Probiotics are not laxatives and their purpose is not to stimulate a bowel movement but taking probiotics can be helpful to people suffering from constipation. Researchers have concluded that probiotics can help with constipation due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and help regulate bowel movements.
One might think these days, nothing is taboo. Strangely though, one subject that concerns us all rarely makes it into the conversation: I’m talking about poop.
Recently at a dinner in Manhattan I noticed that my neighbor on the right was only pretending to eat. She whispered into my ear that her gut felt like concrete and she was in quite a lot of pain. It turned out she had not relieved herself for more than a day and her constipation was giving her so much pain and terrible anxiety.
While we tried to whisper more and more guests joined in with their experiences on digestion. Interestingly, no one had a real idea what “good digestion” and “good poop” actually looked like.
Most people don’t often think about their poop and even more rarely talk about it. To many, poop is just a waste product, so why should they bother learning more about it? In reality, poop can tell us a whole lot about our health!
Our intestines contain 400-600 strains of different good bacterial strains, each of which perform critical functions. This collection of good bacteria in our intestines is called our gut microbiome. It is not surprising that an imbalance in our gut microbiome can lead to digestive discomfort, including irregularities in bowel movements in the form of constipation or diarrhea.
A high-quality probiotic supplement can help keep your bowel movements regular and support your overall gut health. And shield you from the discomfort associated with irregular digestion and bowel movements.
Probiotic Supplements and Constipation
Constipation is defined as less than three bowel movements per week. For some individuals, ensuring sufficient fiber and fluid intake may already be enough to help regulate their bowel movements.
The use of probiotic supplements in various cases of constipation has been studied by many researchers over the years. The conclusion: Probiotic supplements can be extremely helpful to those suffering from constipation. Probiotics rebalance the gut flora and improve mucus production in the intestines, which in turn can improve the frequency and consistency of your bowel movements.
Constipation During Pregnancy
An estimated 40% of pregnant women suffer from constipation toward the end of their pregnancy. This may be due to the changes in hormones, reduction in movement and the physical changes of the body.
Once again, research shows that probiotics can be a powerful tool to help regulate digestion. In one study, only 2.4% of women who had taken a symbiotic (i.e., prebiotic and probiotic) during the trial suffered from such problems at the end of their pregnancy – this is a remarkable 94% reduction compared to baseline. Probiotic bacteria’s help with relieving constipation is just one possible benefit of taking a probiotic supplement while pregnant.
Constipation in Children
Constipation in children can have a variety of underlying causes, including dietary errors such as too little fiber or too little fluid intake, food allergies or sensitivities, stress and medical conditions.
Medical causes for constipation should be ruled out by a qualified healthcare practitioner. Once medical conditions have been ruled out, ensuring that the child eats enough fiber and drinks enough water each day may be enough to improve bowel movements.
In addition, adding a high-quality probiotic supplement can help regulate the child’s digestion. Probiotic bacteria lower the pH value in the gut by producing lactic acid; in doing so, they speed up digestion as well as the further transport of the consumed food.
Certain probiotic bacteria can also increase mucus production by your intestinal cells, which in turn help movement of digested particles through your colon.
While On Certain Types of Medication
Many medications have a known negative effect on the gut flora and your digestive system. For example, antibiotics and radiation therapies greatly diminishes your healthy gut flora, and opioid pills and other painkillers can lead to constipation or inflammation in the gut.
In these cases, probiotics are a powerful way to strengthen your gut flora, restore bacterial diversity and support healthy digestion.
Probiotics and Diarrhea
Two of the most common causes of diarrhea are traveler’s diarrhea while visiting foreign countries and antibiotic-associated diarrhea during or after antibiotic treatment. Why is that? During travel, you might get exposed to foreign pathogens (harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi).
When these pathogens reach your digestive tract, your body reacts with diarrhea to get rid of them as fast as possible. During antibiotic treatment, your gut microbiome is severely compromised as antibiotics kill your good gut bacteria in addition to any bad bacteria that are making you sick. This leaves room for pathogens to settle in your gut, which can also lead to diarrhea.
In both cases, a high-quality probiotic supplement restores your diversity of good bacteria so there is less room for the “bad guys” to flourish. In addition, recent research shows that some strains of bacteria can actually fight certain bad bacteria and viruses.
For example, our product OMNi-BiOTiC® AB10 has demonstrated in clinical studies to significantly reduce rates of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and diarrhea associated with Clostridium Difficile (a very aggressive pathogen that causes severe diarrhea and inflammation in the gut).
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a digestive disorder that is accompanied by symptoms including stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation. Researchers and physicians today often recommend probiotics in helping alleviate IBS symptoms.
In one literature review, the authors reviewed 43 Randomized Control Trials that examined the use of probiotic supplements in IBS. They concluded that “probiotics are effective treatments for IBS” symptoms. In a similar literature review, authors reviewed 15 clinical trials to investigate the efficacy of probiotics on IBS. The authors concluded that “Probiotics reduce pain and symptom severity scores. The results demonstrate the beneficial effects of probiotics in IBS patients in comparison with placebo.”
If you suffer from IBS related diarrhea, you might want to read more about OMNi-BiOTiC® STRESS Release. In a study with IBS patients, daily intake of OMNi-BiOTiC® STRESS Release reduced symptom severity, improved gut barrier function, and increased bacterial diversity in the gut.
Selecting the Right Probiotic for You
When looking for a probiotic dietary supplement, we recommend looking for a product with the following features:
Multispecies and multistrain: The product should contain multiple species and strains of bacteria.
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 to work.
Free of allergens and fillers: It is recommended to choose a probiotic that is free of gluten, dairy, soy and yeast to ensure you are taking a clean product.
Additional Benefits of Taking Probiotics
In summary, probiotics are powerful dietary supplements to help improve your digestion. Whether you have constipation or diarrhea, adding a high-quality probiotic to your dietary supplements could lead to big improvements and health benefits.
At the same time, it is important to remember that probiotics are not the “magic pill.” In addition, we recommend you eat plenty of dietary fiber (whole grains, beans and legumes, leafy and green vegetables), drink plenty of water each day and follow a balanced diet. If your digestive issues persist or worsen, consult a healthcare practitioner to dig deeper into potential causes!