There are few feelings less fun than being bloated and puffy for no apparent reason. Are you battling to get things moving with ease downstairs? Are you at the risk of bursting a blood vessel as you strain on that toilet seat?
If that’s the case, you might just be having constipation. Thankfully, there are quite a few things you can do to combat it, from over-the-counter medications, to ‘home remedies’ in your homes cupboards.
One relief option you might not be aware of is probiotics. And this would really be a shame, especially as probiotics have proven to being a long term solution for constipation. As a matter of fact, the matter of ‘good’ bacteria is a generally overlooked when talking about diets and our overall health. So read on and discover how to improve your gut health by taking care of the real problem (your flora).
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are bacteria that are found naturally within the gut or gastrointestinal tract. There are about 100 trillion bacteria in the digestive system and they perform a lot of important tasks in the body. These bacteria are much like what flowers are to honey bees; we, humans cannot survive without our micro-biome.
In case you are wondering what exactly these bacteria do– first, probiotics are capable of neutralizing and destroying the bad bacteria that are responsible for infection and diseases. In fact, it makes up about 80% of our immune system. Probiotics also encourage the production of enzymes to break down our foods, manufacture essential nutrients and neurochemicals that can improve our moods and general health.
So how do probiotics aleviate constipation?
It’s simple: The same way having the right bacteria in your gut can help in the production of enzymes to help with metabolism, bacteria found in the intestines and colon can help in breaking down stool into more reasonable chunks that will pass through with ease. Probiotics can also help to fight dehydration, which can draw out moisture from the stool and make it harder to pass.
The truth is that when the bad bacteria are more than the good bacteria, it can cause a range of bowel problems, especially gas! Also note that when probiotics are used in the digestive tract to break down food, this actually helps to make things more tolerable right from the beginning.
You Might Need More Probiotics
Are you wondering at this point why you would need extra probiotics when we already said that probiotics occur naturally? Okay, let’s break it down.
Everyone now realizes how our modern diets do not particularly give us the needed nutritional balance. So many people are often dehydrated but still take large amounts of sugar. The sugar feeds the bad bacteria and thereby leading to several negative results.
One other reason to take more probiotics is that some medications, especially antibiotics, can actually destroy the balance of gut flora. Antibiotics actually work by killing off virtually all bacteria. Since we swallow most antibiotics, the first place they go to act is in the stomach. Right there, they destroy both the bad and good bacteria. Once these bacteria are eliminated, there would be nothing to help break down the food we eat and nothing to help with the production of nutrients or with bowel movements. When this happens, it can result in a lot of discomfort and a range of medical problems.
Probiotic Supplements for Constipation
Of course, we’ve established that probiotics supplements are effective for treating constipation. They usually come in powder or capsule form and are often made up of liquids that contain adequate combination of different strains of good bacteria. When you consume probiotic supplements, these good bacteria can be released into the gut where they can get to work and stave off constipation.
It is however important to know that some of the supplement can be killed on their way into your stomach in the process of swallowing or by heat. To prevent this, always ensure that your supplements are kept in the fridge. Also, make sure you look around for the best probiotic supplements with the most positive reviews.
Alternatively, you can also get your probiotics from some foods that have been made to develop natural, but healthy ‘cultures’ of bacteria. For instance, yogurt products, especially those fortified with additional good bacteria, are good for the gut. However, know that yogurt doesn’t exactly contain the highest concentration of bacteria, and some people may suffer some minor digestive issues after consuming it.
Other Treatments Options for Constipation
To get optimal benefits from probiotics for constipation, it’s best to also combine them with the use of other remedies and positive lifestyle habits. Drinking lots of water is the most essential thing to do, particularly as most often, constipation is as a result of dehydration. Additionally, consider increasing your fiber intake as doing this will aid gas by stimulating gastric secretions and encourage bowel movements. For example, eating prunes is a very good way to acquire more soluble and insoluble fiber which your body really needs.
Also, you can improve easy bowel movements by drinking caffeine. Oh yes, caffeine! Caffeine is actually a natural laxative and by consuming a few cups of coffee, things might start to move more easily downstairs. However, be sure to add some more water, as caffeine can leave you dehydrated because it is also diuretic.
Finally, strive to be relaxed and to take some time out because stress can lead to the contraction of muscles, even those in the intestines. Also, take warm baths and some valerian root. The warmth and water can help to relax muscle tissues and might help in stimulating some bowel movements.
Now, if none of these works, then it’s definitely time to see your doctor to rule out other underlying causes.
The Bottom Line
Consuming fast foods, processed foods and those high in sugar are consequences of our modern fast-paced busy lives. If you’re unable to count the ingredients used in making a food product on one hand, then you probably shouldn’t consume it. Most times, some or all of the soluble/fermentable fiber in processed foods are removed to extend their shelf life. Have you considered what effect this might have on the natural balance on your gut? Well, bad eating habits can lead to an imbalance in the habitat of probiotics. When this happens, you may need to start considering a daily intake of probiotic supplements for constipation and to maintain a better gut health.
Luckily, probiotics do not seem to have any side effects and are generally considered safe. However, remember that unlike conventional medications, dietary supplements, including probiotics aren’t tested by the FDA. You may want to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or a registered dietitian who knows a lot about probiotics. Keep in mind that if you’re feeling really uncomfortable, you should probably just head straight to your doctor’s office. It is advisable to make your doctor aware that you are taking probiotics for constipation.