If you’re struggling to remember when you last emptied your bowels, and you vaguely recall having to strain before you managed to pass out something (which was likely lumpy, dry, and hard), you may be dealing with constipation.
While constipation isn’t typically life-threatening, it’s undeniably uncomfortable.
Averaging just one or two bowel movements a week can make you feel bloated, crampy, and sluggish. All that straining may also cause several painful complications, including anal fissures  and rectal prolapse .
Fortunately, resistant maltodextrin, a type of prebiotic fiber, can help “regularize” the frequency of your bowel movements and make those stools easier to pass. Continue reading to find out how.
Constipation is a condition in which an individual has uncomfortable or infrequent bowel movements. Symptoms include:
The Bristol stool chart  is a useful tool to evaluate your stools’ appearance and determine whether you’re constipated.
Under normal circumstances, if you’re notconstipated, your stools should resemble types 3 and 4 — with a sausage-like shape, either with cracks on the surface or a smooth and soft surface.
On the flip side, if you’re constipated, your stools will look like types 1 and 2: Hard, dry, and lumpy .
In general, constipation can occur when the movement and contractions of the digestive tract are too slow, resulting in more water absorption from the stools by the large intestine.
When the stools reach the colon, they become hard and dry, requiring greater effort to pass out or may even result in blockage. In severe cases, medical interventions will be necessary to remove the stools and clear the blockage.
To understand how resistant maltodextrin, a prebiotic fiber, keeps constipation away, you'll first need to know what it is, so let's start there.
Prebiotic fiber (also known simply as "prebiotics") is an indigestible carbohydrate found in many fruits and vegetables, particularly those that contain complex carbohydrates, such as resistant maltodextrin .
The most immediate mechanism through which resistant maltodextrin helps prevent constipation is through its high water-drawing effect in the colon. This draws water from the surrounding membrane to the stools, which softens the stools and facilitates their movement down the large intestine and out of the digestive tract .
This is especially useful for people suffering from severe forms of constipation with very dry and hardened stools. The water-drawing effect of resistant maltodextrin enables it to draw water to the stools, softening them and making them easier to be passed out instead of adding bulk which may worsen constipation.
In addition to its water-drawing effect, resistant maltodextrin also undergoes a process known as fermentation when it resists digestion by the body’s enzymes and reaches the colon.
Fermentation occurs when the gut microbiota feeds on prebiotic fibers, producing an array of beneficial metabolites. One of the many metabolites is short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) .
SCFAs are energy sources for cells in the surrounding tissues of the colon.
They can stimulate the large intestine and increase peristaltic contractions , ensuring that waste products can transit through the digestive tract and out of the body smoothly.
The remaining waste products from the fermentation process also add bulk to the stools, which makes them easier to be passed out.
Finally, while your body can't break down prebiotic fibers into simple sugars for energy, they area food source for the good gut bacteria in your small intestine and colon.
Prebiotic fibers feed and nourish your good gut bacteria, which enhances the healthy balance of your gut microbiota.
The gut microbiota consists of different types of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi . The number of bacterial cells is estimated to outnumber our human cells by about 10 times.
Everyone is born with a unique set of innate (inborn, natural) gut microbiota. The composition and amount then get altered throughout the lifespan due to lifestyle, environmental, and dietary factors . The use of medications such as antibiotics can also impact your gut microbiota.
What a healthy gut microbiota looks like can differ from person to person.
In general, however, scientists agree that a healthy gut maintains a balance between good gut bacteria and bad gut bacteria .
And prebiotic fibers help encourage a happy, healthy gut by feeding and nourishing your good gut bacteria — creating an environment where beneficial bacteria (such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) can flourish and crowd out unwanted and harmful bacteria.
Research  shows maintaining a healthy gut microbiome could prevent constipation.
To promote bowel irregularity, focus on taking at least 3-5 grams of prebiotic fiber daily.
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