While the main treatment options for constipation are changes to your diet to include more fiber and lifestyle changes such as exercise, probiotics can also help support normal bowel movements.
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Studies have found that constipation is associated with lower levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria probiotics in the gut.1, 2, 3 Could taking these probiotics help support normal bowel movements? Let’s take a look at the clinical evidence.
One study also found the combination of Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium breve as well as Bifidobaterium lactis by itself to be helpful for increasing the number of bowel movements, sensation of complete emptying, and bloating when compared to placebo.5 Another study found Lactobacillus reuterii to be helpful for constipation when compared to a placebo control.6 These results are promising but just how do probiotics work for constipation?
A meta-study or study of studies that pooled data from 16 previous studies found that a median dose of 6.5 billion CFUs/day of probiotics reduced the gastrointestinal transit time by 12.4 hours.4 This means that probiotics were able to decrease the amount of time food stays in the gastrointestinal tract by 12.4 hours. Food that spends less time in the gut means less constipation.
The study also found that while all probiotics decreased gastrointestinal transit time, only certain probiotics increased stool frequency and improved stool consistency as measured by the Bristol stool form scale or modified versions of it.
Subjects who took the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis had 1.5 more bowel movements per week compared to control and had improved stool consistency. Subjects that took the probiotic Lactobacillus casei Shirota defecated 0.2 times less per week compared to placebo on a weighted mean difference. Each probiotic strain is different and has different effects on the body. Some probiotics helpful for constipation may or may not be helpful for other gastrointestinal problems and vice versa.
If you’re looking for probiotics for constipation make sure the one you choose has strains found to be helpful for constipation such as Nexabiotic® Advanced Probiotic.