How Probiotics Help With Constipation
How uncomfortable does being constipated feel? Not very fun, right?
You sit down on the toilet, squeezing and straining with all your might, but nothing seems to force the poop out. So then you switch up positions, propping one leg up and leaning to one side for some leverage in hopes that’ll do it…Still nothing.
Eventually, you give up, resigned to the fact that there’s nothing you can do, and just wait for constipation to pass.
And the thing is, there’s no telling when constipation will strike. It can creep up on you while you’re traveling. It can rear its ugly through digestive disorders like IBS. And as much as 38% of pregnant women suffer from constipation. The list goes on and on!
Rather than hang your head in shame and frustration, let’s take back control of your bowels. Probiotics for constipation is one strategy that may be able to help.
How Do Probiotics Help With Constipation?
Constipation wears many hats. Your poop might be hard, dry, or lumpy if you’re backed up. You may find it painful to even have a bowel movement. And when you do actually poop, it doesn’t feel like you got everything out. Constipation can also show itself through less frequent bowel movements than normal.
The fact of the matter is that constipation means your colon isn’t working properly. And that’s where probiotics for constipation come into play. They work to get your body back in working order, alleviate constipation symptoms, and ultimately, provide relief.
Probiotics are live microorganisms known as the “good guys” in your gut. Yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kombucha are great whole foods containing probiotics that help alleviate constipation. Probiotic supplements are also a convenient and effective option for enhancing the number of good bacteria in your gut.
When your gut contains a rich and diverse set of beneficial probiotic bacteria, it not only leads to benefits like better digestion and reduced constipation but it also:
- Boost energy levels: Poor gut health sends messages to your body that can dampen your mood, drain your energy levels, and make you feel fatigued.
- Improve immune system function: Your gut is home to about 70% of your entire immune system.
- Have a positive impact on your mental health: 90% of serotonin gets produced in the gut.
In terms of your bowels, there’s a ton of research out there demonstrating the power of probiotics for constipation. Probiotics can help by:
- Making your stools softer, which helps poop pass through easier.
- Increasing the frequency of your bowel movements.
- Enhancing bowel transit time (aka speeding up digestion).
- Providing fuller bowel movements so you don’t feel like there’s still more to get out.
- Reducing bloating and stomach discomfort.
Now that you know about what probiotics for constipation can do, let’s talk about how they provide relief:
- Improve bile salt metabolism, which encourages peristalsis. This is a process where the muscles in your intestines contract and relax to keep your stool moving through the colon.
- Create short-chain fatty acids that increase gut motility and lower pH levels in the colon, which promotes the feeling of having to use the bathroom.
- Prompts your colon to produce the necessary mucus to stimulate bowel movements.
What Type of Probiotic Is Best for Constipation?
Not all probiotic strains for constipation are created equal. Some are going to be better than others. But in general, the best probiotics for constipation come from Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains of bacteria.
Here’s a more complete list of ideal strains of probiotics for constipation:
How Do You Know You’re Constipated?
When you’re constipated, your poop may look a certain way. The Bristol Stool Chart below is a great visual:
In terms of using probiotics to help you poop, as we mentioned earlier, they work because they facilitate a healthy community of beneficial gut bacteria that means good things for your digestive system, and this is reflected through healthier-looking poop.
How Long Does It Take for Probiotics to Work?
The truth is, everyone is different. So, there unfortunately isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for when you might start to notice any changes. With that said, considering it may take some weeks for supplements to take effect (and that’s any supplement, not just probiotics), we recommend sticking with the probiotic supplement you choose for at least a month or two to give it time to do its thing in your system.
Can Probiotics Cause Constipation?
The chances are pretty slim. But if you experience constipation while taking probiotics, it may just indicate a lack of fiber in your diet and not drinking enough water, which are two easy fixes. You may also experience constipation in the first couple weeks as your body adjusts to the probiotics but this typically subsides.
At the end of the day though, the best way to prevent constipation is by being proactive:
- Take your probiotics daily
- Eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods
- Drink plenty of water
- Exercise regularly
Our Internal Probiotic Study
To provide a little insight into the potential benefits of probiotics, we conducted some internal research on our flagship Nella probiotic supplement.
Over the course of two weeks, participants filled out a weekly survey on the impact Nella probiotics had in their lives. The survey consisted of questions about sleep, digestion, energy, recovery, exercise, and overall wellness.
What we found is this: 94% of participants reported benefits in at least one of the categories mentioned above, with the biggest changes coming from—
- Sleep quality (45% reported better sleep)
- Recovery time (38.5% were able to recover faster after a strenuous workout)
- Fatigue frequency (38.3% experienced reduced fatigue)
- Soreness after workouts (38% saw reduced muscle soreness)
- Bowel movements (34.6% reported better and more frequent bowel movements.
What About Prebiotics? Are They Good for Constipation?
So far, the conversation has been on probiotics for constipation. But what about prebiotics? Do they have a role in constipation relief?
The short answer is: Yes, definitely! While probiotics get a lot of the spotlight when it comes to gut health and relieving constipation, prebiotics are super important too.
You can think of prebiotics as the fuel that helps probiotics spread, multiply, and work more efficiently at populating your gut with the beneficial bacteria that’s key to alleviating constipation. Fiber is the ultimate prebiotic for preventing constipation and improving digestive health, especially when our bowels get backed up.
Prebiotics tend to be soluble fiber (which soften your stool), while insoluble fiber bulks up your stool and can make constipation feel worse, especially if you don’t drink enough water or have other conditions.
Fill up on the following high-fiber foods and keep constipation at bay:
- Beans: lima, kidney, and black
- Brussels sprouts
- Dark chocolate (yum!)
Wrapping up Probiotics for Constipation
Constipation can be uncomfortable and send your bowels into a tailspin. But it most definitely doesn’t have to be a problem now that you’re familiar with how probiotics can help.
Here are some takeaways on preventing constipation:
- Eat whole foods that are rich in probiotics, such as yogurt (with live or active cultures), kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut to boost the number of good bacteria in your gut.
- Take a probiotic supplement and remember that the best probiotics for constipation come from Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains of bacteria.
- Add some prebiotics to your diet. Prebiotic fibers are essentially natural stool softeners for the body. Foods high in prebiotics include oats, lentils, Brussels sprouts, berries, and dark chocolate.
The path to less constipation awaits! Nella Probiotics are designed to not only benefit your gut but overall wellness—from improved digestion to more energy, better sleep, enhanced digestion, and much more. Our patented strains of Lactobacillus bacteria come vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and are Informed Sport certified.
But don’t just take our word for it! Check out some of the feedback we’ve received:
“Their probiotics are next-generation, cutting-edge technology that is made for everyone. Nella supports my overall gut health, and now I take it everywhere I go. It has been a lifesaver, especially when traveling!”
— Adeline Gray, Six-time World Champion Wrestler and Olympic Medalist
“After beginning with Nella, I noticed that my stomach issues were starting to dissipate. My sleep was improving, which led to better energy and practices in the pool. It proved to me that Nella is a great probiotic supplement that can benefit anyone, not just athletes.”
— Krysta Palmer, World / National Champion Swimmer & Diver, Olympic Medalist
“Nella is genuinely the best probiotic I've ever used... (and) has improved my overall gut health. I've been using Nella for over a year now and regardless of whether I'm riding 2 hours or 27 hours, my gut stays strong and consistent.”
— Amanda Coker, Pro Ultra-Endurance Cyclist & 11-time World Record Holder
About the Author: Chad Richardson is a blog copywriter from Cincinnati, OH. When he’s not cooking up content, Chad enjoys jumping rope in his backyard, putting his Chef Boyardee hat on and trying new recipes, and hanging out with friends while rooting on his hometown sports teams.