Are Probiotics Effective for Constipation?
Have you been feeling a little backed up lately? We all do once in a while. Regardless of how constipation is defined, we all know how uncomfortable it can be. Taking over-the-counter remedies such as liquid laxatives, stool softeners, and bulking agents can be a quick fix for constipation, but almost half of the consumers don't achieve relief.
How do probiotics help with constipation?
Probiotics, whether obtained from fermented foods or dietary supplements, can offer an alternative to traditional constipation treatments. These beneficial bacteria help improve digestion and promote normal bowel movement. Constipation is characterized by any or all of the following symptoms:
- Stools that are hard or lumpy
- Fewer than three stools a week
- Painful or difficult bowel movement
Having constipation even occasionally can mess up your digestive system, since waste products and pathogenic microorganisms are contained in fecal matter. It can begin to alter your gut as it lingers in your colon.
Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are beneficial probiotics that populate your gut, which:
- Ensure a healthy mucus lining in the colon to facilitate bowel movement.
- Produce short-chain fatty acids that lower the pH and promote the movement of foods in the gut.
- Regulates the chemical substances in the colon by breaking down bile acids.
- Softens stool consistency, making them easier to pass and less painful.
How long does it take for probiotics to work?
Each individual is different, and so are the causes of constipation. There is no definite length of time, but many people report feeling better within hours or days of taking high-quality multi-strain probiotic supplements. But then it all depends on what’s causing your sluggish digestion. If you are constipated because of IBS and you don’t eat much soluble fiber, increasing your fiber intake could help rebalance your digestion as well as support your probiotics.
Another way to keep your bowels moving is to be more active. You may achieve faster results if you can move a little more. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule.
It's also important to remember that probiotics are good for your body in more ways than just ensuring regular digestion. It's impossible to say how long probiotics would take to start helping with your constipation, but you could likely start feeling their benefits in other ways fairly quickly.
What to consider before you start taking probiotics for constipation?
Evaluate any other factors that could contribute to your constipation. Besides taking probiotics, what else can you do to improve your digestion? You might want to do the following:
- Include more fiber into your diet. Fiber act as food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
- Increase your water intake.
- Exercise regularly.
Which probiotic is best for constipation?
People who suffer from constipation tend to have less Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in their system, while they have an increase in potentially harmful microorganisms. Make sure the supplement you choose contains multiple strains of these two types of bacteria. Shop for probiotics that don't contain gluten, dairy, soy, or yeast.