What is the best probiotic for constipation?
Before we get to the products, let’s be sure on a few things first…
Ensure that you’re consuming 25+ grams of fiber a day
Most Americans are only eating half that amount. So, if you’re having pooping problems, let’s first check in with your plant-based food intake. If you need guidance on the amount of fiber in foods, comment below and I’d love to help you or check out the Google search bar for a high fiber food list.
If you’re thinking that you can’t eat 25 grams of fiber because it’ll cause gas/bloating, I encourage you to keep going. I have worked with a lot of guts and a lot of people and I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t tolerated more fiber with patience and (sometimes very slow) persistent progression.
There are a number of high fiber foods out there but some people find good results with bananas, apples, prunes, or prune juice to help maintain gut motility.
Consume adequate water
Not coffee or tea or energy drinks but water. You’ll hear various goals but for many of my patients, using the guideline: drink half your body weight in ounces can be helpful. Example: if you’re 150 pounds / 2 = 75 ounces = 9 cups of water per day. If you’re not even drinking 5, start slowly and only increase assuming you don’t have fluid imbalance issues.
Get regular movement
A body in motion stays in motion. This phrase relates to physical ailments but also our gut motility. Physical movement speeds up your heart rate which helps peristalsis (natural squeezing and contracting of the intestines). This helps to decrease the amount of time food spends in your intestine thus decreasing likelihood of constipation.
Check in with stress
Stress and sleep impact the gut more than you realize and if you’re stressed, you may literally be holding on to that “sh*t” in more way than one. Not sure how to manage stress? Seek help, create stress relief triggers, try (and continue with) yoga or breathing exercises. Fiber, fluid, and movement are the primary imbalances I see that result in constipation but stress can be a large factor for a number of people.
Probiotic containing foods
Sometimes if we’re feeling a little constipated, consuming probiotic containing foods can be helpful.
Some probiotic foods to consider:
- Tempeh (fermented soy beans)
- Fresh sauerkraut (not pasteurized or canned/heated)
- Fresh pickles (not pasteurized or canned/heated)
- Miso paste/miso soup
When it comes to yogurt, Dannon Activia (strain B. (animalis) lactis CNCM I-2494) (1) and Yakult (strain L. casei Shirota) (2 and 3) have been shown in the literature to help with constipation relief. So, if you consume and tolerate dairy but experience constipation, you may want to consider starting with adding Activia or Yakult into your day.
If you do not consume dairy, know that plant-based yogurts have not been included in research studies with constipation but they still may have benefit for you in yielding regular bowel movements.
Probiotic Supplements for Constipation
If you’ve tried the above tactics and you’re still experiencing constipation, you may benefit from a probiotic.
In the literature, Visbiome and Visbiome Extra Strength have been shown to help with constipation (4). Of note, VSL#3 is now repackaged as Visbiome.
Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast strain used as a probiotic that also has a growing amount of research to support it’s aid in constipation relief (5). This beneficial yeast can be found on it’s own in a product like Florastor or in a combination product like DrFormulas Nexabiotic Advanced Multi-Probiotic.
If you’re still not sure how to best manage your constipation or you have additional question, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I know it can be uncomfortable to talk about sometimes but I also know that feeling comfortable is possible. I work with poo problems all day long and I’d truly love to help you feel your best.
- Yang, Y.X., M. He, G. Hu, J. Wei, P. Pages, X.H. Yang, and S. Bourdu-Naturel. “Effect of a fermented milk containing Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173010 on Chinese constipated women.” World J Gastroenterol 14.40 (2008): 6237-6243.
- Koebnick, C., Wagner, I., Leitzmann, P., Stern, U., and Zunft, H. (2003). Probiotic beverage containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with chronic constipation. Can J Gastroenterol 17, 655-659.
- Tilley, L., Keppens, K., Kushiro, A., Takada, T., Sakai, T., Vaneechoutte, M., and Degeest, B. (2014). A probiotic fermented milk drink containing Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota improves stool consistency of subjects with hard stools. International Journal Of Probiotics And Prebiotics 9, 23-30.
- Parkes, G. C., D. Chatoor, and A. Emmanuel. “The probiotic VSL# 3 increases scbm and reduces symptom severity scores in patients with functional constipation.” Gut 60.Suppl 1 (2011): A163-A163
- McFarland, L. World J Gastroenterol. 2010 May 14; 16(18): 2202–2222.