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Constipation means different things to different people. Most commonly, it refers to infrequent bowel movements. Some interpret it as a decrease in stool amount or difficulty in passing motion. Regardless, it is one of the most common gastrointestinal complains worldwide.
Some of the most common cause of constipation in Singapore includes
- Inadequate fibre and water intake
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Environmental changes
- Medication side effects.
If you are suffering from chronic constipation, be sure to exclude serious organic causes like
- Thyroid disorders
- Colon cancer
- Neuronal or muscular disorders
A condition where constipation occurs without a serious medical cause. Functional constipation is a common worldwide. 14% of adults suffer from this condition.
Some natural methods to treat constipation includes
1) Ensuring sufficient water intake
2) Consuming enough fibre through fruits, vegetable and cereals
3) reducing sweetened and junk food in their diet
4) Increasing exercise
Otherwise, oral medications like bulking agents and laxatives and stool softeners are recommended.
Probiotics for constipation
There is growing interest in the use of probiotics for constipation. Probiotics are live micro-organisms that can be consumed as food supplement.
How probiotics benefit functional constipation?
Firstly, functional constipation may be related to gut dysbiosis.
Evidence has shown that a decrease in the population of beneficial bacteria in our gut can result in intestinal constipation. Consumption of probiotics can replenish these deficient bacteria to our gut, thereby improving constipation.
Secondly, some probiotics increase the production of lactate and short chain fatty acids.
This would in turn increase the movements of the colon and help relieve constipation.
Studies have shown that probiotics strains such as bifidobacterium help with constipation
Overall, probiotics help to
- Shorten stool transit time within our gut
- Increases stool frequency
- Improve stool consistency
They can also help reduce bloatedness related to constipation.
Hence, probiotics may help, in conjunction with other traditional methods of treating constipation in relieving the symptoms and discomfort. It is a safe and effective method.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)