Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and similar gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are more common than you might think.
Despite the condition’s prevalence, it’s not yet known exactly what causes these uncomfortable symptoms. Recently researchers have taken an interest in the relationship between intestinal bacteria (probiotics) and gut health. Fingers crossed, this may just be the key to a better quality of life for those with IBS.
In this article, I’m going to take a look at the best probiotics for IBS and how to use them.
Quick Facts at a Glance:
Over 1,000 kinds of bacteria live in the GI tract. There are plenty of body cells, but there are ten bacteria cells for each one.
Most of the bacteria in the intestine are unknownand do not have traditional means of identification.
Some of the bacteria in the intestine are important to ensuring our intestines and GI tract act normally; some are also beneficial to our overall health. Other types, however, can cause inflammation, infection or just a general feeling of illness.
What Is Currently Known About Intestinal Bacteria in Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Research shows that bacterial communities in IBS patients are different than those without the condition.
However, it is not well defined what “normal” should be. It’s not known whether the intestinal microbiota have changed due to intestinal problems or if they cause the condition.
Can Changing Microbiota Affect Symptoms?
Evidence shows that bacteria composition in the bowels plays a part in how the intestinal tract develops and functions. It seems that changing the balance of good versus bad bacteria can lead to an improvement of the effects of chronic GI symptoms. The reverse is also true.
For instance, infection in the GI tract (acute gastroenteritis) may lead to chronic IBS symptoms that continue even after recovering from the sickness that prompted the symptoms in the first place. This is a condition known as post-infectious IBS.
What Are Probiotics?
The word probiotic refers to live microorganisms that provide positive health benefits when given in sufficient amounts; in addition to this, they offer beneficial nutritional value.
As such, they’re considered to be food supplements that can be found either in food products or prepared as powders, pills or capsules for over the counter use.
Can Probiotics Help with a Gi Disorder like IBS?
Studies have suggested that taking certain probiotics daily can improve intestinal function and reduce symptoms like bloating and general abdominal discomfort. (source)
However, not all probiotics are the same. The strain which was found to have the most beneficial effect was bifidobacteria. (source) When looking for a probiotic for IBS, try to find one that contains a variety of bifidobacteria.
What Are the Best Probiotic Supplements for IBS?
We all have a slightly different composition of gut microorganisms. It follows that supplements will not affect everyone in the same way. Depending on other conditions you have, some could even prove to be dangerous.
Though they’re rather low-risk, it is possible to develop side effects. This might include additional gas and bloating, loose stools or even diarrhea. (source) Although adverse reactions to probiotics are rare, you should always speak with your doctor before starting a new supplement.
Regardless of the supplement you take, you should not expect it to work overnight. Write down your symptoms over several weeks; if you don’t feel better, or if you are feeling worse, stop immediately and discuss a new plan with your physician.
For me, the product from Schwartz Bioresearch is the top dog when it comes to digestive support. Not only does each capsule offer up to 40 times more live cultures than others, each batch is third party tested for purity and potency while being manufactured in an FDA approved facility in the USA. This boosts your confidence in the quality of the product you are buying.