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How Probiotics can Help Prevent Constipation

Are you constipated? I know it's a personal question and don't worry, this stays between the two of us, so a simplenod of your head will do; yes or no. If t
Feb 23, 2016 | Joy McCarthy

Are you constipated? I know it's a personal question and don't worry, this stays between the two of us, so a simple nod of your head will do; yes or no. If the contact form or comments section is any indication, you're definitely not alone. I receive more questions on what to do when you're constipated than any other question.

Americans spend nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars each year trying to unblock themselves.


There are so many reasons people get constipated. Stress, diet, food allergies, dehydration, medications, a lack of movement and pregnancy can all contribute to a bowel backup; and that's just the short list. The good news is that there are definitely things you can do to help get things moving that don't include laxatives or other prescriptions (which can do more harm that help).


In addition to the many natural remedies I talk about here, it's becoming more and more clear the important role healthy gut bacteria plays in our overall health, including digestion. Depending on the health of your gut bacteria, it may be best for you to completely heal your gut, but regardless where you find yourself on the healthy gut spectrum, probiotics are never a bad place to start.


Probiotics are the good bugs that help to break down foods after we've ingested them, but they do a LOT more, such as:

  • They break down tough plant fibers which act as prebiotics. So if you want a thriving gut flora, it is essential to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to feed the bacteria. Eat plenty of leafy greens, sweet potatoes, squash, apples, pears and berries.
  • They may alter the way we store fat. Research has shown that obese mice populated with probiotics from lean mice became lean. Furthermore, obese people have much fewer species and variety of bacteria than lean people.
  • Alter the way we balance levels of glucose in the blood.
  • Alter how we respond to hormones that make us feel hungry or full. Gut bacteria influences messaging to the brain to signal that you are full.
  • They help make vitamins such as vitamin K, biotin, folate and B12.
  • Keep our immune system strong. In fact, 84% of our immune system resides in our gut wall. Good bacteria prevents pathogens from sticking to the wall of the gut because they impact the epithelial lining of the gut. They have a powerful influence on whether you get bitten by the flu bug!
  • Help break down toxins and waste products to be eliminated when you have a bowel movement.
  • Help with depression two ways: by reducing inflammatory cytokines and producing neurotransmitters in the gut.
  • Prevent candida albicans from taking over. Good bacteria keep the yeast and fungus levels in check.
  • Reduce bloating and gas.

Now those are just some of their roles, (there's more!) but needless to say, they're important little buggers :)

In fact, it's not only nutritionists like myself touting the benefits of probiotics, science agrees too! Researchers at King's College in London reviewed 14 studies about probiotics and found that:

  • probiotics increased “gut transit time” by 12.4 hours (meaning, more time to digest and breakdown the food)
  • increased the number of weekly bowel movements by 1.3
  • helped soften stools, making them easier to pass
  • Probiotics that contained Bifidobacterium appeared to be the most effective

Not only do probiotics help reduce constipation but they also help prevent diarrhea too.

In simple terms, probiotics are helpful little buggers because they aid in the break down of waste products. This means they get the poop moving through your gut and out the back door.

It is super important (perhaps even more important than taking probiotics) to FEED the good bacteria. Fermented foods are a food source for bacteria. I recommend you eat something fermented every single day. Check back in a couple of weeks for my chocolate protein brownies made with fermented protein powder. Or try these Sweet Potato Protein Muffins today.

I know you are probably wondering what probiotics I recommend and take. There are many excellent brands on the market today, in fact I even give probiotics to baby Vienna! However, a brand that I have taken for years has recently released a multi-strain probiotic. I recommend you do your research to find a brand that is best for you. Talk to your Naturopath or Certified Nutritionist for advice.

When you start taking probiotics you may notice you feel bloated or gassy, this is very normal when you introduce new bacteria.


Learn more about how good bacteria affects your health.
Check out my online seminar:


maria   •   February 24, 2016

Thank you Joy!! Great article.. But I'm curious as to the effects and preventative and cures for diarrehea..even though I'm taking probictics.

S   •   February 24, 2016

Victoria   •   February 24, 2016

Hi ! Love the post ! I just spent six weeks doing AIP to heal my gut to come down with a bad cold and ear infection, leading me to needing to take antibiotics :( what can I do to protect my gut while taking medications? Will an extra dose help ?

Joy McCarthy   •   February 28, 2016

Sandi Piper   •   February 25, 2016

I take probiotics every day except while on vacation. By the end of the week I feel like things are backing up and being stored. I can't wait to get home to start my probiotics to have things run smoothly again. "Touch wood" I don't seem to get the cold and flu bugs that my friends and colleagues do.

Joy McCarthy   •   February 28, 2016

Tracy   •   February 26, 2016

Thanks for a great post Joy. And a healthy reminder to increase ng family's probiotic intake. I've given my little guy probiotics since he was a baby and it helps his eczema too. I've recently started eating sauerkraut and dream of the day my little man will eat it too! Your healthy brain seminar looks interesting too - will sign up. Thanks again.

Joy McCarthy   •   February 28, 2016

Jessica   •   February 29, 2016

Hi Joy, Do you have a recommendation for a good pro-biotic? I'm a little nervous as last time I took them I broke out (it could have been from something else though). One without dairy preferably. Thanks!


  •   March 11, 2016

Splendid article! We really need to take care of our bodies and minds!


Karen   •   July 23, 2016

Should probiotics be taken with food, before or after eating? Or away from food? Thanks!

Heather Allen   •   July 25, 2016

Monika   •   September 8, 2016

Very informative article Joy! I have been taking the exact same probiotic that you recommend for a while now and was wondering if I could also give it to my 14 month old babe and how much would you recommend? Thanks

Heather Allen   •   September 9, 2016

Pooja   •   October 23, 2016

Hi Joy :) are probiotics safe to take during pregnancy? Thankss

Heather Allen   •   October 24, 2016

Kiren   •   November 20, 2017

Hi Joy, I'm taking the Progressive HCP probiotic and have been for awhile; I never realized that it states that it may contain milk and soy - should I stop taking this one due to sensitivities to milk and soy??

Rachel Molenda   •   November 22, 2017

Lisa J Fletcher   •   February 24, 2018

Bacteria in your gut might sound like a bad thing, but your gut actually uses bacteria to process food into energy. We call these helpful bacteria probiotics. bowtrol probiotic helps in digestive health.


Lea   •   April 14, 2018

Hi Joy, Wondering if the child probiotic you give your daughter is vegan and peanut free? We have dairy/egg/peanut allergies and I can’t seem to find a decent probiotic for kids. I wish genuine health made a kids version!

Rachel Molenda   •   April 16, 2018

qiaraau   •   May 16, 2018

Thanks for this article .It is really interesting. Probiotics can help also to reduce toxins to our body and boost our immune system.

Rachel Molenda   •   May 17, 2018

doris   •   July 19, 2018

I am not constipated but I am intoralant to many food does probiotics help? Thanks Doris

Rachel Molenda   •   July 19, 2018

Diane E.   •   January 1, 2019

What amount of probiotics would I use if just starting out with them, and what is the best brand.

Joy McCarthy   •   January 2, 2019

Connie Leung   •   February 13, 2019

One question I always get asked is how much should I take for regular consumption? Is 15 billion enough? Or 30 or 50 billion? Thank you!!

Joy McCarthy   •   February 13, 2019

Angela   •   January 23, 2020

I have taken flora 50 billion probiotics for years andI still have trouble with bowel movements.

Joy McCarthy   •   January 24, 2020

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