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Best Probiotics For Constipation Relief

best probiotics for constipation

If you’re struggling with constipation, adding a probiotic to your daily routine could put an end to the pushing and straining.

While probiotics are better known for boosting our gut health and immune system, certain strains are better than others at alleviating digestive problems.

That's why the best probiotics for constipation should contain bacterial strains proven to help you poop regularly again.

Constipation is a Growing Epidemic 

More people like you are unable to poop regularly. 

According to the American Gastroenterological Association, 16% of Americans suffer from chronic constipation. That figure rises to 33% in people over the age of 60. 

Futhermore, since 1997 hospital admissions (1) related to constipation has more than doubled.

And like most suffers you've tried everything from prune juice, mineral oil, Metamucil, and laxatives such as Laculose and Miralax.

In fact, the total sales for over the counter laxatives in the US came to a whopping $1.43 billion.

Someone is a making a lot of money but the growing constipation problem is not going away. 

What's Blocking the Nations Colon 

The main culprit is a seismic change in what we eat. We're eating less fiber and drinking fewer fluids - two essential components for a healthy colon that keeps us regular.

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.

To 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. 

Dysbiosis and Constipation

The human digestive system is home to trillions of bacteria and this thriving community of bugs is called the gut microbiome.

Typically, the microbiome is a harmonious balance between good and bad bacteria. 

However, the lifestyle factors mentioned earlier disrupt the sensitive balance leading to a state of functional dysbiosis - a gut imbalance often associated with constipation (2)(3).

Constipation is often related to an imbalance in the intestinal microbiota.

Recent studies show that constipation is related to an imbalance in the intestinal microbiota, mainly involving reduced levels of the healthy bacteria Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus and an increase in pathogenic bacteria. (4

Addressing the imbalance can help restore a regular bowel movements and more research shows us that probiotic bacteria can help.

Can Probiotics Help With Constipation

Certain gut micro-organisms influence the contraction of intestinal muscles to mix and move food along the digestive tract.

Interestingly, several clinical studies show people with constipation have fewer strains of the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.

A good reason you're not pooping like you use to is because your gut is lacking probiotics strains that help stimulate the bowel movements.

These two species are the most common friendly bacteria found in the human gut microbiome.

Therefore, probiotic strains belonging to both species are widely acknowledged as the most effective at dealing with constipation.(5)

Research suggests that up to 70% of adults with constipation can find some relief from probiotics. 

3 Ways Probiotics Can Help You Poop Regularly

There are several studies assessing probiotics and constipation and their effects on gut motility, colonic transit and stool frequency.

Although more studies are needed the current batch identify 3 ways in which specific probiotic strains have a beneficial effect on gut motility.

1. Produce more Short Chain Fatty Acids 

Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are produced as a result of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli breaking down and digesting carbohydrates in the large intestines.

Its believed SCFAs stimulate the neural receptors inside the lining of the gut wall that trigger peristalsis - 'wave-like' muscle contractions that move food along the intestinal tract.(6)

2. Boosts the Happy Hormone Serotonin

Changes in the gut microbiome can have a profound effect on hormone production and neurotransmission in the central nervous system.

But more importantly, the neurotransmitter Serotonin has an essential role in digestive health including the stimulation of the peristaltic reflex. (7)

90% of serotonin is produced in the gut

Its also important to remember that 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut. Therefore, the more serotonin is made available the greater improvement in intestinal motility.  

Studies (8) suggest that microorganisms in the GI tract can increase the production of tryptophan an amino acid that's converted into serotonin.

3. Bile Resistance Enhances Bowel Movement Frequency

Bile is a digestive fluid that's released into the intestines to enable use to breakdown, digest and absorb fat lipids.

However, bile acid has powerful antimicrobial properties that can kill intestinal bacteria. 

And the ability of probiotic bacteria to tolerate bile acid is essential to their survival and persistence in the intestinal tract. (9)

Bile tolerance and resistance are crucial requirements in a probiotic

If the bacterial species is killed off before its reaches the GI tract it's essentially useless. For this reason, bile tolerance and resistance are crucial requirements in a probiotic.

Thankfully, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are highly resistant to the damaging effects of bile. (10)

Populating the GI tract with bile resistant probiotic strains can result in higher levels of bile salts. This has a laxative effect of stimulating peristalsis and improving colonic motility  - faster bowel movements. (11)

Best Probiotics for Relieving 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
  • Soften the stools

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. 

Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS®-1

L. acidophilus DDS-1 is one of the most rigorously studied friendly bacteria strains. 

The strain has several characteristics and beneficial properties that make it one of the most effective strains in helping people with digestives issues such as chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

Highly Resistant and Persistent Strain

L. acidophilus DDS-1 is highly resistance to bile salts and pancreatic enzymes. This means it can survive harsh acidic environment of stomach and reach the colon alive. 

What's more, studies show that L. acidophilus DDS-1 stays in the gut longer than other strains. Thats important because the longer a strain stays in the gut the longer it can benefit the host - which is you.

Powerful Anti-pathogenic Properties 

As a powerful inhibitor of intestinal pathogens,  DDS-1 is unique because of its ability to produce acidophilin, a natural anti-pathogenic compound.

When combined with cranberry flavonoids DDS-1 has shown promising results in inhibiting urinary tract pathogens such as Escherichia coli (12).

Functional Constipation

L. acidophilus DDS-1 was used as the primary strain in a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study and tested on 100 patients with symptoms of constipation and bloating.

Over a period of 4 weeks the 100 men and women were randomized to receive either the probiotic blend, at a dose of 15 Billion CFU daily, or a placebo.

After 4 weeks the probiotic group experienced improved bowel movements in terms of stool consistency and frequency.

Interestingly, the probiotic group had a 'significant increase in Ruminococcaceae - a family of bacteria essential for a balanced gut microbiota. 

For example, a lack of Ruminococcaceae has been linked to microbial dysbiosis in people suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. (13).

But that's not all, Ruminococcaceae is also associated with producing SCFAs. As mentioned earlier, SCFA's stimulate peristalsis and faster intestinal transit times (14). 

The bacteria can also have beneficial effect of weight loss and improved metabolism (15).

You can find the L. acidophilus DDS-1 strain in Bowtrol All Natural Probiotic 

Bifidobacterium Lactis BB-12®

B. lactis BB-12 is extensively researched bacteria strains shown to be effective in helping relieve bloating and constipation.

In one of the biggest gold standard clinical studies determining the effects of B. lactis BB-12 on people with slow bowel movements (16).

The clinical trial led by Dorte Eskesen involved 1000 people with a low defecation frequency of two to four times per week.

They were divided into three groups with the first group receiving a daily dose of 10 billion CFU of B. lactis BB-12, the second group 1 billion CFU and the third group a placebo. The trial period was four weeks.

At the end of the trial, the average defecation frequency of the two probiotic groups were 'significantly higher compared with placebo group'.

In other studies, B. lactis BB-12 was shown to be effective to specific groups susceptible to constipation, namely pregnant women and the elderly.

Bifidobacterium Lactis HN019 

B. Lactis HN019 is another probiotic strain extensively researched on its effects on constipation.

In a randomized placebo-controlled trial involving B. lactis HN019 (17), 228 adults with functional constipation were divided into 3 groups.

The first group received a high dose of B. lactis HN019, the second group a low dose and the third group received a placebo. The trial period lasted 28 days.

Results revealed both probiotic groups showed an increase in stool frequency compared to the placebo group. However, the probiotic groups showed no significant difference in colonic transit time. 

Another randomized control trial (18) that assessed the effects of B. lactis HN019 on whole gut transit time and functional GI symptoms also revealed similar results.

100 subjects with functional GI symptoms and a median age of 44 were divided into a high dose, low dose and placebo group. The high dose group received a daily dose of 17 Billion CFU's, while the low dose group received 1.8 billion CFU's per day. 

Results showed a significant decrease in whole gut transit time in both the  B. lactis HN019 groups compared to the placebo group.

Lactobacillus Paracasei

L. Paracasei is highly adaptable probiotic species found in both the human and animal gut.

The species is found in fermented food such as yogurt and vegetables. Its also  a well known immune booster, anti-inflammatory and digestive health booster.

A randomized controlled trial carried out by the National Institute of Digestive Diseases in Italy (19) assesed the role of L. paracasei in the management of constipation. 

The 20 patients involved in the trial consumed either 180gm of ordinary artichokes or artichokes enriched with L. Paracasei.

Patients who consumed the probiotic enriched artichoke experienced higher levels of relief from their GI symptoms, improved stool form and increased production of SCFAs.

Bifidobacterium Longum

B. longum is a very stable bacterial species that is highly resistant enabling it to colonize the GI tract effectively. 

lt's also known to reduce pH levels in the colon which helps stimulate bowel movements. 

In a randomized controlled trial by Helsinki University Hospital, Finland (20), researchers assessed the Bifidobacterium longum strains effects on the frequency and consistency of bowel movements among 209 nursing home residents. 

At the end of the trial researchers found that the residents who had consumed the oats enriched with B. Longum experienced more frequent bowel movements. compared to the placebo group.

You can find L. Paracasei and B. Longum in Probiotic 40-Billion 

  1. 1
    Inpatient burden of constipation in the United States: an analysis of national trends in the United States from 1997 to 2010.
  2. 2
    The Intestinal Microenvironment and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.
  3. 3
    Alterations in the colonic flora and intestinal permeability and evidence of immune activation in chronic constipation.
  4. 4
    Mechanisms of Action of Probiotics and the Gastrointestinal Microbiota on Gut Motility and Constipation.
  5. 5
    Interactions between commensal bacteria and gut sensorimotor function in health and disease.
  6. 6
    Mechanisms of Action of Probiotics and the Gastrointestinal Microbiota on Gut Motility and Constipation.
  7. 7
    Role of serotonin in gastrointestinal motility and irritable bowel syndrome.
  8. 8
    The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review.
  9. 9
    Beneficial bile acid metabolism from Lactobacillus plantarum of food origin.
  10. 10
    Bile resistance mechanisms in Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
  11. 11
    Physiology of the Gastrointestinal Tract, Sixth Edition, a Two-Volume set, covers the study of the mechanical, physical and biochemical functions of the GI Tract.
  12. 12
    Cranberry Polyphenols and Prevention against Urinary Tract Infections: Relevant Considerations.
  13. 13
    Butyrate-producing bacteria supplemented in vitro to Crohn’s disease patient microbiota increased butyrate production and enhanced intestinal epithelial barrier integrity.
  14. 14
    The role of short-chain fatty acids in the interplay between diet, gut microbiota, and host energy metabolism.
  15. 15
    Gut microbiome diversity and high-fibre intake are related to lower long-term weight gain.
  16. 16
    Effect of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis, BB-12®, on defecation frequency in healthy subjects with low defecation frequency and abdominal discomfort.
  17. 17
    Effects of 28-day Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis HN019 supplementation on colonic transit time and gastrointestinal symptoms in adults with functional constipation.
  18. 18
    Dose-response effect of Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 on whole gut transit time and functional gastrointestinal symptoms in adults.
  19. 19
    Randomised clinical trial: efficacy of Lactobacillus paracasei-enriched artichokes in the treatment of patients with functional constipation.
  20. 20
    Fermented cereal with specific bifidobacteria normalizes bowel movements in elderly nursing home residents.