January 31, 2018
UK consumers are failing to meet the recommended level of fibre intake – which is so important for gut health – in their diet. But a new UK research study funded by the California Prune Board that is published this month, suggests that prunes could be a convenient solution to helping the nation address this issue.
The study, undertaken by researchers at King’s College London – a renowned centre of excellence for nutrition and digestive health – adds weight to the existing authorised health claim for prunes by showing that eating just 80 g daily – not the previously believed 100 g as per the current EU claim – of prunes achieves the same desired effect.
Scientists at King’s College London based their research on a group of healthy adults with low fibre intakes and infrequent bowel movements and found that the daily addition of just 80 g of prunes in the diet can dramatically increase fibre intake by 29%, resulting in significantly improved bowel function. Current UK intakes of fibre are approximately 18g / day which is in sharp contrast to the recommended 30g / day. Increasing fibre intake is the recommended route to reducing the risk of diseases such as Colourectal cancer, haemorrhoids and constipation.
120 healthy adults were randomly assigned to one of three groups for 4 weeks whilst consuming their regular diet and maintaining normal activity levels: 300 ml water only (the control group); 80 g prunes and 300 ml water; or 120 g prunes and 300 ml water. There was no change in body weight over the four week study in any of the three groups. Once again, this research dismisses the myth that adding prunes to the diet causes weight increase, reinforcing the results of a previous trial by the University of Liverpool.
The researchers also measured changes in the gut microbiota and found that levels of healthy gut bugs called Bifidobacteria significantly increased throughout the study following the prune diet. An additional benefit of eating prunes therefore appears to be a rise in the levels of ‘good’ health-enhancing bacteria in the gut.
Commenting on the findings, Esther Ritson-Elliott, European Marketing Director for the California Prune Board says, “The California Prune Board, representing the world’s premium quality prunes, has a long history of investing in cutting edge research to underpin the exceptional health and nutritional credentials of California prunes. This study is not simply a repeat of previous similar scientific investigations, but instead represents a brand-new UK research initiative that patently reinforces and adds significant weight to the existing EU health claim. In fact, we may now consider applying for the EU health claim to be adapted in line with these latest findings. Although there are daily sensationalised reports claiming new ‘gut health’ breakthroughs, this published research has used robust, objective outcome measures to confirm the long-held view that eating a diet rich in California prunes offers clear and tangible benefits in terms of improving normal bowel function.”
The research could also be relevant to helping to address the UK’s mounting laxative bill – according to NHS England, the spend on laxatives has increased by 61.2% over the last 10 years! Eating more fibre rich foods such as prunes could potentially reduce the need for such interventions!
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Notes to editors:
The California Prune Board, under the authority of the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture represents the entire 800 prune plums growers and 29 prune packers of California, which is the largest producer of prunes in the world, growing prunes known to be of the best quality due to the regions’ rigorous harvesting techniques and quality control assessments. The premium produce is supplied to 72 countries worldwide and the region contributes 43% of the world’s prune supplies
and 99% of the United States’ prune supplies. The California Prune Board is responsible for the marketing of California prunes and has been actively promoting its ‘designer’ prunes to consumer and trade customers in the UK and Europe since 1986.
Follow the California Prune Board:
 Lever E, Scott M, Louis P, Emery P, Whelan K, The effect of prunes on stool output, gut transit time and gastrointestinal microbiota: A randomised controlled trial, Clinical Nutrition (2018), http://www.clinicalnutritionjournal.com/article/S0261-5614(18)30003-7/fulltext?rss=yes
 Prunes contribute to normal bowel function when 100g are eaten daily
 Harrold J, Hughes G, Boyland E, Williams N, McGill R, Blundell J, Finlayson G, Higgs J, Harland J, Halford J (2014) Dried fruit (prune) consumption does not undermine active weight management or produce adverse gastrointestinal effects. As presented at The European Congress on Obesity by The European Association for the Study of Obesity, 2014: http://bit.ly/1EYFlyI
 According to NHS England over a 10-year period (2006 – 2016) laxative spend in the UK has increased by 61.2%. In 2016 the NHS spent £92.8 million on laxatives, equivalent to over £250,000 daily. The NHS states that ‘most people should get all the nutrients they need by having a varied and balanced diet’ yet people use supplements, including a wide variety of over the counter treatments to help them ‘go’ to the toilet. Yet lifestyle changes (diet, fluid intake and exercise) can often prevent the need for laxatives and are recommended as the first line option by the NHS.