Why do dried fruits have aperient (laxative) effects?

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Christopher King

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Christopher King  asked the Naked Scientists:
Why do prunes, dried apricots etc. have the cleansing effect that they do.
From Chris, currently watching the soccer in South Africa!

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 19/06/2010 05:30:02 by _system »


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Why do dried fruits have aperient (laxative) effects?
« Reply #1 on: 19/06/2010 10:40:25 »
Fruits - dried or fresh - are a rich source of soluble fibre; this is material that is not absorbed by the intestines and instead remains within the bowel contents where it binds water; this increases the faecal water content and hence bulk. This promotes intestinal motility and the softer consistency makes the resulting stools easier to pass.

Dried fruits tend to be even more effective at provoking this result because - by virtue of being dried - they are less filling than their fully hydrated fresh counterparts and hence we tend to eat more of them in a portion; this means that the dose of soluble fibre, which is unaffected by the drying process, is higher and hence the aperient effect is more, shall we say, apparent!

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