Constipation is often met with laxative or stool softeners. Chronic use of either for defecation difficulties can lead to unhealthy bowel changes.
- Could there be a more natural alternative for chronic constipation?
- What about kefir?
Researchers from health universities in Turkey—where kefir is a popular fermented milk product—asked those questions.
“Effects of a kefir supplement on symptoms, colonic transit, and bowel satisfaction score in patients with chronic constipation: A pilot study” appeared in the Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology in 2014.
Two groups of patients were assembled. The first group of 10 had “normal transit” and the second had “slow transit” (constipation).
The patients themselves kept daily records of personal defecation parameters: stool frequency, stool consistency, degree of straining, and laxative consumption.
- Stool frequency increased
- Stool consistency improved
- Colonic transit time improved
- Bowel satisfaction scores improved
- Laxative use decreased
Earlier studies show that intestinal microbiota differ between healthy individuals and patients with chronic constipation. Another way kefir and its probiotics may help: by lowering the pH in the colon via short-chain fatty acids (butyric acid, propionic acid, and lactic acid). A lower pH or more acidic colon enhances movement.
One meta-analysis from researchers in the United Kingdom compiled 14 studies with over 1300 patients and concluded that probiotics resulted in the following:
- Reduction of gut transit time by nearly 12 hours
- Increased stool frequency by about 1 stool per week
- Softer stool consistency
- Bloating and flatulence were reduced
For more about kefir and how to make it, use it and enjoy it, go to a previous IPA blog.