There is enough practical and scientific evidence to show that Probiotics can help you poop better because they restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which in turn helps you improve your digestion and deal with problems like constipation and IBS. Nevertheless, it is important to note that probiotics do not function like laxatives by stimulating your bowels, but they instead improve your overall digestive and nutrient absorption functions to ensure that your pooping is ideal and consistent.
Let us not get right into the probiotic element of this topic and first deal with the stinky part… Let us all agree that pooping is such a general term, but for the purposes of this post we are looking at what falls right in the middle of shi*@ing rocks and diarrheaing like an upside-down fountain.
What Is Good Poop?
Believe it or not, several books have been written about poop…because, you know… pooping is life. My favorite in that list, “How To Poo on a Date” …because even though we have come so far as humankind, pooing on a date is a still uncharted territory. Anyway, we eat, we poop, and then repeat that cycle for the rest of our lives.
Now, let us start by looking into what qualifies as healthy poop. In case you have ignored this all-important body function, I suggest you check this Bullet Proof Poop Chart that tells you what is happening with your pooping.
According to gastroenterology experts, the most ideal poop has a smooth texture and it is shaped like a soft sausage, log, or snake, and it has a uniform brown color. The exact color of healthy poop might vary depending on what you ate but the texture should be smooth and it should be a few inches long and not be broken into pellets. Furthermore, ideal poop should be easy to pass, taking only a few minutes to fully evacuate from the bowels. Healthy pooping is noted as being between one or two bowel movements a day, to not less than four movements a week. You should also feel fully relieved after a bowel movement.
So if you have that, you are free to excuse yourself from this lesson…or you can just stay for the giggles. Yes. Poop is always funny.
But here is a useful resource on the subject Why Do Probiotics Make Me Gassy and Bloated?
Probiotics and Pooping
Several scientific studies 1, 2, 3, 4 have studied the use of probiotics in treating diarrhea that is mostly caused by viral infections, or from overuse of antibiotics and other medications. This means that having healthy gut bacteria can help with loose stool. On the other hand, more than half of the people who have pooping issues are suffering from constipation.
The reason I became a Probiotic lab rat is because the current research on probiotics does little to no justice to the person looking for straight answers. It seems like for every scientific finding on probiotics, there is a counter-finding. Sample this… One Study sought to test if probiotics were effective against constipation whereby the results revealed that experienced a 70% improvement in stool frequency and a 60% improvement in stool consistency.
On the other side of the this bridge, another study that sought to test the effectiveness of probiotics against constipation found that nothing happened after four weeks of trials, and there were “no improvement in stool output, symptoms, or the overall quality of life”.
Mind you these two are “scientific studies”. This means that scientifically, using probiotics to treat constipation is considered “investigational” or “experimental” because the past studies have not been conclusive on the matter.
Nevertheless, an article appearing on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition consisted of literature review on research studies on pooping and probiotics. The overall findings of this research Study found that taking probiotic-rich foods slowed poop’s gut-transit time by 12.4 hours, increased the number of weekly bowel movements by a factor of 1.3. The results of this research also showed that probiotics helped soften stools, making them easier to pass. Another important conclusion was that probiotics that consisted of Bifidobacterium strain of probiotics had the best outcome when it came to improving pooping.
I have always repeated that research on probiotics tends to be wildly contradictory. This is because researchers often study different strains of probiotics. Furthermore, some researchers might neglect to validate other important factors such as the virility and potency of the studied probiotic strains or even confirm the manufacturers’ claims about CFU count.
I suspect that this post would be a lot shorter if the title was “Does Yoghurt Make You Poop?”. Why? Because most people already consider yoghurt to be quite reliable when it comes to keeping the poop train on schedule. Guess, what? The key ingredients in yoghurt are live cultures or probiotics that can indeed ease your digestive problems and make your pooping more regular.
So by association, it is most plausible that probiotics will help you poop. Probiotics are helpful bacteria and when they colonize your gut, they come with several health advantages including potentially helping you poop better.
However, it is not that simple because getting to the perfect poop through the probiotic route takes a certain process.
For this article, we will countdown backwards from FIVE to see how probiotics get you from point A to point “smooth, like a soft sausage or snake” a.k.a., the perfect poop.
FIVE: What Do Probiotics Do to Your Pooping Process?
Probiotics enhance the balance of your gut microbiome and increase the amount of good bacteria in the digestive system. The result is that your entire process of digestion up to and including excretion is significantly improved.
Notably, your gut accommodates more than 100 million microorganisms, some good and other bad. Your digestion is greatly influenced by the overall composition of bacteria, yeast, and fungi in your digestive system. For instance, having too much yeast in your GI tract might be the reason that you feel bloated most of the time.
With the right microbiome balance in your stomach and digestive system, your body will digest food and absorb nutrients better. The right balance also leads to better activation of digestive enzymes. Furthermore, probiotics help reduce gut inflammation and this improves both digestion and nutrient absorption. Probiotics also lower the pH levels in the colon and this might make poop go through your colon faster.
Finally, having a good microbiome balance has been known to lead to improved digestion of lactose and carbohydrates.
FOUR: Which Probiotics Make You Poop Easier?
One thing you might be already aware of is that probiotics is an umbrella term for bacteria. Our intestines contain between 400 and 600 strains of possible bacterial strains, all of which are tasked with performing specific functions. The composition of the gut microbiome also means that lacking specific strains will cause quite specific problems. For instance, there is a strain that aids in your mood and another for your digestion etc.
So, the question is which probiotic strain is responsible for making you poop easier. According to research dating as far back as 1996 (1), (2), (3), bifidobacterium is the strain that has the best impact on digestion, and hence easy pooping.
As you get deeper into this probiotic research like I have, you will notice that there is a lot of commercialization going on. Therefore, manufacturers tend to promote the probiotic strains that are easy for them to make. The easy-to-make probiotics also translate to higher profit margins for the companies. My prediction is that in the next ten years, we will see probiotics become more strain-oriented. Therefore, companies will dedicate more resources to the harder-to-make probiotic strains, as long as they are beneficial to consumers.
From the wide variety of research studies that I sampled, any of these strains will benefit your perfect pooping endeavors; Bifidobacterium lactis, lactobacillus plantarum, streptococcus thermophilus, lactobacillus reuteri, and bifidobacterium longum.
THREE: What About Probiotics and Diarrhea?
The distance between you and perfect poop might be that persistent diarrhea that keeps ruining your best of days. Even when disagreements about the effectiveness of probiotics as supplements were at their peak, there was still a general agreement about their effectiveness in treating diarrhea. This is because most instances of diarrhea are caused by the presence of foreign pathogens in the body. Probiotics work to your advantage by trying to dump a load of good bacteria on your gut in an attempt to drive out the bad ones that might have taken over.
Therefore, the case of eliminating diarrhea using probiotics is easier to make because when you maintain a good count of the beneficial bacteria in your gut. You are less likely to experience loose stool incidences when there is a good gut microbiome balance to easily keep interruptions of bad bacteria at a minimum.
I know you have eaten the same meal with a person at a restaurant only for only one of you to experience a case of violent food poisoning. Three days of no-work with violent diarrhea for one person, and mild three-hour stomach discomfort for the other…. that my friends is the magic of a well-balanced gut microbiome. I grew up listening to one of my uncles bragging about having a stomach of steel. That man would eat stale food and report no incidences. Now, I know about probiotics, I know the trick.
TWO: The Connection Between IBS, Pooping, and Probiotics
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the worst and peace-denying conditions to have. You will be in a party having the fun of your life, but when they bring out the food, everyone else will be excited, but you will most-likely have PSTD flashbacks of when you enjoyed random food servings.
Before going very far, think about this; Probiotics and Constipation…The Complete Analysis
IBS is characterized by bloating, stomach pains, and diarrhea or constipation…all these can be attributed to an imbalance of gut microbiome. In a research study seeking to examine the effectiveness of probiotic supplements in the treatment of IBS, positive results were realized. Another published study concluded that using probiotics against IBS had a positive impact on symptoms, and it led to less pain and lower symptom severity scores.
There are many reasons to deploy probiotics against your IBS, and very few ones to “not try”. So I would go ahead and give it a try, and speak from a position of experience.
ONE: Will Probiotics Help You Poop?
Most of the blogs you will encounter talking about probiotics will throw titles at you…Dr. Dietician, PhD, Nutritionist etc. While these are all good in the grand scheme of things, the suffering is yours alone. This means that the solution will also most-likely be yours alone. I am nothing more than a volunteer Probiotic lab rat, and I was encouraged by the good results I saw. So I would only encourage you to go with your instincts, and when you find something that works for you, stick and commit to it to see how much better your life can get.
In my experience, probiotics improved my poop by the second or third day. Then I experienced some inconsistencies, but by day 10, pooping was an event to look forward to….and I wish I was joking about that.
From the research we have explored, probiotics help you balance your gut bacteria. If this happens, you can rest assured you will poop better.
Nevertheless, if your pooping problems do not originate from a gut microbiome imbalance. It is unlikely that you will gain the aforementioned benefits. My suggestion is that you adjust your diet accordingly and consume a lot of dietary fiber, drink a lot of water, and commit to a balanced diet. If this strategy does not work, you should seek the help of a qualified health practitioner.
As of the question of which strains will work best for you, I think you should seek the necessary tests. Alternatively, you can do a trial and error although it might end up just being as expensive as paying for the test.