Constipation is a common ailment that affects people of all ages. You can often treat constipation at home with some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, however many people opt for a probiotic to help get their digestion back on track.

Probiotics are one of the most used supplements for the gut. While there are many benefits to probiotics under certain circumstances, is this really the optimal gut supplement for constipation?

This article discusses the use of probiotics, how they may help constipation, and explores the best probiotic supplement for constipation!

A Brief Introduction to Your Gut

Living in our gut are over 100 trillion microorganisms, ranging from bacteria to fungi. This habitat is referred to as our gut microbiome or gut flora, which is a kind of mini ecosystem made up of many types of bacteria.

The bacterial communities found in our microbiome have many different functions in the body which are vital for our health and well-being, such as assisting with immune system function and helping to absorb key nutrients.

Much research that is now emerging suggests many links between your gut and other aspects of your health, such as mental health and weight loss, and is often labelled as a “second brain”.

An imbalance in our gut flora can be linked to many health issues, including immune system function, psychological well-being, weight management, and other chronic health issues.

Due to the recent discoveries of the remarkable importance of our gut microbiome, there is an increased awareness around how to look after the communities living in your gut.

To put it simply, if we look after our gut, our gut will look after us!

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help maintain our digestive health and boost the immune system. You can find probiotics in supplement form or in foods sources such as yogurt, and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi.

It is thought that taking probiotics can help restore balance in the gut if it becomes unbalanced.

It can become unbalanced because of poor nutrition and lifestyle habits, or after a course of antibiotics (antibiotics can’t differentiate from good and bad bacteria, so it eliminates much of the good bacteria found in our gut in order to treat the infection).

Though, it is still not clear how probiotics may promote general health, so they are usually recommended under specific circumstances or conditions.

Probiotics are also often used to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, bloating, and constipation. However, even the research in this area is not totally clear.

Let’s look at what exactly constipation is and how probiotics may help!

What is Constipation and What Causes it?

Constipation means that your bowel movements are challenging or happen less often than usual. Most of us suffer from constipation at some point in our lives, though it’s often treatable at home and passes within a few days.

Some of the telltale signs of constipation include:

  • Fewer bowel movements than normal
  • Hard or small stools
  • Trouble or straining to have a bowel movement
  • Bloating

You will usually experience constipation as a result of:

  • Changing your activity or diet
  • Lacking fluid intake
  • Lacking fiber intake
  • Being too sedentary
  • Stress
  • Medication side effects
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

And many other conditions which can cause constipation as a symptom.

Usually drinking more water, increasing your fiber intake, and doing some exercise can get things moving again, though it’s important to consult your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after trying to make these changes.

How Can Probiotics Help Constipation?

With any digestive issue, this would often result in an imbalance of the gut microbiome. This is where probiotics may prove some help and assistance with getting everything back in balance.

As we have established, probiotics can help restore the natural balance of our gut flora. While it is not yet concluded whether this would be helpful for already healthy individuals, it appears probiotics may be beneficial in situations where the gut has been compromised by illness or treatment.

Some research suggests that probiotics may be helpful in cases where an individual has taken a course of antibiotics, or is seeking to ease symptoms of IBS, which often include constipation.

Though, there are a few issues with probiotics that are worth taking into consideration:

  • Probiotics are classed as a food, so are not always regulated to a quality standard
  • The product may not contain the bacteria stated on the label
  • The bacteria contained in the product are live and fragile, meaning they may not survive long enough to reach your gut
  • The product may not contain enough bacteria to have an effect

So, while probiotics are generally harmless for most of us, it may burn a hole in your pocket as opposed to making a meaningful difference to your gut flora.

Does this mean that there is an effective alternative?

Probiotics Vs Prebiotics: Which is Better for Constipation?

As we have discussed, the benefits of probiotics for general health are not overly convincing. While they may help with constipation and other bowel-related issues, there is still speculation about the quality of the product you may be purchasing.

This is why many people opt for prebiotics instead.

Prebiotics are described as the food that feeds the bacteria in our gut. Prebiotics are made up of certain fibers that help nourish the living organisms in our gut, helping to stimulate their activity and growth.

You can find prebiotics as a supplement or in foods such as chicory root, apple skin, bananas, and beans.

It is thought that prebiotics are more effective in supporting our digestive health compared to probiotics. This is mainly because prebiotics feed our existing bacteria, helping it to thrive.

Probiotics, on the other hand, add more bacteria and new strains which can risk overloading the gut and causing more issues. Prebiotics also have a much longer and more stable shelf life, which results in further benefits.

Additionally, prebiotics do a lot more than probiotics, such as:

  • Supporting digestive regularity and gut comfort
  • Helping fat loss by controlling appetite
  • Supporting bone health by enhancing calcium absorption
  • Helping to support heart health by regulating bad cholesterol

So, how can prebiotics help constipation?

Prebiotics contain soluble fiber which, when digested and absorbs water, forms a gel as it passes through the GI tract. This can help with digestive comfort by softening or bulking stools as necessary.

Bulkier stools help with constipation and related straining, encourage increased regularity and gut comfort as the stool passes through your system.

One of the key diet recommendations for those suffering with constipation is to increase soluble fiber intake, so taking a prebiotic supplement would simply be a no-brainer!

Best Probiotic for Constipation

Many of the above listed benefits of prebiotics stem from our top pick: Performance Lab Prebiotic.

Performance Lab Prebiotic delivers a more reliable and comfortable microbiome support compared to probiotics alone.

Though, it still includes probiotic support by stimulating the activity of key bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium, found in the gut. This benefits the digestive system, immune function, and nutritional status without the need to overload the gut with new strains.

This prebiotic supplement supplies an advanced upgrade on standard probiotics, feeding our gut’s existing bacterial colonies to promote healthy growth in harmony with your body.

Probiotics for Constipation: The Bottom Line

Constipation is a common ailment that many of us suffer with at some point in our lives. Constipation and other related issues can throw off the balance in our gut microbiome, which can often have a negative impact on other aspects of health.

Probiotics are often the go-to supplement for any gut-related issues. While they may help under certain circumstances, such as to ease IBS symptoms, or to replenish good bacteria after a course of antibiotics, they are known to have many downfalls.

Prebiotics appear to be the better choice of gut supplement when it comes to supporting a healthy digestive system, boosting immune function, and providing a relief from bowel struggles such as constipation.

Our top pick is Performance Lab Prebiotic, an effective and reliable alternative to probiotics alone, which nourishes existing bacteria and provides digestive comfort, thus promoting overall gut health.