The prevalence of constipation among Australian adults is 6-30%. Females, seniors, people of low social-economic status, and those with a history of depression are more prone to becoming constipated.
Although most constipation cases can be resolved with at-home remedies such as consuming probiotics and high-fiber foods, consistent constipation that lasts for several weeks can be a sign of an underlying digestive tract disease or disorder.
This article will discuss in detail what constipation is, its signs and symptoms, causes, and its remedies. It also discusses the benefits of probiotics for constipation and the strains of live bacteria that are most effective in relieving constipation.
Constipation is defined as having fewer bowel movements than normal. Although the frequency of bowel movements varies from one person to another, you should at least have three bowel movements in a week.
Some people have one or two bowel movements a day. Observe your pattern, and if you “go” fewer times than usual, you might be experiencing constipation.
If you have constipation, the waste in the digestive tract goes too slowly, allowing more time than usual for the colon to absorb water. This results in hard stool that is difficult to pass.
Some common signs and symptoms of constipation include:
The most common causes of constipation include:
If constipation goes untreated for a long time, it can cause complications such as:
A lot of people resort to self-care and home remedies, especially for occasionally mild to moderate constipation. These remedies include:
However, if constipation symptoms persist, you must see a doctor as you may be dealing with other health conditions. You should see a doctor if:
Probiotics are the live healthy bacteria commonly found in certain fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kefir.
Also, there are probiotic supplements available in the form of pills, capsules, powders, and liquids that can be bought over-the-counter.
Once taken, they improve the gut microbiome, which enhances the various functions of the digestive tract and encourages the good bacteria.
Research shows that the best probiotics for constipation also have additional benefits such as boosting immunity, reducing inflammation, and promoting heart health.
There are different types of probiotics available in different dosages and strains of bacteria.
Naturally, the large intestines have a high volume of the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species of bacteria. As such, the best probiotic strain for constipation is one containing the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus strains of bacteria.
The most common Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus strains that are found in probiotics for constipation include:
Once consumed, probiotics have certain effects on the digestive tract, which alleviate constipation. The effects include:
Although probiotics are generally safe for various categories of people, including kids, pregnant women, and the elderly, they may cause some side effects.
For example, gas, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea. These symptoms are often common when you start using the prebiotics, but in most cases, they subside with continued use.
If you have underlying health conditions or are on other medications, it is best to consult your doctor about probiotics and learn more about beneficial bacteria.
Constipation results from an imbalance of the good and healthy bacteria in the gut. The imbalance can be caused by various factors, including pregnancy, low water intake, consuming a low-fiber diet, and certain medications.
Probiotics, particularly those containing live Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species, stimulate peristalsis for a smoother bowel movement and improved digestive health. If you have persistent constipation, it is important to see a doctor about it as there could be an underlying health condition.