The #1 Fruit To Fix Your Gut Issues
As I write this during a pandemic, many of us are thinking about getting all of the Vitamin C we can. One of my favorite ways to get Vitamin C is by eating kiwi, which is also amazing for gut health! Did you know that it has almost three times the amount of Vitamin C found in oranges and strawberries when compared by weight? (1) And while we’re talking trivia, here’s something to impress your friends with: kiwi was originally called Chinese gooseberry, but re-branded by New Zealand, who named it after their national bird. Who knew!?
But I digress. Not only is kiwi high in Vitamin C, but it’s also been proven to significantly increase Vitamin C levels in the blood, along with decreasing blood pressure and waist size. (2) The real reason that I love this sweet little fruit, however, is its positive impact on gut health. If you’re familiar with my work, you know that I emphasize that gut health is pivotal to overall wellness. So anything that significantly benefits the gut is going to have a regular spot in my kitchen. Read on to learn why it deserves a spot in your kitchen too!
Kiwi Improves Gut Health
One of the most important determinants of gut health is the balance of the trillions of bacteria that live there. Two of the most important good bacterial strains are lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. These are known as probiotics. Foods that increase the levels of probiotics are called prebiotics. Research shows that when you eat kiwi, it increases the amount of probiotics in your gut, and is therefore a prebiotic food. (3)
Furthermore, kiwi improves digestion. It contains a proteolytic enzyme called actinidin, which means that it helps to digest proteins. Therefore, pairing kiwi with a meat-heavy meal will increase your ability to maintain gastrointestinal comfort and not get as much bloating or indigestion. Indeed, a study showed that adding kiwi to a steak meal led to less bloating. (4)
As your gut gets more balanced by having more good bacteria and better digestion, symptoms tend to improve. This is great news because those of us who have struggled with bloating often find fiber and fruit exacerbates the issue. Kiwi allows us to both get fiber and feed good gut bacteria, without creating the extra gas that’s typical of other fruit such as apples. (5)
Kiwi Improves Gut Symptoms
In my line of work, you get really comfortable talking about poop! It’s such a great indicator of gut health, which as I said earlier, is essential to overall health. So if you’re not already, start paying attention to how often you go and what it looks like!
Very few foods, or even supplements, have the ability to improve the movement of stool through the gut and make bathroom time easier. Kiwi is one of those select foods. Studies show that it can increase the softness and volume of stool, as well as the frequency. (2) It helps to draw more water to the stool, and increase the intestinal contractions to keep things moving.
Even if your gut is already pretty healthy, you can still see improvement and optimization with eating kiwi. A 3-day trial in healthy volunteers demonstrated better bowel movements and a more optimally formed stool (from slightly hard to perfectly soft) with 2 kiwi twice per day. (6)
If you’re struggling with constipation or IBS, on the other hand, you’ll see an even greater improvement with eating kiwi. 2 of the fruit daily over 4 weeks helped IBS patients go from 3 bowel movements to 4 per week, and there was less discomfort associated with going to the bathroom. (7)
To sum it up, a review study pointed out that in healthy people, the elderly, the constipated, and those with IBS, kiwi leads to increased stool “frequency and reductions in bowel transit times as well as positive changes in overall wellbeing.” (8)
Don’t Be Afraid of the Carbs
You may be thinking, but doesn’t fruit have sugar and carbs, and therefore should be limited or avoided? When sugar and carbs are consumed in their whole food (unprocessed) form, and combined with fiber and antioxidants, they generally don’t have a negative impact on blood sugar.
Indeed, studies show that blood sugar doesn’t spike after eating this fruit. They have such a low glycemic load that eating 2 small kiwis is equal to 1/10th of a potato in terms of average blood sugar response. (9)
In addition, adding kiwi to a sugary or high-carb meal can actually lower the glycemic index of that meal (10). So don’t be afraid to indulge even though they taste sweet!
How To Eat More Kiwi
Until recently, the fuzzy skin intimidated me. To avoid having to interact with it, I used to only eat kiwi frozen in my smoothies, which allowed me to get away with not removing the skin. Yes, the skin can be eaten, but it weirds me out. For this reason, I’d blend it in a blender so I couldn’t detect it. Fortunately, I overcame my fear of hairy fruit and stand here today as a proud kiwi peeler!
The easiest way to peel the fruit is when it’s soft but not yet wrinkly. Chop off the two ends, and cut in half horizontally. Then insert a spoon down along the inside of the skin, and rotate the spoon around the kiwi to separate the skin. Ta da! Now what do you do with it? Here are some ideas to get you started!
Spicy Fruit Salad
Chop half of a medium jicama, one pound strawberries, and 4 kiwis. Squeeze the juice of a half a lime over it and add a dash of cayenne. Serves 6.
Tropical Chia Pudding
Stir 1.5 tbsp of chia seeds into 1/3-1/2 cup of coconut milk, depending on desired thickness*. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to thicken. Top with diced kiwi and mango, and either coconut chips/shreds or chopped macadamias.
Key Lime Pie Smoothie
Blend 1/2 frozen banana, ¼ avocado, 1 kiwi, 1 tbsp cashew butter, and juice from half of a lime with desired mix-ins (protein powder, flax, hemp, non-dairy milk, etc).
*The healthiest coconut milk I’ve found is Laird Superfood creamer. Just mix 1 tbsp in water to make milk. Click here to get $5 off (and support me too!).
Do you have a favorite way to eat kiwi? Share it in the comments below!
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1. The nutritional and health attributes of kiwifruit: a review. 2018.
2. Sungold kiwifruit supplementation of individuals with prediabetes alters gut microbiota and improves vitamin C status. 2018.
3. Kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) changes intestinal microbial profile. 2012.
4. A pilot randomized cross-over trial to examine the effect of kiwifruit on satiety and measures of gastric comfort in healthy adult males. 2017.
5. A pilot study of the effect of green kiwifruit on human intestinal fermentation measured by hydrogen and methane breath testing. 2018.
6. Mechanisms underlying effects of kiwifruit on intestinal function shown by MRI in healthy volunteers. 2019.
7. Kiwifruit improves bowel function in patients with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation. 2010.
8. The effect of ‘Zesy002’ kiwifruit on gut health function: a randomized cross-over clinical trial. 2019.
9. Kiwifruit, carbohydrate availability, and the glycemic response. 2013.
10. Kiwifruit non-sugar components reduce glycaemic response to co-ingested cereal in humans. 2017.