Does Cranberry Juice Help You Poop?

Cranberry juice is often connected with reducing the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs), but can it help with constipation too?

Cranberry juice has many health benefits; it can hydrate the body, fight bad bacteria in the gut, and promote good bacteria, all qualities that may help you pass a bowel movement and improve digestive health. However, these results are not guaranteed. 

If you are looking to relieve constipation, it is recommended to speak with a doctor to find a way to alleviate your discomfort.

Does Cranberry Juice Make You Poop?

The research surrounding cranberry juice and pooping does not definitively say that it is more effective than other liquids at helping you poop. Still, two benefits of cranberry juice may help with bowel movements.

Fighting Dehydration

For many people, constipation may occur because of dehydration. Since the body requires water to make stool easier to pass, drinking too little can make it difficult for the digestive system to accomplish this because the stool becomes more compact.

By drinking a liquid such as cranberry juice, you can help with your dehydration and promote bowel movements.

While cranberry juice can help in this way, there is no evidence that it accomplishes this better than plain water. It is also important to consider the calories associated with cranberry juice, which can add up over time if taken regularly, contributing to weight gain.

Improve Your Gut

When it comes to constipation, it is essential to look at the health of the gut, and the components of cranberries may help to promote its health, leading to more regular bowel movements.

The Cranberry Health Research Conference published a report in 2016 stating that they found cranberry juice to contain isoprenoids, proanthocyanidins, and xyloglucans. These compounds may be able to protect against harmful gut bacteria, such as E.coli. E. coli is a bacteria that those with digestive conditions such as IBS often have a higher amount of, so protecting against these harmful bacteria may prevent constipation and other digestive symptoms.

Yet another study isolated salicylic acid in cranberries which, in addition to decreasing the amount of harmful bacteria, can also increase the amount of Bacteroidaceae, which are good gut bacteria that may help with digestive health.

These qualities suggest that the compounds in cranberry juice could help protect the digestive system and promote good digestive health, leading to more regular bowel movements.

How Does Cranberry Juice Affect Your Bowel Movement?

Cranberry juice can affect bowel movements by increasing fluids, which makes it easier for stool to pass through the digestive system. Since it also contains calories, it can help to stimulate a bowel movement.

Does Cranberry Juice Help with Constipation?

Constipation is not a pleasant experience, often causing abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea.

There are many causes of constipation, some of which include:

  • pregnancy
  • eating low-fiber foods
  • not exercising enough
  • dehydration
  • stress
  • eating a lot of dairy products
  • certain medications (e.g., strong pain medications, NSAIDs, allergy medications, antidepressants, certain blood pressure medications, antacids)

Certain medical conditions can also cause constipation, such as diverticular disease, colorectal cancer, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), endocrine disorders, or neurologic disorders.

Because of the many different causes of constipation, it is impossible to say that cranberry juice will help relieve all causes of constipation. However, cranberry juice can improve gut health and increase hydration, which may help with constipation. 

Can Cranberry Juice Cause Diarrhea?

Cranberry juice can cause diarrhea, but only when you drink a large amount of it. Additionally, it is not just cranberry juice that can cause this effect, but any fruit juice that is drunk in large quantities.

What Other Health Benefits Does Cranberry Juice Have?

Cranberries may be small, but they contain more than 150 bioactive compounds, such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. These compounds may offer you some health benefits:

Prevent UTIs

Cranberry juice is commonly associated with UTIs, specifically with being used to prevent them. While laboratory-based studies show that cranberry juice should offer some protective effects, though, human studies show less-conclusive results.

A 2017 study on women over the age of 60 who received a urinary catheter following surgery did not find cranberry juice to be effective at preventing UTIs.

However, a 2019 study did find a connection between UTIs and cranberry juice, and it was primarily cranberry juice’s ability to enrich good gut bacteria and control the growth of bad bacteria such as Enterobacteriaceae.

So, cranberry juice is not the most effective way to prevent UTIs, but it might help. 

Lower Blood Pressure

The properties of cranberry juice may help to lower your blood pressure, with a 2015 study on both men and women showing that drinking cranberry juice helped lower diastolic blood pressure.

Cancer-Fighting Properties

A 2016 review found that cranberries can promote cell death, which helps reduce cancer cells’ growth.

However, there do not yet exist any short- or long-term studies that show definitive proof that cranberry juice can help reduce the risk of cancer.

What Else Can Help You Poop?

Other juices may be more effective in helping you poop than cranberry juice, such as prune juice, which has a high fiber content. Apple juice is another alternative that is high in sugars that have mild abilities to reduce constipation.

Another way to help with bowel movements is by consuming a diet high in fiber, which includes vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Combining this with drinking plenty of water helps your digestive system.

Getting regular exercise can also help to stimulate your intestines, which can help you to poop.

When To See a Doctor

If you are experiencing constipation along with any of the following side effects, it is recommended to visit a doctor.

  • severe abdominal pain
  • blood in the stool
  • unexpected new onset of constipation
  • unintended weight loss

Get Help from An Online Doctor

If you suffer from constipation, meeting with an online doctor through DrHouse can help you find a treatment that eases your discomfort and makes your bowel movements regular again.

Key Takeaways

There is not a lot of research to support the benefits of cranberry juice and pooping. Still, it offers many health benefits for the digestive system, including increasing hydration and promoting good bacteria in the gut. Cranberry juice may also help to prevent UTIs, lower blood pressure, and fight cancer cells. However, because of the sugar in cranberry juice, it is best to look for low-sugar versions or drink it only in moderation.

Other fruit juices, such as prune or apple juice, can help those suffering from constipation. Other actions you can take include eating high-fiber foods, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly.

Sources

  • Blumberg, J., Basu, A., Krueger, C., Lila, M., Neto, C., & Novotny, J. et al. (2016). Impact of Cranberries on Gut Microbiota and Cardiometabolic Health: Proceedings of the Cranberry Health Research Conference 2015. Advances In Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 7(4), 759S-770S. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.3945/an.116.012583 
  • Rodiño-Janeiro, B., Vicario, M., Alonso-Cotoner, C., Pascua-García, R., & Santos, J. (2018). A Review of Microbiota and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Future in Therapies. Advances In Therapy, 35(3), 289-310. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1007/s12325-018-0673-5 
  • O’Connor, K., Morrissette, M., Strandwitz, P., Ghiglieri, M., Caboni, M., & Liu, H. et al. (2019). Cranberry extracts promote growth of Bacteroidaceae and decrease abundance of Enterobacteriaceae in a human gut simulator model. PLOS ONE, 14(11), e0224836. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224836 
  • Weh, K., Clarke, J., & Kresty, L. (2016). Cranberries and Cancer: An Update of Preclinical Studies Evaluating the Cancer Inhibitory Potential of Cranberry and Cranberry Derived Constituents. Antioxidants, 5(3), 27. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.3390/antiox5030027 
  • Gunnarsson, A., Gunningberg, L., Larsson, S., & Jonsson, K. (2017). Cranberry juice concentrate does not significantly decrease the incidence of acquired bacteriuria in female hip fracture patients receiving urine catheter: a double-blind randomized trial. Clinical Interventions In Aging, Volume 12, 137-143. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.2147/cia.s113597 
  • Novotny, J., Baer, D., Khoo, C., Gebauer, S., & Charron, C. (2015). Cranberry Juice Consumption Lowers Markers of Cardiometabolic Risk, Including Blood Pressure and Circulating C-Reactive Protein, Triglyceride, and Glucose Concentrations in Adults. The Journal Of Nutrition, 145(6), 1185-1193. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.3945/jn.114.203190 

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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