Digestive Health And Oranges


The digestive system is one of the pivotal systems in the human body in charge of breaking down food particles and ingesting and absorbing nutrients into the body, which help us grow, improve cell repair, and give us the energy needed to go on with our daily activities.1

The significance of good digestive health cannot be overlooked, as it also plays a crucial role in eliminating wastes and toxins from the body's system. With the number of members involved in our digestion, it is important to keep our gut in check. To prevent digestive problems such as constipation, heartburn, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), we must take note of what we consume.2

One factor influencing our digestive well-being is our diet. What we eat can help or hurt our digestive system and influence our overall health state. For digestive-related issues, we must incorporate dietary fibre into our daily diet. According to the NHS, the recommended dietary fibre intake should be 30 kg per day for adults and 15-25kg for children, depending on their age range.3

In this article, we will explore the orange fruit, a popular citrus fruit that originated in Southeast Asia and has become a renowned and important fruit worldwide. Other than the sweet-savoury taste of orange fruit, oranges are a truckload of fruit containing a substantial amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In this article, we will explain how oranges contribute to a good digestive health state.

Nutritional composition of oranges

Oranges belong to the family of citrus fruits, which are known to be the most consumed fruits worldwide in terms of energy, nutrients, and health supplements. The active components of oranges are vital to human health due to their anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and cardiovascular protective effects, amongst others.4

A 100 mg orange approximately contains the following nutrients:5

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fibre
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Amino acids
  • Water

The nutritional components of an orange can be broadly classified into three categories:

  1. Fibre Content

Oranges are an excellent epitome of fibre content. They are renowned for their high fibre content, which is excellent for adequate bowel movement, reduces gastrointestinal disorders, and aids in the prevention of constipation. They contain both soluble and insoluble fibres making them an excellent choice for digestive irregularities.

They also have different forms of carbohydrates which include fructose, glucose, sucrose, lactose, maltose, and galactose, making them an excellent energy source.

  1. Vitamins and Minerals

Oranges contain essential vitamins and minerals with an average exceptional abundance of vitamin C. Other vitamins include vitamins B1, B2, B3, K etc. Oranges are rich in minerals, of which the most prominent are potassium. Others include iron, calcium, sodium, and magnesium amongst others.

  1. Antioxidants

Ascorbic acid is considered the main antioxidant compound in an orange fruit. Others include Hesperidin and Narirutin- flavonoids that also exhibit antioxidant effects. Antioxidants help counteract inflammation in digestive congestion.

Oranges and digestive function

Oranges are not just sweet fruits; they are a powerhouse of essential nutrients needed for good digestive well-being. 

Their high fibre content, vitamin abundance, and presence of antioxidants make them a contributor to digestive function, and their abilities to alleviate digestive issues cannot be undermined. Their roles in digestive functions include:

  1.  Fibre and bowel regularity

Constipation is a common health issue that influences 20% of the world’s population.6 Constipation is not stigmatised to a particular age group, as it affects both children and adults. Common symptoms of constipation include:

  • No bowel movement at least three times during a week
  • A hard and dry faeces
  • Straining while passing a bowel movement
  • Bloating
  • Stomach ache

One major cause of constipation is the lack of fibre foods in the diet. Although laxatives are widely used for constipation treatment, they have adverse effects. A safe alternative is supported to prevent and cure constipation. Oranges are an excellent source of fibre, containing both soluble and insoluble fibres. Insoluble fibres soften stool, making it easier to defecate, the opposite of a painful defecation caused by laxatives. It helps to promote bowel regularity and improves digestive health.

  1. Impact on gut microbiota

Our digestive system is laced with microorganisms termed as gut microbiota. They are particularly found in the colon within the large intestine. They are made up of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microorganisms.7 Their roles include:

  • Breaking down ingested food particles
  • Synthesis of vitamins such as B and K
  • Immune system regulation
  • Protection against pathogens
  • Gut motility and peristalsis
  • Gut-Brain Connection
  • IBD
  • Fermentation

The composition and effective role-playing of gut microbiota is strongly influenced by what we consume. 

Disruption of gut microbiota can result in the extraction of more energy from the diet, reduce satiety, promote changes in lipid and glucose metabolism, and increase the production of fat in the body. To alleviate such, the incorporation of fibre into our dietary intake is crucial.

Oranges are a source of vitamin C, flavonoids, carotenoids, and fibres. One component in an orange fruit, termed polyphenols, is associated with the metabolism of gut microbiota. The positive effect of hesperidin and naringin on gut microbiota aids in the effect breakdown of particles the body is incapable of breaking down and aids easy absorption and, ultimately the excretion of the waste products.7

  1. Alleviating digestive issues

Oranges have anti-inflammatory properties that prevent inflammation due to digestive health issues. 

Benefits of oranges for digestive health

Orange benefits include:8

  1. Prevention of constipation

Oranges are rich in dietary fibre, which helps prevent and manage the occurrence of constipation. Fibre absorbs water, which increases the weight of stool and softens it which helps to relieve constipation.

  1. Gastrointestinal disorders

Consumption of the orange fruit helps to lower the risk of haemorrhoids and diverticular diseases. Alongside its anti-cancer properties, it helps to reduce the risk of cancer.

  1. Support for a healthy gut lining

The roles gut microbiota plays in the body are vast. A healthy gut lining supports the need for orange consumption to prevent lapses due to microbiota inefficiency caused by dietary choice. 

  1. Low cholesterol level 

Oranges help to lower cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk of heart-related problems, high blood pressure, and inflammation.

Oranges and hydration

Orange has a high water content; 100 mg of orange has about 86.7 mg of water. Daily intake may vary due to age, health, and involvement in strenuous daily activities. Consumption of enough fluid food like oranges benefits the body's system by:

  • Preventing dehydration
  • Impact on digestive comfort
  • Maintains body temperature
  • Aids adequate bowel movement

Dietary considerations

There are several ways to incorporate oranges into your diet. They include:9

  • Eat it as a refreshment: Oranges are found handy in large quantities in stores, fruit stalls, and other convenience markets for buying. This makes oranges an easily accessible form of snack for all. They are easy to peel and can be eaten on the go giving a huge advantage of easy incorporation into our diet.
  • Drink it in the form of juice: Oranges are succulent and can be squeezed to extract a reasonable amount of orange juice. Orange juice is a great source of vitamin C. 
  • Orange Zest: The outer layer of an orange is packed with flavour. It can be peeled and grated into baked foods and sauces.
  • Main dish additives: Oranges can be added to main dishes. Orange slices can be added to chicken or accompany roasted vegetable dishes.

Combining with other digestive-friendly foods

Oranges can be combined with other digestion-aiding foods. Probiotics are another class of digestive-friendly foods. Often regarded as “bacteria-friendly,” probiotics balance the stability of natural bacteria in the body. This helps the effective metabolism of gut bacteria in digestion processes.10

Probiotics are found in yoghurts. Evidence has shown that yoghurts help to ease some symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).11

Potential allergies and sensitivities

Oranges are generally considered safe food for most people when consumed in recommended amounts. There are potential allergies and sensitivities to be aware of. 

Oranges contain proteins that are allergens to some people. People with a history of allergy to citrus fruit or pollen may show symptoms which include:9

  • Itching
  • Difficult in breathing
  • Hives

Possible precautions

Moderation is key in any nutritional lifestyle, and even the best source of any nutrient can be dangerous when consumed in excess. 

Heartburn and reflux

Oranges contain citric acid, and unripe oranges contain citric acid in large quantities. Due to its high acidic content, it can cause heartburn and reflux in some individuals. Symptoms include:12

  • A burning sensation below the breastbone
  • Acid reflux
  • Nausea
  • Bad breath 
  • Belching


Fibre eases constipation, and excess fibre in the body system leads to diarrhoea. Moderation in consumption is key to preventing overnutrition when consuming any essential nutrient.

Interactions with medications

Orange juice, a fruit juice alongside some other fruits, interferes with drug metabolism due to its pharmacologically active compounds.13

Examples of medications that affect its metabolism include:

  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs, e.g. atorvastatin and simvastatin 
  • Antibiotics, e.g. tetracycline
  • Antacids
  • Blood-thinning medication, e.g. warfarin


Oranges are citrus fruits abundant in fibre content, vitamin C, high water profile, essential vitamins and minerals, and other high-nutrient profiles. As a result of this nutritional richness, oranges play an important role in digestive health, ensuring an optimal environment for gut microbiota and preventing digestive health-related issues.

The soluble and insoluble fibre content of oranges aids bowel movement and eases constipation, a health-related digestion prevalent amongst all ages. Oranges are encouraged to be consumed as they provide numerous other health benefits, such as boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, possessing anti-cancer properties, regulating blood sugar levels, helping dehydration, and promoting good heart health. 

Overall, incorporating oranges into your dietary lifestyle is advantageous to your digestive health and overall well-being. If you are experiencing reactions after taking oranges, consult with your healthcare professional to ascertain if you are allergic to oranges and/or citrus foods. While taking medications, kindly check for cross-functional interference of orange with your medications to prevent a decline in drug efficacy.


  1. ‘Your Digestive System & How It Works - NIDDK’. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works. Accessed 20 Oct. 2023.
  2. ‘Keeping Your Gut in Check’. NIH News in Health, 2 May 2017, https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2017/05/keeping-your-gut-check.
  3. ‘How to Get More Fibre into Your Diet’. Nhs.Uk, 23 Feb. 2022, https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/digestive-health/how-to-get-more-fibre-into-your-diet/.
  4. Lv, Xinmiao, et al. ‘Citrus Fruits as a Treasure Trove of Active Natural Metabolites That Potentially Provide Benefits for Human Health’. Chemistry Central Journal, vol. 9, Dec. 2015, p. 68. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1186/s13065-015-0145-9.
  5. FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/746771/nutrients. Accessed 20 Oct. 2023.
  6. Yang, Jing, et al. ‘Effect of Dietary Fiber on Constipation: A Meta Analysis’. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG, vol. 18, no. 48, Dec. 2012, pp. 7378–83. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v18.i48.7378.
  7. Duque, Ana Luiza Rocha Faria, et al. ‘An Exploratory Study on the Influence of Orange Juice on Gut Microbiota Using a Dynamic Colonic Model’. Food Research International, vol. 84, June 2016, pp. 160–69. ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2016.03.028.
  8. ‘How to Add More Fiber to Your Diet’. Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983. Accessed 20 Oct. 2023.
  9. Health Benefits Of Oranges - Klarity Health Library. 13 Oct. 2023, https://my.klarity.health/health-benefits-of-oranges/.
  10. ‘Probiotics’. Nhs.Uk, 19 Oct. 2017, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/probiotics/.
  11. ‘Good Foods to Help Your Digestion’. Nhs.Uk, 23 Feb. 2022, https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/digestive-health/good-foods-to-help-your-digestion/.
  12. ‘Dietary & Lifestyle Advice for Adults with Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)’. Cambridge University Hospitals, https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/patient-information/dietary-lifestyle-advice-for-adults-with-gastro-oesophageal-reflux-disease-gord/. Accessed 20 Oct. 2023.
  13. Preston, Claire L., et al. ‘How Fruit Juice Interacts with Common Medicines’. The Pharmaceutical Journal, 30 Sept. 2014, https://pharmaceutical-journal.com/article/ld/how-fruit-juice-interacts-with-common-medicines.
  14. Corrêa, Telma Angelina Faraldo, et al. ‘Blood Orange Juice Intake Changes Specific Bacteria of Gut Microbiota Associated with Cardiometabolic Biomarkers’. Frontiers in Microbiology, vol. 14, July 2023, p. 1199383. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2023.1199383.
  15. Antunes, Catiele, et al. ‘Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease’. StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 2023. PubMed, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441938/
  16. ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Further Help and Support’. Nhs.Uk, 9 Jan. 2018, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/further-help-and-support/.
  17. Miles, Elizabeth A., and Philip C. Calder. ‘Effects of Citrus Fruit Juices and Their Bioactive Components on Inflammation and Immunity: A Narrative Review’. Frontiers in Immunology, vol. 12, June 2021, p. 712608. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.712608.
  18. Rao, Muhammad Junaid, et al. ‘Genomic Insights into Citrus Domestication and Its Important Agronomic Traits’. Plant Communications, vol. 2, no. 1, Dec. 2020, p. 100138. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xplc.2020.100138.
  19. ‘Constipation’. Nhs.Uk, 20 Oct. 2017, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/constipation/.
  20. ‘Food Allergy - Symptoms and Causes’. Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20355095. Accessed 20 Oct. 2023.
  21. ‘Allergy to Fruit’. Anaphylaxis UK, https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/fact-sheet/allergy-to-fruit/. Accessed 20 Oct. 2023.
  22. ‘Diverticular Disease and Diverticulitis’. Nhs.Uk, 18 Oct. 2017, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diverticular-disease-and-diverticulitis/.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Taofeekat Oladipo

BSc Biochemistry - University of Ibadan, Nigeria

With extensive practical and theoretical expertise in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Nutrition, and Financial Operations Coordination, Taofeekat brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. My extensive scientific knowledge, data analysis, comprehensive reporting abilities, and clear communication skills led me to the scientific endeavor of medical communication.

I'm all for medical information accessibility for all and I've had several years of experience in writing and accurate speaking. I am continuously passionate about contributing my quota in the realm of medical writing.

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