Probiotics for constipation: benefits to improve intestinal transit

Constipation is an intestinal disorder characterized by infrequent bowel movements and hard stools. Probiotics, microorganisms beneficial to the body, play an important role in digestive health

Probiotics for constipation

Constipation is an intestinal disorder characterized by infrequent bowel movements and hard stools . In addition to drug therapy, it is increasingly common to use probiotics for constipation . These are microorganisms that are beneficial to the body and play an important role in digestive health . They help improve intestinal motility and restore a balanced microbiota. In addition, a diet rich in soluble fiber and adequate water consumption are essential to prevent constipation. Combining probiotics with healthy habits can be an effective option to relieve constipation.

What is constipation?

Functional constipation is a common digestive system disorder characterized by difficulty passing stool regularly and satisfactorily. A person is considered constipated when they have fewer than three bowel movements per week.

Causes of constipation

There are various causes that can contribute to the development of constipation. Among the most common are:

  • Aging itself , since the muscles of the intestine weaken over time.
  • The sedentary lifestyle , which decreases physical activity and affects intestinal motility.
  • Reducing fluid consumption , which can lead to dehydration and harder stools .
  • The lack of fiber in the diet , since fiber provides volume to the feces and facilitates its passage through the intestine.
  • The use of some medications , such as opioids, antidepressants, or medications to control blood pressure.

Symptoms of constipation

Symptoms of constipation can vary from person to person, but the most common include:

  • Infrequent and difficult bowel movements .
  • Hard , dry or lumpy stools.
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort .
  • Feeling that the intestine has not been completely emptied.
  • Abdominal swelling .

In more severe cases, chronic constipation can cause complications, such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures , so it is important to address it appropriately.

Probiotics for constipation and their role in intestinal health

woman with constipation problems

Los probióticos son microorganismos beneficiosos que desempeñan un papel importante en la salud intestinal. Estos microorganismos ayudan a restablecer y mantener un equilibrio saludable en la microbiota intestinal, lo cual es fundamental para un funcionamiento óptimo del sistema digestivo.

Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that play an important role in intestinal health. These microorganisms help restore and maintain a healthy balance in the intestinal microbiota , which is essential for optimal functioning of the digestive system.

Probiotics work in different ways to promote gut health . One of the most notable benefits is its ability to regulate the intestinal microbiota . These beneficial bacteria help maintain a proper balance of microorganisms in the intestine, which in turn contributes to better intestinal function.

Another important aspect of probiotics’ role in gut health is their ability to strengthen the gut’s protective barrier . These microorganisms help strengthen the integrity of intestinal cells and promote the production of substances that act as protectors of the intestinal mucosa.

Additionally, probiotics for constipation may improve intestinal motility , that is, the ability of the intestine to move food through the digestive system. This is especially important in cases of constipation, since adequate intestinal motility facilitates the passage of stool and prevents stagnation.

Probiotics also contribute to the production of lactic acid , which helps maintain a favorable intestinal pH for the growth of beneficial bacteria. Likewise, some studies have suggested that certain strains of probiotics can increase the production of mucin , a substance that lubricates stool and makes it easier to pass through the intestine, thus improving symptoms of constipation.

It is important to note that the effectiveness of probiotics can vary depending on the strains and doses used. Therefore, it is advisable to consult a health professional, doctor or pharmacist, to receive appropriate instructions and determine which probiotic is most appropriate for each particular case.

Taking probiotics to relieve constipation

Taking probiotics has become a very common option to relieve constipation. These beneficial microorganisms can help balance intestinal flora and improve intestinal motility.

Recommended probiotic strains

There are different probiotic strains that have been shown to be effective in the treatment of constipation. Some of the most recommended strains are:

  • Bifidobacterium lactis : This probiotic has been shown to improve stool consistency and frequency of bowel movements in people with chronic constipation. Specifically, the Bifidobacterium lactis strain (HN019) is one of the strains with the most studies in this regard (1) .
  • Lactobacillus casei : This probiotic strain has been shown to help regulate intestinal transit and relieve the discomfort associated with constipation. In this case, the Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain has several studies that show improvement in the treatment of constipation (2),(3)
  • Lactobacillus reuteri : This is a strain with several studies for the treatment of both constipation and diarrhea (4),(5)
  • Combinations of various probiotics have also proven effective in treating constipation. This is the case of the probiotic mixture formed by the strains Lactobacillus paracasei Lpc-37, Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 (6)
magnifying glass showing the intestinal microbiota

It is important to note that each person may respond differently to probiotics. It is advisable to consult with a health professional to determine which probiotic strain is most suitable based on individual needs.

Ways to take probiotics

Probiotics for constipation can be found in different forms, including supplements and fermented foods . These are some of the most common ways to take probiotics:

  • Probiotic supplements : Probiotic supplements come in the form of capsules, tablets, or powders. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and the dosage recommended by our doctor or pharmacist.
  • Fermented foods : Some fermented foods, such as yogurt , kefir , or sauerkraut , contain probiotic strains beneficial for intestinal health. Including these foods in your diet can be a natural way to get probiotics.

It is important to note that not all supplements and fermented foods contain the same quantity and quality of probiotics. Therefore, it is advisable to look for quality products and verify that they contain the probiotic strains recommended for constipation.

Benefits of probiotics to improve constipation

Probiotics provide a number of benefits to improve constipation. Here are some of them:

Improved intestinal motility

Probiotics, such as Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus casei , have been shown to improve intestinal motility . These beneficial microorganisms help stimulate intestinal contractions, which promotes the proper movement of food through the digestive system. This helps prevent the accumulation of stool and reduces the incidence of constipation.

Restoration of the intestinal microbiota

Probiotics act as colonies of beneficial microorganisms that help restore and maintain a healthy balance in the intestinal microbiota. These beneficial microorganisms compete with harmful bacteria and contribute to improved digestive health. By restoring the balance of the intestinal flora, probiotics help regulate intestinal transit and reduce the symptoms of constipation.

Regulation of intestinal transit

Probiotics play an important role in regulating intestinal transit . These beneficial microorganisms improve the consistency of stool, preventing it from becoming hard and dry. Additionally, some probiotics stimulate the production of mucin , a substance that lubricates stool and makes it easier to pass through the intestine. All of this contributes to regularizing intestinal transit and relieving the symptoms of constipation.

Recommended foods to avoid constipation

One of the most effective ways to prevent constipation is to maintain a balanced diet rich in fiber . By choosing the right foods, we can facilitate intestinal transit and improve our digestive health. These are some recommended foods:

Foods rich in soluble fiber

  • Fresh fruits : such as apples, pears, oranges and plums, which provide a good amount of soluble fiber.
  • Green leafy vegetables : such as spinach, chard or lettuce, which are high in fiber and promote good intestinal function.
  • Legumes: such as lentils, chickpeas or beans, which contain soluble fiber and provide essential nutrients.
  • Whole grains : such as oats, brown rice or wheat, which are an excellent source of fiber and help regulate intestinal transit.
  • Nuts and seeds : such as walnuts, almonds or chia, which in addition to being rich in fiber, also provide healthy fats for the body.

Importance of a balanced diet

In addition to consuming foods rich in soluble fiber, it is essential to maintain a balanced diet. This means including different food groups to obtain all the nutrients necessary for the proper functioning of the body. Some tips are:

  • Make sure to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your daily meals.
  • Opt for lean meats, fish and eggs as protein sources .
  • Prefer low-fat dairy to obtain calcium and other essential nutrients.
  • Limit the consumption of processed foods rich in saturated fats and added sugars.
  • Don’t forget the importance of drinking enough water throughout the day to maintain adequate hydration.

balanced diet , combined with foods rich in soluble fiber, can significantly contribute to preventing and relieving constipation. It is advisable to consult with a health professional to receive personalized advice on the most appropriate diet according to individual needs.

Other healthy habits to improve intestinal transit

Adequate water consumption

Water plays a fundamental role in maintaining digestive health and, specifically, in proper intestinal transit . It’s important to ensure you maintain adequate water intake throughout the day to avoid dehydration , which can contribute to constipation. It is recommended to consume at least 2 liters of water daily, distributing them throughout the day.

In addition, it is advisable to drink a glass of warm water on an empty stomach , as this can stimulate bowel movement and facilitate evacuation. You can carry a bottle of water with you to drink throughout the day, and remember that other drinks such as infusions or natural juices can also help maintain adequate hydration.

Regular practice of physical exercise

sedentary lifestyle is one of the factors that can contribute to constipation, so it is important to incorporate regular physical exercise into our daily routine. Physical activity stimulates intestinal peristalsis , which promotes the movement of feces throughout the intestine.

You can choose any type of exercise that you find enjoyable and that you can do regularly. Walking, running, swimming or practicing yoga are some options that can help you improve intestinal transit. Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, and if you have a sedentary lifestyle, start slowly and increase the intensity gradually.

Remember that a combination of physical exercise and a balanced diet, along with the use of probiotics, can enhance the results in the treatment of constipation.

In summary

  • Consume at least 2 liters of water daily, distributed throughout the day.
  • Drink a glass of warm water on an empty stomach to stimulate bowel movement.
  • Incorporate regular physical exercise, such as walking, running or swimming, to stimulate intestinal peristalsis.
  • Perform at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day.
  • Start gradually if you lead a sedentary life.

General recommendations for the treatment of constipation

Avoid habits that promote constipation

To improve constipation, it is important to identify and avoid those habits that promote it. Some recommendations include:

  • Maintain a regular bowel routine , trying to go to the bathroom at the same time every day.
  • Do not ignore the need to defecate . It is important to go to the bathroom as soon as the need arises.
  • Do not exert excessive effort when evacuating , as this can make intestinal transit difficult .
  • Exercise good posture when in the bathroom, using a stool or supporting your feet to elevate your knees.
  • Avoid a sedentary lifestyle and encourage regular physical activity, such as walking or playing sports.

Importance of maintaining good digestive health

In addition to following the recommendations above, it is essential to maintain good digestive health to prevent and treat constipation. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

  • Eat a balanced diet rich in soluble fiber, which is found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
  • Ensure adequate hydration by drinking enough water throughout the day.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of processed and refined foods, which tend to lack fiber and essential nutrients .
  • Moderate the consumption of foods rich in saturated fats, sugars and salt, as they can affect digestive health.
  • Eat regular meals and avoid skipping important meals, promoting regular intestinal transit.
  • Reduce or limit the consumption of alcohol and carbonated drinks, which can irritate the digestive system.

By following these recommendations and taking into account the instructions of a health professional, it is possible to improve constipation and maintain good intestinal health.

(1)Ibarra A, Latreille-Barbier M, Donazzolo Y, Pelletier X, Ouwehand AC. Effects of 28-day Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis HN019 supplementation on colonic transit time and gastrointestinal symptoms in adults with functional constipation: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, and dose-ranging trial. Gut Microbes. 2018 May 4;9(3):236–51.

(2)Sakai T, Makino H, Ishikawa E, Oishi K, Kushiro A. Fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota reduces incidence of hard or lumpy stools in healthy population. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Jun;62(4):423–30.

(3)Koebnick C, Wagner I, Leitzmann P, Stern U, Zunft HJ. Probiotic beverage containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with chronic constipation. Can J Gastroenterol. 2003;17:655–659.

(4)Ojetti V, Ianiro G, Tortora A, D‘Angelo G, Di Rienzo TA, Bibbò S, et al. The effect of Lactobacillus reuteri supplementation in adults with chronic functional constipation: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Gastrointestin Liver Dis. 2014 Dec 1;23(4):387–91.

(5)Riezzo G, Orlando A, D’Attoma B, Linsalata M, Martulli M, Russo F. Randomised double blind placebo controlled trial on Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938: improvement in symptoms and bowel habit in functional constipation. Benef Microbes. 2018 Jan 29;9(1):51–60.

(6)Waitzberg DL, Logullo LC, Bittencourt AF, Torrinhas RS, Shiroma GM, Paulino NP, et al. Effect of synbiotic in constipated adult women – a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of clinical response. Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb;32(1):27–33

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