Constipation picture

Do Probiotics help with constipation?

Gut Health

Do probiotics help with constipation?

Constipation picture

Believe it or not constipation is more prevalent then diarrhoea according to Harvard Medical School, it affects more than 15% of the adult population constipation, it is more common than diarrhoea and affects approximately 14% of adults each year.

The good news for people who suffer from regular constipation is that probiotics do help with constipation, a study from the US Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a good quality probiotic can help to start and increase your bowel movements weekly making stools softer and not as hard to pass.

Why is this? Probiotics that contain Bifidobacterium and  would seem to be the best formula to get your gut into better health and ease the constipation.


Probiotics Studies

Woman with constipation

A number of studies have shown that microorganisms in our stomachs have been found to be associated with the contraction of muscles that are mixing and pushing the contents of the stomach into the gastrointestinal tract.

The same studies also show that these microorganisms Bifidobacterium & Lactobacillus are in short supply in people with constipation particularly adults.So, it makes perfect sense to use probiotics to relieve constipation.


What are probiotics?

Probiotics are a live cultured beneficial bacterium found in yoghurts and many cultured foods, probiotics have been talked about for many years as a great aid for digestive problems, gut issues and constipation relief.


Probiotics benefits

More recently probiotics have been touted for their ability to help with several health issues including:

  • Losing weight
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Allergy relief
  • Infectious diarrhoea relief
  • Mental health issues
  • Lowering cholesterol

What’s in a probiotic?

Probiotic supplements can be purchased in health food stores, supermarkets and online, there are several brands on the market that contain Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus these are the two most common types of the bacteria.


What causes constipation?

There are many reasons why you could be constipated, these are the most common:

  • Dehydration
  • Under active thyroid
  • Stress
  • Overuse of dairy products
  • Not been physically active
  • Eating disorder
  • Pregnancy
  • IBS
  • Changes in your diet
  • Digestive system issues
  • Colon cancer
  • Strong medications iron tablets, antidepressants
  • Laxative overuse
  • Not eating enough fiber
  • Medications and constipation

If one is taking a medication for an infection the combination can affect the balance of the bacteria in the digestive system, this disruption can cause constipation, probiotics can work to restore the balance in the digestive system and relieve constipation.


Remedies for constipation

You can buy over the counter remedies for constipation such as fiber supplements, osmotics, stimulants, stool softeners and lubricants, here is what each one does:

Fiber supplements: There are several brands that ad bulk to the stool making it easier to pass, fiber supplements that contain calcium polycarbophil (Equalactin or Fibercon) methylcellulose (Citrucel) and psyllium (Konsyl, Metamucil)

Osmotics: These laxatives are designed to help increase the secretion of fluid coming from the intestines stimulating bowel movement making it easier for the stool to move through the colon.

Stool softeners: These work by increasing the water flow from the intestines adding water to the stool making it softer, brands that contain docusate sodium (Surfak) and Docusate calcium.

Lubricants: Lubricants containing mineral oil allow the stool to pass through the colon easier.

Enemas & suppositories: These enemas are used in conjunction with tap water and soapsuds, may work sometimes to soften the stool and start a movement, suppositories like glycerine & bisacodyl provide stimulation and lubrication.

Stimulants: Stimulants make the intestines contract brands like Dulcolax, Correctol containing bisacodyl, and Senokot, Periderm, El-Lax containing sennosides.

I remember being told that prunes or orange juice were good laxatives for constipation, nowadays there are many choices of laxative products to solve the problem of constipation including stool softeners and laxatives. Feedback from customers seems to say that a lot of people have tried these over the counter laxative products, however the results were less than satisfactory.


Do probiotics help with constipation?

Constipation studies

Let’s look at the studies and there are more than 14 of them according to the researchers at King’s College London, in one study it showed the connection between a lack of Bifidobacterium & Lactobacillus in patients with poor stool movement, when probiotic bacteria was introduced it stimulated intestinal motility in the human study.

This was also found to be the case in an animal study.

In all the clinical trials randomly assessed people suffering from constipation were given probiotics or a placebo in the controlled experiment.


Studies

The researchers correlated the findings of the studies and on average in people who took probiotics gut transit time was slowed down by 12,4 hours the bowel movements were increased by 1.3, stools were softer and passing stools was easier, the most effective probiotic contained Bifidobacterium, the study results have been made available in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Which specific probiotic is the best for constipation?

We need further clinical trials on a larger scale to determine which specific probiotic the best for constipation is, by experimenting on your own will you find the answer to the question “do probiotics help with constipation“. Probiotics are deemed to be a safe method to relieve constipation, the side effects are minimal, they are a dietary supplement are as such are not screened by the FDA, the best advice is to speak to your doctor before beginning probiotics for constipation.


General advice on probiotics

I have put together some information that may be helpful for you in deciding which brand of Probiotics is best for you

Speak to your doctor about your plan to take probiotics, your doctor may be well informed on the subject and may devise a digestive health plan for you.

Probiotics are available for women, men and children, keep this in mind as you browse offers, always read the label for ingredients.

Probiotic health supplements may seem expensive but having unhealthy digestion and constipation can cost money too, don’t expect results immediately, it could take up to 60 days in some cases for constipation relief.

Make sure you drink a lot of water during the treatment, don’t drink fizzy drinks, tea and juice are fine.

I can’t stress how important it is to keep your body hydrated during this period, drink up to 3 liters per day, this makes sure that your body is getting rid of unhealthy toxins and it is good for your skin.


Knowledge

You now have the knowledge regarding probiotics and how they can help with constipation and digestive system, here are details of the best probiotics available:

Best range of Probiotics for constipation


References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4288092/

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/100/4/1075/4576460

Please follow and like us:
error

8 thoughts on “Do Probiotics help with constipation?

  1. This is an important subject, as it affects our living and health,and our well being, and impacts how well we do our work.

    As a child we were given, prunes to combat constipation,as well as for general good health,probiotics were not available in those days,but things like Senocot ,and Ex-lax were obtainable.

    I also remember, our parents using warm water enemas,when there were stubborn cases of constipation,which we did not like,and preferred the dosing with prunes..

    This Bifidobacterium appears to be the best proboitic for use today,and this seems to be borne out by the clinical studies,printed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.,and Kings College London.

  2. Hi There,

    Very valuable information here about constipation. Never had it before in my life as I eat and drink what you have suggested here every day and have been doing it all my life. I know a few friends who suffer from constipation and who are healthy eaters and keep up the fluids, so it can obviously single anyone out and that’s where probiotics can help. 

    Our digestive system is so important to our health and affects the body in so many ways. It’s always better to choose a healthy diet but in the end, it’s whatever works. I’m interested in you mentioning drinking 5 litres of water a day, is that humanly possible? I try to get 3 litres in a day and that’s a tough task. Maybe I set the goal posts too low. I going to give it a try though 

    Thanks so much for your post

    Paul

    1. Hi Paul,

      I have taken on board your comments regarding water intake and on careful consideration I have reduced the recommended daily amount to 3 liters.

      Thank you,

      Fintan

  3. Hi Fintan D, when I was going through your blog about probiotics its a very good blog because I personally need this but when I was reading i saw it cause reduce weight this caught my attention because am slim type and I don’t want to get slimmer any more how can I go about this although you have advice me to contact my doctor first before the intake and not to be hydrated when am.on probiotic. Thanks for helping with this information i will be looking for your answer

    1. Hi there,

      There isn’t enough concrete evidence that Probiotics can reduce weight, If I were you the benefits of probiotics far outweigh and side effects.

      thanks for your comments

      FintAN

  4. To be honest it is my first time to read about probiotics and your article has given me useful information as to how we get constipated. Indeed, I feel a lot of people today get constipated because of the causes you listed. In my experience, I believe constipation comes into play because of my daily stresses and bad lifestyles. A lot of us work sitting for a longer period of time, yes the body is resting but the brain is bombarded with the high dosage of stress especially if you are in a high voltage competition and projects that need to be finished on a never-ending ‘urgent’ mode. Probiotics is such a relief if indeed it addresses the issues of constipation. Great information. Thanks

  5. During my studies at the University we tested 10 random yogurts that claimed that had probiotics in them. Our lab tests showed that indeed they all had a large number of probio bacteria..but only two brands had only a hand full of live bacteria, all the rest were dead and therefore useless.

    I don’t know which braniac came up with the idea to put bacteria that needs a body temperature to live in a refrigerated yogurt. Utter nonsense.

    So your recommendations are true, capsules are the best source to get probiotics in your body.

    Best,

    Katya

    1. Hi Katya,

      Interesting point that you make, only a few brands of yogurt had live bacteria in them, even at that they only had a handful, compared to a quality probiotic supplement where you have more than 5 million live cultures that has to make a massive difference to the unhealthy gut. Thanks for your comment.

      Fintan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *