Digestive Health Myths
Myth: Dried Plums (prunes) cause diarrhea.
Fact: Research suggests that generally healthy adults can eat 10 to 12 California Dried Plums daily without significant changes in their bowel habits.1 Keep in mind that individual digestion and bowel habits vary. If you do not regularly eat foods with fiber, you may want to add California Dried Plums - or any food with fiber - to your diet gradually. Start with 4 or 5 California Dried Plums (which are considered one serving) a day, and gradually increase your daily consumption.
Myth: Everyone should have one bowel movement a day.
Fact: When it comes to regularity, everyone's different. Although having one bowel movement daily is a good frequency for some, there are many healthy people who have several movements daily and some who have as few as one every 3 to 4 days. The goal is to be symptom-free - i.e., no pain, abdominal discomfort, bloating, constipation sensation or heartburn - and the key is to eat a diet optimal to your personal health needs. Bowel movement frequency is a reflection of that diet.
Myth: Fiber causes bloating.
Fact: Fiber can help keep you "regular." It can bulk up the stool if it is "loose," and can soften the stool to some degree. One common reason that some people experience bloating with fiber intake is that they introduce fiber into the diet too rapidly. Increase fiber gradually. In general, the more fiber you consume, the better your health - especially when you replace low-fiber, fatty foods with fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.
Myth: Travel does not change bowel habits.
Fact: Many people find that when they travel, their digestive tract rebels, sometimes with irregular or more frequent bowel movements. Air travel can be dehydrating, and if one travels across time zones, the body's schedule is out of whack. So make sure you drink enough liquids when you travel. Also, take along items that help keep you regular such as California Dried Plums, bran cereal and ground flaxseed, and try to stay on your normal eating and sleeping schedule.
Myth: Dieting for weight loss improves regularity.
Fact: If you're overweight, losing weight is important for your health. However, one unfortunate side effect of weight loss, and especially rapid weight loss, is constipation. Consumption of low-calorie, fiber-rich foods is a prudent approach to preventing this. Physicians and dietitians sometimes recommend intake of dried plums, which can promote favorable bowel movement patterns in people trying to lose weight.
Myth: Eating at night will make you gain weight.
Fact: The big problem with night eating occurs when you have already met your daily calorie requirements but you continue to eat. Weight gain will occur because you're eating extra calories, not because those calories were eaten at night. Some people find that eating at night causes digestive discomfort, and it definitely should be avoided by those with heartburn. Otherwise, as long as the calories fit into the day, it is fine to incorporate an evening snack into one's eating plan.
Myth: Spicy food causes ulcers.
Fact: Some people with ulcers may notice that eating spicy foods can make them feel worse, but many people with ulcers tolerate spicy foods without problems. The most common causes of ulcers are infection with a bacteria called H. Pylori bacteria (such infections are treatable) and medication side effects, not hot sauce!
1Tinker FL, Schneeman BO, Davis PA and Gallaher DD. Consumption of prunes as a source of dietary fiber in men with mild hypercholesterolemia. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53:1259-65.