Prunes and Dates: A Good Dietary Staple to Help Constipation
Last updated: May 2023
As I have written about previously, I tended to run on the IBS-D side of the spectrum most of my life as an IBS patient.
IBS and constipation
Constipation was usually an infrequent experience and only became a problem a few times in my younger life, usually alternating pretty consistently with diarrhea. Then for many years, it wasn't a problem at all. However, for whatever reason, I noticed that a few months after I had a hysterectomy to treat adenomyosis (a sibling diagnosis to endometriosis, in which endometrial cells invade the muscles of the uterus), I started experiencing constipation again.
IBS and endometriosis procedures
This was unfortunate because the hysterectomy was great in almost every other way. I was finally relieved of the debilitating menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding that characterized my monthly periods (sometimes getting them twice a month). The hysterectomy also seemed to significantly reduce–to the point of nearly altogether eliminating–my PMS issues. My bladder problems–diagnosed as Interstitial Cystitis and overactive bladder, also dramatically improved to the point of being nearly (if not completely) non-existent. And finally, on the IBS front, I went months without any episodes of diarrhea. I hadn't experienced that long of a reprieve in some 20 years. To this day, 3 years after the surgery, I still rarely get these episodes the way I did prior. But sadly, I am now much more prone to constipation.
Managing IBS symptoms
I've written about things I have tried before with varying levels of success. I bought a Squatty Potty. I started taking a daily Magnesium supplement (which also benefits my migraines). I sometimes also add a Vitamin C supplement with Magnesium to get things moving, which often helps. I boosted the amount of supplemental powered fiber in my daily routine and added a new kind of fiber (Miralax). For a while, things were much better. But for whatever reason, I started experiencing constipation again this fall, and all my usual tricks were not working. As the holidays approached, it worsened to the point of adversely affecting my quality of life. I was staying home and skipping events I otherwise wanted to attend because I felt so bloated and uncomfortable and worried I would finally have to go when I was out and about.
I started to feel despondent and resorted a couple of times to suppositories for some short-term relief (with my doctor's okay). But I didn't want to rely on them because they can make things worse over time.
Trying new (and old) strategies to treat IBS
One thing my doctor had recommended, which I had tried a couple of years ago when things started going awry after the surgery, was adding prunes back into my diet. I am not super fond of prunes. They don't taste bad but don't appeal to me much. So when I became more regular a while back, I gave them up.
I repurchased a bag last month and integrated them into my daily routine the way I had in the past to make them more palatable: I cut a couple of them up into my daily cereal/oatmeal mix. It took a day or two for me to notice the difference. While I did see some pretty good improvement, my gut still felt a little more sluggish than I'd liked, like not everything in me that needed to come out was coming out. So I added a couple of dates (which I like somewhat more than prunes) to my nightly ritual as a simple dessert after dinner.
The difference has been remarkable.
I try not to overdo it so I don't tip the scales in the other direction. I ensure to have only two prunes in my morning breakfast and two dates after my evening supper. This is also all in addition to my other steps (daily Magnesium, probiotic, and supplemental powered fiber in my morning tea).
Hopefully, the positive effects of these dietary additions will continue. I will keep it up as long as I see the benefits!
Have you added prunes and/or dates to your diet to relieve constipation? Have they helped? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.
Do you have trouble trying to balance your diet with multiple illnesses?
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