

For some people, eating grapes results in digestive health dysfunction because they contain high amounts of the sugar fructose. Types of fructose intolerance range from fructose malabsorption, which can cause abdominal pain, gas, bloating or diarrhea, to hereditary fructose intolerance — characterized by a variety of more serious symptoms, including vomiting. According to the Mayo Clinic, both fructose malabsorption and fructose intolerance can be managed by avoiding foods containing fructose.

Grapes and Diarrhea

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While eating a diet high in fiber has been associated with reducing the incidence of diarrhea, eating grapes is not recommended for those who have frequent loose stools because they contain high levels of insoluble fiber rather than soluble fiber. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, soluble fiber aids in the treatment of diarrhea because it passes more slowly through the digestive tract, absorbing water as it moves. Insoluble fiber, which passes more quickly through the digestive system, does not share these absorptive properties.