Does Cranberry Juice Make You Poop?
Cranberry juice is a tart drink that most people associate with its help in reducing the risk of UTIs, but other rumors persist that cranberry juice is also good for helping pass stool if constipated. Is there any truth to this rumor, and what other benefits does cranberry juice have?
Cranberry juice does not make you poop, but it does help your gut microbiome and offers numerous benefits to your health.
Published: January 4, 2023.
Cranberry juice has a number of benefits, and the best medical answer out there on whether it helps you poop is “sort of.” Keep reading to find out whether cranberry juice can help with constipation, see the other health benefits it offers, and learn how to handle constipation in a holistic manner.
Can Cranberry Juice Help You Poop?
There’s no dispute that cranberry juice is a healthy drink to consume in moderation. Not only does it have some merit (although medical consensus is mixed) in preventing the risk of UTIs, but it also contains heart-healthy antioxidants, proanthocyanidins, phytonutrients, and has strong research demonstrating its importance in gut health.
Whether it helps with constipation, however, is still up for debate. A 2019 study aimed to single out the effect that cranberries have on gut health, particularly focusing on the effects of the salicylic acid compound cranberries contain. This compound is responsible for the tart flavor we associate with cranberries.
This natural salicylate was found to lower the amounts of Enterobacteriaceae, a group of bacteria commonly associated with infections in humans. While the connection isn’t well understood, Enterobacteriaceae are found in higher levels in individuals with digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome.
In simple terms, the conclusion from these findings would suggest that salicylate in cranberries takes care of “trouble” bacteria that can impair digestive function; moreover, cranberry juice was shown in the same study to increase the levels of Bacteroidaceae, a gut bacterium long associated with digestive health.
Cranberry juice kills some bacteria—that much is clear, but the dosage of how much a person needs to consume to reap the benefits remains unclear.
It’s long been acknowledged that the compounds proanthocyanidins, isoprenoids, and xyloglucans all have positive proactive effects against gut bacteria associated with infection in humans.
Cranberry juice may help with constipation for the simple fact that it contains water. Dehydration is the leading cause of constipation, so simply drinking cranberry juice can help you give your body the nutrients it needs to pass stool more easily.
Of course, there’s no advantage to cranberry juice over plain old water for this purpose, and cranberry juice contains a fair amount of sugar and calories that make it impractical for meeting your daily hydration needs.
At the end of the day, cranberry juice can help your gut, but there’s no evidence to suggest that it has constipation-reducing qualities.
Other juices like prune juice, which are high in fiber, and apple juice, with its natural sugars, are a better option than cranberry juice, at least according to current research.
Why Drink Cranberry Juice?
Cranberry juice helps your gut, but it’s not likely to help you deal with constipation effectively, especially not compared to medication designed to help with constipation.
There are still a number of benefits to drinking cranberry juice to be considered. For a start, it’s worth addressing cranberry juice’s complicated relationship with UTIs.
Popular belief holds that cranberry juice is the cure all whenever you have a UTI, but the scientific link between the two isn’t as strong as most people think.
To sum it up, some studies show a tenuous link between drinking cranberry juice and preventing the risk of UTIs, while others see no reduction in symptoms at all.
Studies that do show a connection correlate the enrichment of Bacteroidaceae and the decrease of Enterobacteriaceae. The effects of these changes in relation to UTIs are still unclear.
Some swear by it, while others don’t see any results whatsoever. It’s certainly fair to say that cranberries are packed with healthy compounds that help the gut—over 150 to be precise.
Some of the key components that can reduce inflammation are flavonoids, phenolic acid, and anthocyanins.
These compounds provide a protective effect on the body, reducing the risk of heart disease and potentially reducing conditions that lead to cancer, as well as boosting overall gut health.
Cranberry juice, however, is not a treatment for any condition, so if your symptoms persist or worsen, don’t rely on home remedies; instead, consult a medical professional.
Can Cranberry Juice Treat Constipation?
Cranberry juice is not a treatment for constipation. If you’re having trouble passing stool, then there’s certainly no harm in taking cranberry juice, but you shouldn’t expect to see an immediate improvement.
The placebo effect may well be at play when people swear by this “superfood,” seeing results where there really aren’t any observable changes.
What Causes Constipation?
There are a number of causes of constipation, some of which can be treated with over-the-counter medication, while others require some degree of medical intervention.
- Medical conditions: Some illnesses, diseases, and conditions can impact the formation, movement, and passing of stool, leading to constipation. IBS is a common example, with 10-15% of the world population experiencing irregularities in their bowel movements that may result in constipation
- Medications: Some medications can worsen constipation, such as antidepressants, opioids, diuretics, and iron supplements. While constipation can be unpleasant, it’s better to keep taking these medications and speak with your doctor about the side effects rather than stopping them entirely.
- Lifestyle choices: A healthy lifestyle can facilitate the regular passing of stool, whereas some dietary or physical activity factors, like not drinking enough water, can contribute to constipation. Diet change can also cause certain issues, so when changing your diet, change it gradually.
- Aging – Older adults will often have to manage constipation due to changes in the way their intestines move.
How to Encourage Healthy Bowel Movements
Good bowel health begins with a healthy lifestyle.
- Cranberry juice: no kind of supplement; it will actually improve your bowel health all on its own dramatically. There are, however, a number of steps you can take to gear toward regular, healthy bowel movements.
- Dietary modifications: Your diet is one of the most important factors in encouraging regular stool movements. Make sure you’re getting a diet high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, aiming for 25 grams of fiber a day if you’re a female and 38 grams if you’re a male.
- Plenty of fluid: Dehydration not only causes constipation but a whole host of other harmful conditions in the body as well. You should be aiming between the 12 and 15-cup mark, such that your urine is a pale yellow color.
- Stay active: Physical activity is not only good for your body holistically but can also stimulate your intestines, keeping them limber and active. Exercises to prevent bloating, yoga, cardio, and more all have their benefits for proper bowel function.
- Going to the bathroom consistently: In regular bowel function, your body will generally prompt you to go at roughly the same time each day. Keeping a schedule can help keep you regular.
What’s the Best Approach to Treat Constipation?
Constipation is an unpleasant experience, and several options are available to make stool easier to pass. Consider the following options to help you poop instead of relying on cranberry juice:
- Fiber supplements
- Stool softeners
- Osmotic agents
Each one of these treatments works a little differently, with some softening the stool, while others focus on the bowel muscle movement to make stool pass more readily.
If your constipation issues persist long-term, your doctor may prescribe medication that can help you manage constipation symptoms.
In general, you should seek treatment for the condition after a few days of consistent constipation.
Signs Indicating Your Constipation Is a Symptom of Something Worse
Constipation for most people is just an unpleasant occasional occurrence, but if it persists, it can cause intestinal blockages and become a serious problem.
In a similar vein, constipation can also be a symptom of a more serious condition that requires medical treatment. If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical treatment:
- Blood in the stool
- The odor of feces on your breath
- An inability to pass gas
- Severe abdominal pain
- Bleeding from the rectum
Each one of these symptoms can indicate a more severe problem with your intestines that will require medical treatment.
If OTC medication and different lifestyle decisions don’t seem to help, then it’s time to consult your doctor about a different course of action.
Whatever you do, don’t keep cycling between different home remedies and myths that are supposed to help with constipation if your symptoms continue to worsen.
Home remedies are not a substitute for professional medical treatment, and cranberry juice, as wonderful as it may be, isn’t a fix for constipation.
Cranberry juice does not help with constipation, although it certainly contributes to a healthy gut biome and offers a wide range of benefits to your body.
If you’re feeling constipated, then there’s no reason not to have some cranberry juice, but if your symptoms persist, seek medical attention to address the root cause of the issue.
Long Story Short: Eat balanced nutrition, workout regularly, and stay hydrated, and most of these problems will be avoided.