Are probiotics useful for constipation?
Constipation is a common problem affecting approximately 16% of adults worldwide. It can be difficult to treat, prompting many people to turn to natural remedies and over-the-counter supplements. like probiotics.
Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria naturally found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, and tempeh.
They are also sold as dietary supplements. When consumed, probiotics improve the gut microbiome — the collection of beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract that helps regulate inflammation, immune function, digestion, and heart health.
Studies show that increasing your intake of probiotics can reduce blood flow. sugar levels and support weight loss, liver function, and skin health.
Probiotics can also help stop harmful bacteria from multiplying in the gut.
In this article, you’ll learn if probiotics can help treat constipation.
Effects on Different Types of Constipation
The effects of probiotics on constipation have been studied in a variety of conditions.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive disorder that can cause numerous symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation.
Probiotics are often used to help with IBS symptoms, including constipation. A review of 24 studies showed that probiotics reduced symptom severity and improved bowel habits, bloating, and quality of life in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
Another study of 150 people with irritable bowel syndrome found that probiotic supplementation for 60 days helped improve bowel regularity and stool consistency.
Additionally, in a 6-week study of 274 people, drinking a probiotic-rich fermented milk beverage increased stool frequency and reduced IBS symptoms by.
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Constipation in children
Constipation in children is common and can be caused by a number of factors including diet, family history, food allergies, and psychological problems.
Several studies indicate that probiotics relieve constipation in children. For example, a review of 6 studies found that taking probiotics for 3 to 12 weeks increased stool frequency in children with constipation, while a 4-week study of 48 children linked this supplement to improved bowel frequency and consistency. However, other studies provide mixed results. Therefore, more research is needed.
Up to 38% of pregnant women experience constipation, which can be caused by prenatal supplements, hormonal fluctuations, or changes in physical activity.
Some research suggests that taking probiotics during pregnancy can prevent constipation. Week 6 in 60 pregnant women with constipation who ate 10.5 ounces (300 grams) daily of probiotic yogurt fortified with Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus bacteria increased stool frequency and improved several symptoms of constipation.
In another study of 20 women, taking probiotics containing a mixture of bacterial strains increased the frequency of bowel movements and improved symptoms of constipation, such as straining, abdominal pain, and a feeling of incomplete evacuation.
Several medications can contribute to constipation, including opioids, iron pills, antidepressants, and certain cancer treatments.
Chemotherapy in particular is one of the main causes of constipation. About 16% of people undergoing this cancer treatment experience constipation.
In a study of nearly 500 cancer patients, 25% reported improvements in constipation or diarrhea after taking probiotics.
In a 4-week study of 100 people, probiotics improved chemotherapy-induced constipation in 96% of participants.
Probiotics may also benefit those suffering from constipation caused by iron supplements. For example, a small 2-week study of 32 women found that taking a probiotic daily with an iron supplement increased bowel regularity and bowel function compared to taking a placebo.
Still, more research is needed to determine if probiotics can help relieve constipation caused by other medications, such as narcotics and antidepressants.
Research shows that probiotics can treat childhood constipation and constipation caused by pregnancy, IBS, and certain medications.
Although probiotics are generally considered safe, they do have some side effects that you may want to consider.
Once you start taking them, they can cause digestive issues, including stomach cramps, nausea, gas, and diarrhea.
However, these symptoms usually go away with continued use. Some research suggests that probiotics can cause serious side effects, such as an increased risk of infection, in people with compromised immune systems.
If you have any pre-existing health conditions, it is therefore best to consult a doctor before taking probiotics.
Probiotics can cause digestive problems that usually go away over time. However, they can cause more serious side effects in people with compromised immune systems. systems.
How to use probiotics?
Choosing the right probiotic is key to treating constipation, as certain strains may not be as effective as others. Look for supplements that contain the following strains of bacteria that have been shown to improve stool consistency:
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Bifidobacterium longum
While there is no specific recommended dosage for probiotics, most supplements contain 1 to 10 billion colony-forming units (CFU) per serving.
For best results, use only as directed and consider lowering your dose if you experience persistent side effects.
Because supplements can take several weeks to work, stick with a particular type for 3-4 weeks to test its effectiveness before switching.
Alternatively, try incorporating a variety of probiotic foods into your diet. Fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, kefir, natto, tempeh, and sauerkraut are high in beneficial bacteria, as well as many other important nutrients.
Certain strains of probiotics may be more effective than others at treating constipation. In addition to taking supplements, you can eat fermented foods to increase your intake of probiotics.
Probiotics offer several health benefits, one of which may be the treatment of constipation. Studies suggest that probiotics can relieve constipation associated with pregnancy, certain medications, or digestive issues like IBS.
Probiotics are largely safe and effective, making them an excellent addition to a healthy diet to improve bowel movements.
Read also: 10 Reasons to require a Bifidus Probiotic