Daily supplements of a symbiotic mix of prebiotic fibers and probiotic bacteria may provide relief for constipation without affecting abdominal symptoms, suggests a new study.
The branded symbiotic Lactofos – a combination of fructooligosaccharides with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains – was associated with improvements in the number of bowel movements of constipated volunteers, while no such changes were observed in the placebo group.
Writing in the journal Clinical Nutrition , researchers from the University of Sao Paulo and Ganep – Human Nutrition report that the symbiotic was also associated with a reduction in constipation intensity following 30 days of supplementation.
The study was supported by SKL Functional Nutrition, and the company also provided the synbiotic Lactofos supplements.
According to the FAO/WHO, probiotics are defined as "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host".
Prebiotics are "nondigestible substances that provide a beneficial physiological effect on the host by selectively stimulating the favourable growth or activity of a limited number of indigenous bacteria".
Synbiotics are a combination of the two.
The new study combined fructooligosaccharide (FOS) and Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium lactis.
The researchers recruited 100 women with constipation and randomly assigned them to receive two daily doses (6 g) of the symbiotic or placebo (maltodextrin) for 30 days.
Results showed that the frequency of bowel movements increased in the symbiotic group, but no changes were observed in the placebo group.
In addition, the consistency and shape of stools were improved, and a decrease in the intensity of constipation was also observed in the symbiotic group, but not the placebo group.
“Further studies, in particular large, randomized clinical trials, are needed to confirm these results and to define the clinical role of synbiotic administration in constipated patients,” concluded the researchers.
Source: Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2012.08.010
“Effect of synbiotic in constipated adult women – A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of clinical response”
Authors: D.L. Waitzberg, L.C. Logullo, A.F. Bittencourt, R.S. Torrinhas, G.M. Shiroma, N.P. Paulino, M.L. Teixeira-da-Silva