Probiotics are naturally occurring bacteria located in the gastrointestinal (G.I.) tract that are part of our human digestive system. Some can help your body’s functions and others can be a hindrance or even harmful.
An imbalance in your habitant family of bacteria may be the cause of many digestive problems, such as constipation. Many people with slow digestion should consider taking a probiotic supplement. I’ve rounded up a list of some of the best probiotics for constipation to help you make this choice.
If Probiotics Occur Naturally in My G.I. Tract, Why Do I Need Probiotic Supplements?
I wish I had learned about the importance of “good” and “bad” bacteria and probiotic supplementation when I was packing on the pounds in my early adulthood. My diet was typical of most modern Americans – rife with sugars and processed foods.
The amount of fiber I consumed was minimal, leading to often severe constipation. I ended up resorting to laxative tablets which, let me tell you, was not a comfortable experience! If I had known about probiotics I could have saved myself a lot of hassle.
Poor diet, antibiotics and other lifestyle factors can lead to an imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacterial strains in the digestive system. Just because bacteria are undoubtedly present doesn’t mean they are present in the correct numbers, proportions or variety. Some may be missing completely and in the worst cases, the “bad” may overrun the “good”. Enter probiotic supplements.
How Probiotics Supplements Work
Probiotics are capsules, powders or liquids containing an optimised combination of helpful bacterial strains. When you swallow the product, the bacteria are released and happily accept your G.I. tract as their new home.
Depending on the quality of the preparation, some of these little microorganisms may be killed before they get to that point – either by heat (keep them in the fridge) or your own stomach conditions. So you need to do your research before selecting a probiotic to make sure you get a product that will actually be active when you take it.
Healthcare professionals have suggested that nearly everyone could benefit from a probiotic supplement (source).
Relief from ConstipationConstipation can be due to many different factors. Fibre intake is the most important – make sure you’re consuming around 25 – 35g of fibre per day depending on your stool consistency. Those with I.B.S. (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) may have a harder time with constipation even with a high fibre diet so a probiotic is worth trying in those cases.
This video explains some more of the mechanism of constipation:
Everybody is different so until there is a test that can tell use exactly which microorganisms are missing from your system, there is some guesswork in taking supplements. No one has conclusively identified that single best microorganism to relieve constipation so you should choose a product with a good balance (source)
Personal Validation Testing
Because results can be so varied depending on personal factors, my product recommendations are only a starting point. I suggest creating a tracking chart to record your experience. When you select a probiotic supplement, keep note of things like:
- Start date
- Status description – Such as “constipated”, “bloated” etc.
- Starting weight – This is important; if you have constipation you may see weight loss as the product works.
- How many pills or tablets you take.
- Bowel Activity – Add details such as number of bowel movements, size, difficulty passing, gas presence etc.
- When you take the supplement such as before or after a meal.
- General health – Do you have a cold? Allergies? Headaches? Skin issues?
- Anything else you think may be helpful.
After a month or two, you may see categories that you can eliminate or may add others. Take a few minutes every so often to analyze the chart. What patterns do you see? Does the chart indicate that you are making progress? If not, you might want to continue your experiment with a different product.
The challenge of supplements is that they are neither scientifically tested nor standardized. This can be viewed as an opportunity to provide a variety of products to meet individual needs. In the case of probiotics for constipation relief, there is no shortage of products. However, my personal favourite is Phillips Colon Health Probiotic Capsules.
Phillips Colon Health Probiotic Capsules will help most people with constipation due to their magnesium content. The combination of three probiotic strains provides a good balance without being overwhelming. The results will be different for everyone so I recommend trying out multiple products and sticking with the one that works best for you personally.