Diet and chronic constipation. Benefits of oral supplementation with symbiotic zir fos (Bifidobacterium longum W11 + FOS Actilight)

Acta Biomed. 2006 Dec;77(3):157-62.


Background and aim: Constipation is one of the most common disorders in Western countries and it is known that dietary factors such as a low fiber diet and low caloric intake are associated with this condition. Weight loss can disrupt the intestinal ecosystem resulting in intestinal dysbiosis that worsens constipation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of treatment with symbiotic zir fos (Bifidobacterium longum W11 + FOS Actilight) on chronic constipation in patients undergoing a weight loss diet.

Methods: Our evaluation included the recording of age, gender, weight, height, BMI, physical activity, constipation, diet, therapy compliance and laxative supplies. A hypocaloric diet (1,200/1,400 cal.) was prescribed to all patients, and they were submitted to a physical activity program and received 1 bag of symbiotic zir fos per day for the entire duration of the study. Patients' follow-up was available for up to 60 days.

Results: Two hundred and ninety seven patients (79.4% women and 18.2% men, mean age 32.2) were included in the study. The mean baseline BMI was 33.4 +/- 5.6 (range 22.8-56.3 Kg). The improvement of constipation turned out to be associated to age (p < 0.01). Patients with a mean age of 35 +/- 12 showed an improvement of constipation. BMI values were not significantly different among the groups of patients with improved, worsened or unchanged constipation. No significative difference was observed among groups due to physical activity. At the follow-up, after 20 days from the beginning of the study, patients that assumed at least 17/20 of the zir fos bags showed a greater improvement of constipation (p < 0.01) than the remaining patients who assumed less than 17/20 of the zir fos bags or that didn't assumed any at all. Patients that assumed laxatives (at least once a week) showedn to be more frequently associated with a worsening of constipation (p < 0.001). Diet compliance does not seem to influence the course of constipation.

Conclusion: Our data demonstrate the utility of symbiotics in improving constipation during hypocaloric diet in the treatment of obesity.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Cathartics / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Constipation / complications
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Defecation
  • Diet
  • Diet, Reducing / adverse effects
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage
  • Probiotics / adverse effects
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vegetables


  • Cathartics