Millions of people worldwide suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and managing its symptoms can be frustrating. Although there is no known cure for IBS, probiotics have been found to be helpful in managing symptoms. Let’s take a closer look at the best probiotic for IBS and what you need to know about them.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. It is a functional disorder, meaning that there is no structural abnormality or underlying disease causing the symptoms. Several factors are thought to contribute to the development of IBS, including genetics, stress, diet, and gut microbiome imbalances.
IBS is characterized by a group of symptoms that can vary from person to person, including abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. These symptoms can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life and can be both physically and emotionally distressing.
IBS and bloating
Bloating is a common symptom experienced by many people with IBS. It is the feeling of fullness or tightness in the abdomen and can be accompanied by discomfort or pain. Bloating can be caused by a variety of factors, including gas, fluid retention, constipation, or a buildup of fecal matter in the intestines. In people with IBS, bloating may be caused by a combination of factors, including changes in gut motility, increased sensitivity to certain foods, and an imbalance in gut bacteria.
It is estimated that up to 96% of people with IBS experience bloating. Bloating can be a particularly bothersome symptom for people with IBS because it can be unpredictable and difficult to manage. It can also cause embarrassment and self-consciousness, which can further exacerbate the emotional toll of living with IBS.
Do probiotics help with IBS? How effective they are?
Probiotics have been found to have potential in reducing symptoms and preventing IBS in several ways. The effectiveness of Probiotics For Bloating and IBS can vary from person to person and may depend on several factors such as the specific strain and dosage of probiotics used, the severity of symptoms, and individual differences in gut microbiota.
The primary mechanism is through their ability to restore the balance of gut bacteria. IBS is commonly associated with an imbalance of gut bacteria, with lower levels of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli found in people with IBS. Probiotics have the ability to increase the levels of these beneficial bacteria, which may reduce inflammation and improve gut motility.
Another way probiotics may help reduce IBS symptoms is by improving gut barrier function. In individuals with IBS, the gut barrier may be compromised, allowing harmful substances to enter the body and trigger inflammation. Probiotic for IBS have been shown to improve the integrity of the gut barrier, potentially reducing inflammation and preventing the entry of harmful substances.
Probiotics can also modulate the immune system in the gut, which can be beneficial for those with IBS. The gut is home to a large number of immune cells, and an overactive immune response may contribute to the development of IBS symptoms. Probiotics can help regulate the immune response in the gut, reducing inflammation and potentially alleviating symptoms.
Furthermore, probiotics for IBS may directly affect the enteric nervous system in the gut, which is often referred to as the “second brain” due to its ability to function independently of the central nervous system. Probiotics have been shown to interact with the enteric nervous system, potentially reducing gut sensitivity and improving gut motility.
Best probiotics for IBS
So, what probiotic is best for IBS? The best probiotic for IBS may vary depending on the individual, as different strains of probiotics can have different effects on the gut microbiome. However, there are several strains that have shown promise in reducing symptoms of IBS.
- Bifidobacterium infantis
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Saccharomyces boulardii
How do they work?
Bifidobacterium infantis: This strain has been shown to reduce overall symptoms of IBS, including bloating, abdominal pain, and bowel movement difficulty. B. infantis works by producing enzymes that help break down complex carbohydrates that can cause gas and bloating in the digestive system.
Lactobacillus plantarum: This strain has been shown to reduce bloating and abdominal pain in people with IBS. L. plantarum works by producing lactic acid, which helps maintain a healthy pH balance in the gut and prevents harmful bacteria from thriving.
Lactobacillus acidophilus: This strain has been shown to improve bowel regularity and reduce abdominal pain in people with IBS. L. acidophilus works by producing lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, which create an environment that is inhospitable to harmful bacteria in the gut.
Saccharomyces boulardii: has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of IBS. This strain works by reducing inflammation in the gut and improving the integrity of the intestinal lining.
Read more: 13 Signs Probiotics are Working Effectively
Precautions When Taking Probiotics for IBS
While probiotics for IBS are generally safe, there are some precautions you should take when taking them. Make sure to speak with your doctor before starting any new supplement, especially if you have a weakened immune system or are taking antibiotics.
Should I take probiotics on a Low FODMAP diet?
The low FODMAP diet, also known as the FODMAP elimination diet, is a dietary approach used to manage symptoms of IBS. FODMAPs are a group of short-chain carbohydrates found in certain foods that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and can ferment in the colon, leading to gas, bloating, and other IBS symptoms.
Low FODMAP diet/ FODMAP elimination diet: One of the proven methods for treating IBS
One of the best probiotics for IBS which was proven to be methods for treating IBS is a low FODMAP diet.
The low FODMAP diet involves eliminating high FODMAP foods from the diet for a period of 2-6 weeks, then slowly reintroducing them to identify which foods trigger symptoms. By identifying and avoiding trigger foods, individuals with IBS can better manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Research has shown that the low FODMAP diet can be an effective treatment approach for up to 70% of people with IBS, particularly those with diarrhea-predominant or mixed-type IBS.
New probiotic supplement during any phase of the low FODMAP diet: Not recommended
It’s generally recommended to avoid taking any new probiotic supplements during any phase of the low FODMAP diet. This is because some probiotic supplements may contain FODMAPs themselves, which could potentially worsen symptoms. It’s also important to note that introducing any new supplement during the elimination phase can make it more difficult to identify trigger foods, as any improvements in symptoms could be attributed to the supplement rather than the elimination of FODMAPs.
People with IBS should wait until the reintroduction phase of the low FODMAP diet before introducing any new probiotic for irritable bowel syndrome or other dietary supplements, to better understand the effect of each individual component on IBS symptoms.
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