Prebiotics Probiotics & Poop: 3 Questions Every Person Should Ask Themselves
The road to health is paved with good intestines.
Gut health is trendy right now. Microbiome this, microbiome that. Seems like everybody and their mother has completed a comprehensive stool analysis . More power to you, poop is important stuff.
But, before we delve deeper into the topic, its important that we get one thing straight – the typical American lifestyle is NOT conducive to fitness or health. Stress, excessive antibiotic usage, toxic environmental exposure, and the western diet all play a role in general gut dysbiosis.1
Dysbiosis: refers to a condition of microbial imbalance within the gut or the skin. It may also occur on any exposed surface or mucous membrane
We are what we eat is one of the most misconstrued sayings in the world of nutrition and fitness.
Sure, the foods we consume directly impact our gut health, individual metabolic response, and physiological performance. But, in reality, these foods must go through a variety of complicated stages before we are able to metabolize them for energy:
You dont just magically create ATP as you sip on a Coke or smash a soft pretzel. The digestive tract takes time to process food and there are a number of areas where issues can arise.
Can Probiotics Help Or Hurt
Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms like bacteria and yeast. Human bodies are full of bacteria, both good and bad, and consuming probiotics can improve the good bacteria in your body, states the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health .
According to NCCIH, data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey show that about 4 million U.S. adults had used probiotics or prebiotics in the past 30 days. Yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and other fermented foods are popular sources of these microorganisms, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A lot of probiotics are also sold as dietary supplements. Dietary supplements don’t require approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before they are marketed, warns the NCCIH, so always be careful about what you put into your body.
Many people wonder if the beneficial bacteria in probiotics cause constipation. “Generally, probiotics do not cause constipation,” says Dr. Winberry. “There’s research looking at probiotics to treat constipation actually.”
In an October 2014 analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers reviewed 14 studies on probiotics and found that probiotics increased stool frequency by 1.3 bowel movements a week and also softened stools, making them easier to pass.
Culturelle Digestive Daily Probiotic
Image courtesy Culturelle
Culturelle’s Digestive Probiotic is a daily supplement that contains 3 highly active probiotics to improve digestion and reduce gas, bloating, cramping, and abdominal pain caused by IBS.
Culturelle is a well-researched brand that has been clinically improved to help with bloating, gas, and IBS symptoms.
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Do Probiotics Make You Poop
Although probiotics are not laxatives, they may help you to poop more regularly if you have constipation or irritable bowel syndrome .
Probiotics are generally considered safe, but your body might experience some temporary side effects while it gets used to the new bacteria, including bloating and flatulence. These are usually mild and go away after a few days once your body adjusts.
Unpublished ZOE research, which is the largest study of the gut microbiome and nutrition in the world, has found links between probiotics and how often a person poops.
Our study participants who consumed more probiotics whether in the form of fermented dairy, other fermented foods, or pills had a higher number of bowel movements than participants who didnt consume these.
The chances of pooping most days were increased by around 10% if people consumed one of these types of probiotics and by around 15% if they consumed all three of these types of probiotics.
Stonehenge Health Dynamic Biotics
Image courtesy Stonehenge
Stonehenge’s Dynamic Probiotics contains all natural ingredients including prebiotics, vitamins, and minerals. It improves digestion to reduce bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation.
Dynamic Biotics also reduces IBS symptoms like excess gas and abdominal discomfort.
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You Have Inflammatory Bowel Disease Or Celiac Disease
Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis, two forms of inflammatory bowel disease , cause inflammation in your gastrointestinal tractthe same goes for celiac disease . This inflammation, then, can cause diarrhea, which can make your poop look green due to a faster transit again .
If you have IBD or celiac, itâs important to maintain a close relationship with your doctor to help keep inflammationand as a result, symptomsunder control, says Rice.
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Best Probiotics For Constipation
When choosing a probiotic for constipation its important that it contains clinically researched strains that help alleviate the condition.
When I say help, I mean they should at least
- Increase the frequency of bowel movements
- Shorten the transit times
Without doubt the two most effective probiotic species are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.
However, its the strain that makes the difference and not all strains are created equal.
Certain strains are better at dealing with the symptoms of chronic constipation than others..
And the best probiotic supplements for constipation should contain at least one of these strains.
Below is a list of clinically researched bacterial strains that are shown to have a beneficial effect on constipation.
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What Is The Best Time To Take Probiotics
While it doesn’t necessarily matter what time of day you take a probiotic, it’s probably a good idea to give yourself some time to adjust before going to bed.
Taking a probiotic supplement just before bed is not advised because your body needs some time to rest and recover from the day. This will allow the beneficial bacteria in your supplement to have enough time to reach a high presence in your gut without being slowed down by other body processes.
What Are Prebiotics And What Do They Do
On the other hand, Prebiotics are various foods in your diet that can stimulate the growth and balance of healthy bacteria in the colon. For example, the beneficial bacteria: bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Prebiotic fibers are non-digestible and are fermented in the colon into short-chain fatty acids, which provide energy for the cells lining the wall of the gut. This is potentially protective against colon cancer and other diseases. Other potential health benefits of prebiotics include:
- Increased absorption of minerals such as calcium
- Reduction of potentially pathogenic bacteria
- Weight loss/maintenance due to increased fullness
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The Role Of Bacteria In The Digestion Process
If you didnt know, our body is host to trillions of bacteria, both good and bad. Collectively, they are what we call ourmicrobiome.
These clusters of bacteria are found in different parts of our body like the mouth, nose, and skin. But the largest of these bacterial populations resides in our guts.
Our gut bacteria play a vital role in our digestive function. Aside from helping digest the foods we eat, it also enables us to absorb nutrients from the foods we eat.
When the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut microbiome is disturbed, it can cause dysbiosis. The bad bacteria can take over and choke out the good ones. This, in turn, disrupts our bodys normal digestive function.
With no beneficial bacteria to digest our food or help absorb their nutrients, our digestive system cannot function properly. This leads to health issues like diarrhea, constipation, and chronic digestive disorders.
What Are Probiotics For Dogs
Probiotics are different types of live microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast that occur naturally in both your and your dogs body and in the environment.
Typically, we think of bacteria as a bad thing. But hear us out.
The human body has about 37.2 trillion cells. According to a recent study, the amount of human and bacterial cells in your body are about the same. This means right now you have trillions of bacteria cells inside your body.
Probiotics are considered to be good bacteria because they can benefit the body.
Probiotic supplements are a way of modifying the composition of microorganisms in the intestine .
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Are There Any Storage Instructions For Probiotics
Several probiotic strains are very fragile and need to be protected from heat, oxygen, light and humidity. The probiotics might start to break down or die if they are exposed to these elements. Because of this, you may need to refrigerate your probiotics or store it in a particular place. Refrigerating certain probiotic strains ensures that theyre still viable when you go to use them and will still provide the full benefit of the probiotic. Always read the labels on any probiotic product you purchase to make sure you store it correctly and use it within the expiration date.
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Possible Side Effects Of Probiotics
Probiotics are living bacteria and yeasts that provide health benefits when consumed in large amounts.
They can be taken as supplements or consumed naturally through fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha .
The health benefits of probiotic supplements and foods have been well documented, including a lower risk of infections, improved digestion and even a reduced risk for some chronic diseases .
While there are many health benefits linked to taking probiotics, there can also be side effects. Most of these are minor and only affect a small percentage of the population.
However, some people with serious illnesses or compromised immune systems may experience more severe complications.
This article reviews the most common side effects of probiotics and how to reduce them.
What About Supplementation
Probiotics are being added to nearly everything these days bars, shakes, pills, powders, and anything in between. Make no mistake, they can be very beneficial as research supports their use for repopulating the microbiome.
But, while probiotics serve a role, most forget that these organisms require food in the form of prebiotics. Prebiotics are essentially non-digestible carbohydrates that your gut bacteria chew up to promote proliferation of beneficial bacteria, lessening the chance for dysbiosis and improving the production of short chain fatty acids .4
PRO TIP: A recent study showed that cooking and cooling grains, legumes, and tubers significantly increased the concentration of fiber resistant starch .3
If fact, some research shows that pre- and probiotic supplementation may enhance your immune system’s response to the flu vaccine:
The molecular mechanisms of how probiotics can enhance the immune reaction are still being sussed out, but evidence is currently pointing to metabolites, such as short-chain fatty acids, that are produced by probiotic species and can directly affect aspects of the immune response, as well as the immune systems direct response to parts of probiotic bacteria like their cell wall and DNA fragments.
Since prebiotics are the food which lead beneficial bacteria to produce metabolites like short-chain fatty acids, some of the mechanisms by which they work may be similar. Examine.com2
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Can Probiotics Hurt Me
For most healthy people, probiotics dont cause any harm. They are generally considered safe and are often given a try to see if they could help with various medical conditions. Theres a lot of research around the topic of probiotics. Scientists are trying to determine when and how they should be used, as well as how effective they are. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting a probiotic supplement because there are some cases where you shouldnt be taking them. Its always best to have the conversation first before starting a new supplement.
Can You Only Have Bloating And Diarrhea In Your Body If You Take Antibiotics
Most people think they can only have diarrhea when they take antibiotics. Its common thinking that antibiotics are the only way to treat this condition.
The truth is that when you use probiotics to treat these conditions, they will make you poop a lot more frequently. This article will let you know if you need to take antibiotics to treat your conditions.
Probiotics are bacteria that live in the GI tract. They help to regulate the proper function of bowel movements.
They also play an important role in digestion. If you have digestive issues, it is important that you get the proper amount of bacteria in your body.
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Youre Eating A Ton Of Green Veggies
The food you eat may also cause your food, of the natural or artificial variety, may also cause your poop to turn green, Emily Haller, RDN, a registered dietician at Michigan MedicineÃ¢s Taubman GI Clinic, tells Health. Ã¢Green vegetables and fruits contain chlorophyll, which is the pigment that gives plants and algae their green color,Ã¢ she says. Ã¢Generally, a small serving of green vegetables wonÃ¢t change stool color, but larger servings of green vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, bok choy, green peppers, etc. could contribute to green stool.Ã¢
Haller says itÃ¢s Ã¢completely normal and healthyÃ¢ to have green poop as the result of eating your veggiesso definitely keep doing it. Ã¢Not only are these vegetables tasty, but they are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber,Ã¢ she says.
How Probiotics Might Be Bad For You
Because these good bacteria already exist in the body, theyâre considered safe for most people. But there are some things to consider.
They can trigger an allergic reaction. They might cause mild stomach problems, especially the first few days you start taking them. You might have stomach upset, gas, diarrhea, or bloating. Those symptoms usually go away after your body gets used to them.
If you have an immune system problem or another serious health condition, you may have a greater chance of issues. Some reports have linked probiotics to serious infections and other side effects. The people most likely to have trouble are those with immune system problems, people whove had surgery, and others who are critically ill. Dont take probiotics if you have any of those issues.
Always talk to your pediatrician before giving probiotic supplements to your child. If youre pregnant or nursing, you should also talk to your doctor before you try one.
Most probiotics in the U.S. are sold as dietary supplements. That means the companies that make them dont have to test their products and show that they work or that they are safe. More research is needed to confirm that probiotics are safe and effective.
Ask your doctor which probiotics are the right ones for you. Be sure to stop taking them if you have any problems.
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How To Select And Use Probiotics
Picking the right probiotic is key to treating constipation, as certain strains may not be as effective as others.
Look for supplements that contain the following strains of bacteria, which have been shown to improve stool consistency (
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Bifidobacterium longum
Although there is no specific recommended dosage for probiotics, most supplements pack 110 billion colony-forming units per serving .
For best results, use them only as directed and consider decreasing your dosage if you experience persistent side effects.
Given that supplements may take several weeks to work, stick to one specific type for 34 weeks to evaluate its effectiveness before switching.
Alternatively, try including a variety of probiotic foods in your diet.
Fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, kefir, natto, tempeh, and sauerkraut are all rich in beneficial bacteria, as well as plenty of other important nutrients.
Certain strains of probiotics may be more effective than others at treating constipation. Aside from taking supplements, you can eat fermented foods to increase your probiotic intake.
Not All Probiotics Are Equal
If youre planning to take a probiotic supplement to manage constipation, its important to remember that all probiotic bacteria do not have the same effects. For instance, if Bifidobacterium lactis is able to increase the frequency of bowel movements, its not necessary that other probiotic bacteria would have a similar effect. So check the strain of probiotic bacteria that youre consuming to make sure that itll be beneficial in your case. And as always, when in doubt, speak to your doctor. It is also a good idea to increase your intake of probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut which boost your digestive health and the number of good bacteria in your stomach.
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What Do Prebiotics Do
Prebiotics are a little different from probiotics, as prebiotics are used to feed your good bacteria that is already in your body.
The benefits of prebiotics are a strengthened digestive system and intestinal lining, decreased inflammation, and more efficient removal of toxins from the digestive tract.
Just like probiotics, prebiotics are used to balance your gut bacteria, and improve the microbiome.