How Do Probiotics Work For Constipation
The bodys ability to properly digest the foods we eat is dependent on the good bacteria in the gut. Stress, medication, antibiotics, poor diet and other factors are known to damage the gut flora. Probiotics supplements work by populating the intestinal tract with good bacteria which can help to promote a healthy gut flora balance.
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Reaching The Gut Alive
Once through the stomach, the probiotic bacteria embark on the next stage of their journey. They are released into the small intestines, where some strains will begin to take up residence for a short time. Other strains may pass through the small intestine and take up residence when they reach the large intestine . Where probiotics choose to reside is governed predominantly by the specific conditions in different areas of the gut including pH , oxygen levels, and the type of bacteria in the microbiome4.
Some areas of the gut have more oxygen available like the small intestine, whereas other areas have little or no oxygen like parts of the large intestine, making those areas only suitable for certain strains of bacteria that do not need oxygen to survive. Additionally, the pH differs at different points along the digestive tract, with the small intestine typically being more acidic than the large intestine. Although, as we have learned, it can be a challenge for probiotic bacteria to travel through the highly acidic stomach, which can reach acidity levels of around pH 1.5, probiotic bacteria actually prefer a slightly acidic or pH neutral environment5. All these factors influence where particular strains of bacteria choose to live.
Variables That Influence Probiotics Onset Of Action
There are a variety of variables that may determine how quickly probiotics begin working and/or how long it takes for someone to notice an effect. Variables that might impact the rate at which probiotics exert an effect include: the specific probiotic used the probiotic dosage concurrent substance use and other user-specific factors such as: administration details lifestyle choices intestinal permeability and self-awareness. If youre wondering why probiotics kick in at different rates among users consider these variables.
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How Long Does It Take Probiotics To Work
The short answer is: It depends on the specific outcome youre hoping to achieve, the current condition of your gut and overall health, and the quality of the probiotic you are taking.
If you are taking a high quality, multispecies and multistrain supplement, you can expect to notice initial improvements and health benefits of probiotics in your digestion as early as the first 1-2 weeks after starting your probiotic.
Depending on how sensitive you are, many people feel a difference after a few days. More fundamental effects of the probiotics such as improvements to mood, weight loss or a reduction in inflammation of your gut barrier might set in after 4-8 weeks.
What Is The Gut Microbiome
Our digestive tract is home to trillions of bacteria as well as fungi and viruses these are known as the gut microbiome.
The makeup of this biome is largely genetically determined however, it is heavily influenced by several factors such as whether we are born naturally or by cesarean section, if we were breastfed, our use of antibiotics, and our exposure to chemicals, pesticides, and other toxins.
Scientists now know that this microbiome is critical to our overall well-being. Some call it our second brain. Small imbalances can cause significant changes to our mental health and in the appearance of our skin and has been linked to almost every known condition such as Alzheimers disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Type 2 diabetes.
An imbalance may also cause constipation, diarrhea, skin rashes, yeast infections, and a suppressed immune system. Your likelihood of putting on weight also comes down to your microbiome and the influence it has on your response to insulin and thyroid gland function.
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Do Probiotics Only Work For Sick Dogs
There is some evidence that probiotics may have health benefits in dogs that are thought to be well. There is some research suggesting that probiotics might assist with supporting a healthy immune system or help anxious dogs. There is also some evidence that poor quality probiotics can disrupt an otherwise healthy gut biome, but again this requires further study. If your pet is in good health, it is probably unnecessary to supplement them with a probiotic product. But if you are keen to try it out, speak with a vet first for their opinion on whether this is suitable for your pet.
How Popular Are Probiotics
The 2012 National Health Interview Survey showed that about 4 million U.S. adults had used probiotics or prebiotics in the past 30 days. Among adults, probiotics or prebiotics were the third most commonly used dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals. The use of probiotics by adults quadrupled between 2007 and 2012. The 2012 NHIS also showed that 300,000 children age 4 to 17 had used probiotics or prebiotics in the 30 days before the survey.
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Make Sure To Introduce Probiotics Alone
To determine whether or not youre getting the benefits of probiotics, its best to introduce them alone . This is a general principle that applies to most new treatments.
Introducing each new treatment in isolation is the best way to determine how theyre affecting you. If you introduce probiotics at the same time as you introduce a bunch of other supplements and dietary changes, you wont have any way of knowing whats actually helping. Thats a big part of why we recommend making changes one at a time.
Probiotic therapy should be second in an overall diet and lifestyle change process. This is what we recommend at the Ruscio Institute for Functional Medicine to our patients:
When youre experiencing difficult symptoms, its tempting to want to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. But ultimately, that method will cost you more stress, money, and likely, confusion.
This step-by-step method might take a little longer, but ultimately, it pays off to take things one change at a time.
Is It Possible To Take Too Many Probiotics
In a recent article, Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health and the medical editor for Health.com, had this to say about the possibility of taking too many probiotics:
Since our bodies normally host upwards of 100 trillion bacteria, its very hard to overdose on probiotics, or good bacteria. If anything, research suggests that eating lots of these bugs via fermented foods, like yogurt or sauerkraut, or supplements can help you maintain a healthy balance of intestinal microbes that aid digestion and keep your immune system strong.
According to Dr. Rajapaksa and other experts, the one exception to this rule may be people with compromised immune systems, including those with HIV, cancer or similar conditions that can weaken the immune response and leave the body vulnerable to infection. These individuals should speak with a physician before starting a daily probiotic supplement.
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Reasons To Start Taking Probiotics
There are a lot of documented reasons to take probiotics, from improving your gut microbiome to addressing mental health and regulating the immune system. Probiotics can be very helpful for:
- Blood pressure
Probiotics can be a core therapy that addresses multiple symptoms at once, even if you are primarily targeting something specific . The trick is to find the right combination and the right dose for you as an individual.
What Has Science Shown About The Effectiveness Of Probiotics For Health Conditions
A great deal of research has been done on probiotics, but much remains to be learned about whether theyâre helpful and safe for various health conditions.
Probiotics have shown promise for a variety of health purposes, including prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea , prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis and in premature infants, treatment of infant colic, treatment of periodontal disease, and induction or maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis.
However, in most instances, we still donât know which probiotics are helpful and which are not. We also donât know how much of the probiotic people would have to take or who would be most likely to benefit. Even for the conditions that have been studied the most, researchers are still working toward finding the answers to these questions.
The following sections summarize the research on probiotics for some of the conditions for which theyâve been studied.
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Mistake #: You Stop Taking Probiotics When You Take Antibiotics
One of the biggest misconceptions is that you should wait until your antibiotics are finished before you take probiotics, says registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen, author of Un-Junk Your Diet: How to Shop, Cook and Eat to Fight Inflammation and Feel Better, Forever. People think that antibiotics will kill probiotics, which is true, but probiotics can ease the side effects of antibiotics . The key to survival is when you take probiotics: wait two hours after your antibiotic dose so the antibiotic can move through your system and give probiotics a fighting chance. In addition, continue the probiotics for a time after your antibiotics are finished to ensure that their effects are out of your system.
Lifestyle Change #: Eat A Nutrient
If you want to support a diverse microbiome, this is probably the most important thing you can do.
Eating a wide variety of fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds is your best bet. Add in some lean proteins and healthy fats and youve ticked the nutrient-dense box, too.
This whole fiber thing is really important.
One probiotic study done on healthy bodybuilders looked at the groups gut profiles.34
Though it wasnt the main aim of the study, the researchers noticed that bodybuilders who didnt get enough fiber had microbiomes similar to people who were sedentary.
In other words, they werent getting the microbiome benefits of exercise , possibly because they werent eating enough fiber.
What are prebiotics?
You may have heard that you should be eating prebiotics, a form of fiber that feeds the microbes in your gut. If you regularly eat fiber-rich foods like the ones mentioned above, youre getting enough prebiotics in your diet. We dont know which microbes prefer which types of fiber yet, so eating a wide array of different fiber sources is the best approach.
What about probiotic foods?
Probiotic foods may also be worth including in your diet. Theyre associated with a host of beneficial health outcomes, such as a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease.13
And just a reminder: The only food thats classified as probiotic right now is fermented dairy. This includes fermented yogurts and kefir.
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Best Probiotics For Constipation
When choosing a probiotic for constipation its important that it contains clinically researched strains that help alleviate the condition.
When I say help, I mean they should at least
- Increase the frequency of bowel movements
- Shorten the transit times
Without doubt the two most effective probiotic species are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.
However, its the strain that makes the difference and not all strains are created equal.
Certain strains are better at dealing with the symptoms of chronic constipation than others..
And the best probiotic supplements for constipation should contain at least one of these strains.
Below is a list of clinically researched bacterial strains that are shown to have a beneficial effect on constipation.
Is It Necessary To Refrigerate Probiotics For My Dog
This depends on the product. Our understanding is that a stable powder formula should not require refrigeration to maintain label claim potency, however, refrigeration can help to preserve the viability of the bacteria for a longer period of time. If you do refrigerate probiotics, be sure to keep the lid closed tightly and avoid moisture developing in the canister which can mess with the efficacy of the probiotics.
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The Best Time To Take Probiotics
So… when should you pop your probiotic capsule? “Research shows that the best time to take probiotics is just before a meal or as you begin your meal,” says Lisa Richards, CNC, nutritionist and creator of The Candida diet. “This is the time when your stomach environment is at its least acidic, because your body has not yet begun to produce stomach acid in large quantities to digest your food. Taking your probiotics at this time will make their passage to your gut a little easier, and ensure you get the most from those beneficial bacteria.”
However, Richards says the when-to-take aspect of probiotics depends on what type you opt for. “If your probiotic is enteric-coated or uses delayed-release capsules, it is more likely to survive stomach acid and so the exact timing is less important,” she says. If you’re taking a live strain probiotic supplement, “ideally you want to take them 20 minutes after you eat, first thing in the morning or right before bedtime,” Greenfield says. “This allows more of the probiotics to get into the large intestines where they will have the most benefits. If you are taking a soil-based probiotic, you can take them with food for most impact.” Not sure what kind you have? Dr. Sonpal says brands put that info on the packaging.
What you eat affects your gut too. Watch the video to see how:
Do Prebiotics Help Return The Gut Microbiome To Normal
Prebiotics are foods for probiotics and include fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, cereals.
Mixing prebiotics with probiotics, such as yogurt with fruit and cereal or sauerkraut with a vegetable stir fry could be helpful for your gut, although there is no scientific evidence to support this.
Good prebiotic foods include vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, garlic, onions, and any green vegetable fruits such as bananas, berries, and tomatoes herbs such as chicory or garlic grains like barley, oat, and wheat and other fibers such as inulin that may be available on its own or added to foods such as granola bars, cereal, and yogurt.
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You Might Have Some Temporary Bloating
Most people do not experience negative side effects when taking probioticsbut some may notice a brief increase in bloating and gas. The good news is, experts say this is only temporary while your body adjusts to the new influx of good bacteria you’ve been introducing. According to Dr. Axe, these side effects will typically go away after several weeks of use, but if they don’t, Clair says you might want to reduce your dosage. You should also consult your doctor for their advice.
“It’s best to start with a low dosage and gradually increase as your body adjusts, which can help to prevent issues like loose stools,” adds Dr. Axe. “If you’re still dealing with reactions a month or so later, consider trying a different probiotic formula altogether.”
Should I Take A Probiotic Every Day
The short answer: Yes, you should aim to take a probiotic every single day if possible. “It’s best to take probiotics at least once daily with water or milk,” Dr. Asike says. There are many different forms of probiotics you can purchase in the wellness aisle from powders to capsules, tablets to liquid suspensions, but a regular dose on an even basis should be a goal regardless of which strain of probiotic you take.
If you’re wondering what may be the best option for a daily probiotic, Dr. Asike recommends looking for multi-species or multi-strain products before single-strain supplements, as they may provide more benefits overall. Saccharomyces boulardii, as well as Lactobaccilus rhamnosus,are popular options that may provide more relief to those experiencing irritable bowel syndrome, he adds. “There isn’t one over-the-counter brand that’s better than another when it comes to strains I advise looking for multi-species or multi-strain , and to grab a store brand if that’s what’s available.”
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How To Choose The Right Probiotic
When looking for probiotic products, look for a supplement with the following features
Multispecies and multistrain probiotic: The product should contain different bacterial species and multiple strains of bacteria.
Differentiated products tailored to your needs: Different digestive issues warrant different probiotic strains. Therefore, for optimal benefits, try to seek out a probiotic that is tailored to the specific health outcomes you are trying to achieve.
Clinical studies: The probiotic and its claims should be backed by clinical studies using the final product. This will ensure that you are buying a product whose effects have been studied and proven.
Human strains: Only human bacterial strains can colonize your gut . Other bacteria, such as bacteria found in fermented foods such as yogurt and in soil-based probiotics, cannot colonize the gut and usually pass through your body within a few days. For lasting positive effects, you want to make sure that you have human strains that can colonize.
Free of animal proteins, allergens and fillers: It is recommended to choose a probiotic that is free of dairy and other animal proteins, gluten, soy and yeast to ensure you are taking a clean product.
Delivery mechanism: When you ingest your probiotic, the probiotic travels through the harsh, very acidic environment of the stomach before it reaches the small and large intestine.
Reduce Inflammation With Probiotics & Improve Digestive Symptoms
Here comes the big one – probiotics reduce inflammation within the gut .
Inflammation is particularly detrimental to proper digestion. It exaggerates intestinal permeability, interferes with insulin signaling, and can cause digestive symptoms .
Why does dysbiosis cause inflammation in the first place? Well, bad bacteria living within the gut have toxic molecules called lipopolysaccharides in their outer membrane, which trigger an immune and inflammatory response in the body. And that response is associated with digestive symptoms, among other health issues.
With less bad bacteria and LPS around, inflammation will go down.
So lets connect the dots since probiotics may increase the amount of beneficial bacteria and reduce counts of bad bacteria in your gut, they may also reduce the amount of lipopolysaccharides in your body, which in turn lowers inflammation.
And lowering inflammation is key to improving your digestion, since inflammation is associated with digestive issues .
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