Can Probiotics Help Or Hurt
Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms like bacteria and yeast. Human bodies are full of bacteria, both good and bad, and consuming probiotics can improve the good bacteria in your body, states the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health .
According to NCCIH, data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey show that about 4 million U.S. adults had used probiotics or prebiotics in the past 30 days. Yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and other fermented foods are popular sources of these microorganisms, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A lot of probiotics are also sold as dietary supplements. Dietary supplements don’t require approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before they are marketed, warns the NCCIH, so always be careful about what you put into your body.
Many people wonder if the beneficial bacteria in probiotics cause constipation. “Generally, probiotics do not cause constipation,” says Dr. Winberry. “There’s research looking at probiotics to treat constipation actually.”
In an October 2014 analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers reviewed 14 studies on probiotics and found that probiotics increased stool frequency by 1.3 bowel movements a week and also softened stools, making them easier to pass.
Do I Need To Take Probiotics After I Take Antibiotics
Antibiotic medications are often needed to fight an infection. However, while antibiotics are killing the bad bacteria, they are also knocking out the good bacteria in your body. Some people develop conditions like diarrhea after taking an antibiotic. In other people, this may allow for really bad bacteria to take over and populate the gut, such as with C. diff. Some research has shown a positive connection between taking probiotics after an antibiotic and relief from diarrhea. This hasnt been proven yet and doesnt work for everyone.
The thought behind adding probiotics back into your body after taking an antibiotic is that it can repopulate the good bacteria that was destroyed by the antibiotics and re-boot your system. The extra good bacteria helps repopulate your gut and fight off any remaining bad bacteria. Many people feel that adding in probiotics wont hurt, might help you feel better a little faster and prevent diarrhea.
Risk Of Infection For Some People
If your immune system is compromised, then you may be advised to avoid taking probiotics. You could have a weakened immune system if you are undergoing chemotherapy or have other immune deficiency issues.
A report from 2010 said that patients who are critically ill, have serious issues with their immune system, or have central venous catheters should seek a doctors advice before taking probiotics. However, the risk of infection from probiotics is very rare.1
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Do Probiotics Help You Poop
Yes. Not only do they help you poop, they help keep your poop healthy. If youre not sure what that means, check out the Bristol Stool Chart for an illustrated visual:
Probiotics help you poop because they shift the balance of microbes in the gut from harmful to beneficial. This benefits the whole digestive system in several ways. For example:
- Certain strains of probiotics modulate the immune system and help the body resist infections that affect digestion and regularity, such as Clostridium Difficile.
- Probiotics may improve symptoms of IBS, thereby alleviating constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating which stem fromand further perpetuatea dysfunctional digestive system.
- A gut microbiome full of healthy microbes works at just the right speed to allow nutrients from your food to be properly digested while expelling what it doesnt need in the form of poop on a regular, predictable schedule.
Do Probiotics Make You Poop
Although probiotics are not laxatives, they may help you to poop more regularly if you have constipation or irritable bowel syndrome .
Probiotics are generally considered safe, but your body might experience some temporary side effects while it gets used to the new bacteria, including bloating and flatulence. These are usually mild and go away after a few days once your body adjusts.
Unpublished ZOE research, which is the largest study of the gut microbiome and nutrition in the world, has found links between probiotics and how often a person poops.
Our study participants who consumed more probiotics whether in the form of fermented dairy, other fermented foods, or pills had a higher number of bowel movements than participants who didnt consume these.
The chances of pooping most days were increased by around 10% if people consumed one of these types of probiotics and by around 15% if they consumed all three of these types of probiotics.
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How Can Probiotics For Constipation Help
Probiotics, or good bacteria, are bacteria species that we consume for their health benefits. Probiotics are capable of improving the health of your gut microbiome and can fight harmful microorganisms [6
Research shows that the beneficial bacteria in probiotic supplements can help with chronic constipation. Several systematic reviews and meta-analyses have shown that probiotics:
- Significantly improve stool frequency [10
Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, 18 Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]. Since the prevalence of bacterial overgrowths like SIBO increases with age , this may be a factor in the differences between adults and children when it comes to the success of using probiotics for constipation.
As a result of balancing gut microorganisms, probiotics also reduce inflammation .
Prebiotics For Constipation: The Evidence
Unlike probiotics, research shows that prebiotics are consistently helpful for improving bowel regularity.
A meta-analysis looked at results of 27 studies about prebiotics ability to improve constipation symptoms. It also inspected synbiotics ability to improve constipation symptoms, which are combinations of probiotics and prebiotics.
They found that prebiotics alone increase weekly stool frequency and improve stool consistency .
Combining prebiotics AND probiotics together may be the best bet of all. When combined, prebiotics and probiotics are referred to as synbiotics.Synbiotics, however, seem to be even more effective than prebiotics alone.
Most notably, synbiotics were shown to decrease whole gut transit time by 13.5 hours on average – meaning you could dramatically ramp up your stool passage frequency.
Synbiotics also were also shown to improve stool consistencyand decrease bloating and pain with stool passage.
When it comes to specific prebiotics that may be helpful, one prebiotic superstar stands out among the bunch — Sunfiber.
Sunfiber is repeatedly shown in scientific studies to reduce constipation, increase regularity , reduce abdominal pain with stool passage, and soften stools . Even low doses can have these effects.
One study asserted that Sunfiber is a credible candidate to be a single comprehensive solutionfor overall maintenance of proper digestive health . Thats some pretty high praise!
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Ultimately, theres some promising evidence that probiotics may help with constipation, but more research is needed for scientists to agree on how useful they are.
Its also worth knowing that different probiotic strains have different effects. Those from a group called Bifidobacterium seem to be the best for making people poop more often, but there’s still not enough evidence to recommend a specific probiotic to help you poop more.
Our research at ZOE has found 15 good gut bacteria linked with better health and 15 bad gut bacteria linked with worse health.
The ZOE at-home test can tell you how many of each of these types of bacteria live in your gut. ZOE can then recommend your individual gut booster foods that you should eat more of to improve your health, and your gut suppressor foods you should eat less of.
The ZOE program also lets you reflect on your unique biology, giving you the option to keep track of your poop frequency and consistency.
What’s Blocking The Nations Colon
During the day we’re chained to our desks, then flop onto the couch for the night in front of the TV.
We’re doing less exercise, another essential activity for stimulating the bowels. And as we get older we become even less active and constipation becomes a constant unwelcome companion.
Then there’s medications.
As the nations opiate addiction surges so are the rates of chronic constipation and other digestive issues
Opiate-induced constipation is a formidable and common side-effect of pain-killers such as Oxycontin.
Unfortunately, these lifestyle factors combined are having a detrimental effect on the nations digestive health.
For many, constipation as an annoyance. To others its daily torture. But what few realise, is that constipation can be a dangerous, even a deadly affliction.
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Probiotics Can Cause Allergic Reactions
Another possible side effect of taking probiotics is an allergic reaction. Humans can be allergic to just about anything, including milk which is often used in the probiotic production process.
The purification process used in the production of some probiotics such as Nexabiotic® Advanced should remove most of these allergens.
If you are lactose intolerant you should be able to tolerate the small amounts of milk in probiotics. Furthermore, probiotics themselves break down lactose. This is the reason why probiotic-loaded kefir yogurt is advertised as being lactose-free.
However, if you have developed an allergic reaction to milk ingredients that results in problems breathing then you should avoid probiotics.
Constipation And Gut Dysbiosis
Making better food and lifestyle choices can help some people fix constipation and restore the digestive system. Eliminating processed foods from your diet, adding more high-fiber, whole fruits and vegetables, and drinking plenty of water may be enough to kickstart motility.
However, for others, fiber can make constipation even worse by feeding gut dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis occurs when harmful microorganisms overpower the good bacteria in your gut, causing gastrointestinal and often other symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, and mood issues.
Fiber feeds all bacteria in your gut it doesnt distinguish between good and bad. So, when you consume a bunch of fiber with an imbalanced gut, symptoms like constipation, abdominal pain, and bloating may actually get worse .
Once dysbiosis occurs, a vicious cycle of slow motility leading to further dysbiosis and so on can perpetuate indefinitely. This happens because the waste matter sitting in your digestive tract ferments and produces more harmful bacteria, yeasts, and toxins, creating further constipation. From there, leaky gut may develop, causing additional symptoms like brain fog, eczema, and fatigue.
Fortunately, probiotic therapy can help break this cycle and speed up gut transit time.
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Probiotics May Help Babies With Constipation
By Genevra Pittman, Reuters Health
4 Min Read
NEW YORK – Some probiotics may help treat chronic constipation in babies, according to a new study.
Probiotics are a kind of bacteria that can help balance out populations of bacteria in the intestines, keeping bacteria that cause disease from taking over. Children with constipation have been shown to have different types of bacteria in their stool than healthy children, suggesting that taking probiotics might help ease their symptoms.
But there had been no definitive evidence to recommend that kids with chronic constipation be treated with probiotics, the authors say.
Led by Dr. Paola Coccorullo of the University of Naples Federico II in Italy, the authors followed 44 infants that had been referred to their pediatrics department with chronic constipation. Half of those infants were assigned to take a dose of L. reuteri mixed with a few drops of oil once a day for eight weeks, while the others were fed an inactive placebo.
The researchers asked parents to keep track of how often their baby had a bowel movement and the consistency of the stool, in addition to babies inconsolable crying spells.
When it came to stool consistency and crying, it didnt matter whether a baby was taking L. reuteri or the placebo. Both groups had general improvements in their stool consistency but cried more later in the study than at its start.
Some doctors also recommend giving babies water or extra fiber to combat constipation.
The Best Probiotic Strains For Regularity
There are several strains of friendly bacteria that have been shown to be beneficial in helping to supporting regularity in various clinical studies. The best probiotic supplements should contain strains which have been specifically researched for constipation including:
- Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12®
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG®
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The Time It Takes For Probiotics To Work On Constipation
It can often be difficult to know how long its going to take for probiotics to work if you are constipated. It can depend on you as an individual and how you respond to the supplements.
It can also depend on what is causing your constipation. In most cases, it can take between four weeks and 3 months for the effects to truly kick in.
Most research does not tell you an accurate answer, but the vast majority of people say that they feel better within a couple of hours or days after they first start taking a great quality supplement.
There are also other things that you can do to help balance your gut microbiome to support the supplements, though this depends on why you are actually having the digestive issues to begin with.
For people that struggle with irritable bowel syndrome constipation, eating more fiber can be a very effective way to increase the frequency of your bowel movements. It will help to make your probiotic more effective and can put your digestion back in balance.
You can also increase the amount of physical activity that you have each week as this can help to keep your bowels effectively moving.
You are likely to experience fewer symptoms of constipation if youre active. This may not be possible for everyone though.
Things To Think About When Using Probiotics For Constipation
Its only natural that you would want to take probiotics for your constipation, but it is vital that you think about any other potential things that could be adding to your problem. For instance, is there anything that you can do to increase the effects of the probiotics?
Some examples include improving your hydration and eating more soluble fiber. You can also increase your physical activity. Finally, speak to your doctor to see if there are any medications that may be adding to your constipation issues.
Theres a chance that they could find a different medication that you can take.
For most people probiotics are completely safe. With that being said, you should always speak to your doctor if you have any major health concerns and you are thinking about taking probiotics.
You will always need to check that they are safe for you and your particular condition.
Its important to note that theres a chance that you may feel some side effects for a short while after you begin taking your probiotic.
For instance, you may experience stomach upset, gas and bloating at first. It will usually go away after a couple of days, but sometimes it might not. In this case, you should reassess when you are taking the probiotic.
Most of the time its best to take these supplements when your stomach is empty, but it can be helpful to take them with your food as your body gets used to the changes.
The 3 Best Probiotics For Constipation
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If you’re fed up with feeling backed up, adding a daily probiotic to your routine might be just what you need to feel more regular. While probiotics are known for promoting gut health, some are better than others at easing digestive troubles specifically. The best probiotics for constipation contain bacteria strains found to be particularly good at keeping things moving through your digestive tract.
For constipation relief, certified dietitian and nutritionist Ilyse Schaprio, MS, RD, CDN, says to look specifically for these strains: Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillusacidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Saccharomyces boulardii. And WebMd reported that those same strains can help with irritable bowel syndrome , a condition that often involves a mix of constipation and diarrhea.
“For constipation, it’s also a good idea to make sure you are consuming enough fiber,” adds Schapiro. With that in mind, I also included a prebiotic, dye-free fiber powder in this roundup so that you can tackle your constipation completely.
Treating Constipation In Adults
In an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a Harvard University team compiled results of several small studies and came to the conclusion that on average, probiotics slowed gut transit time by 12.4 hours, increased the number of weekly bowel movements by 1.3, and helped soften stools, making them easier to pass. Probiotics that contained Bifidobacterium appeared to be the most effective. In short, the analysis of these particular studies found that probiotics do have a positive effect on the symptoms of constipation.
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Data Synthesis And Statistical Analysis
Meta-analysis was performed where outcomes from at least 2 studies could be obtained by using standard statistical procedures in proprietary software . For an outcome measured using the same technique and reported using the same units , a weighted mean difference was calculated. However, where the same outcome was measured or reported differently, the standardized mean difference was calculated . In crossover studies, the means and SDs or SEs of the intervention and control periods separately were used . Where necessary, SDs were calculated from SEs or 95% CIs. A random-effects model was used to produce a pooled estimate of the WMD or SMD. Subgroup analyses were performed where there were sufficient trials for a specific species or a specific strain . However, subgroup analysis is only discussed where 2 studies or intervention arms contributed to the WMD or SMD. Statistical heterogeneity was assessed by using the chi-square test and was quantified by using the I2 statistic, with a value > 50% considered to represent substantial heterogeneity . When heterogeneity was statistically high, possible explanations were investigated by using sensitivity analyses according to probiotic species or strain and criteria for diagnosis of functional constipation. Publication bias was assessed by using funnel plots, and evidence of asymmetry was assessed by using the Egger test . A P value of < 0.05 was considered to show significance.
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