Gut bacteria play an important role in the healthy functioning of your body. From maintaining good digestive health to mental clarity and the strength of your immune system, a variegated gut microbiome affects multiple aspects of your health and wellbeing. Research also suggests that probiotic bacteria play a part in the onset and exacerbation of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Here’s what you need to know about IBS and how probiotics may help relieve some of your symptoms.
What is IBS?
IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder. This condition causes many symptoms such as stomach cramping, pain, flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation. (1) While IBS has no organic cause, it causes much discomfort and can severely reduce the quality of life for patients. Research indicates that approximately 7-21% of people across the world suffer from IBS and that the number of women suffering from this chronic condition is two to three times as much as men. (2)
What Causes IBS?
Before you understand how to treat IBS, it is essential to know what the possible causes of this condition are. First, there is no one primary cause of IBS. It could be the result of infections, overgrowth of harmful bacteria, inflammation in the intestine, improper absorption of carbohydrates consumed, interactions between the brain and the gut, and issues in the functioning of the digestive system. Stress often makes IBS worse, and certain food items could trigger symptoms and cause discomfort.
How is IBS diagnosed?
If you have been suffering from pain in the stomach at least once a week consistently over three months, and show two of the following three symptoms: pain before or during bowel movements, changes in the appearance of stools, and changes in the frequency of bowel movements. IBS has several subtypes, depending on the predominant symptoms: IBS-D (diarrhea), IBS-C (constipation), IBS-M (alternating constipation and diarrhea), IBS-U (unspecified symptoms), and post-infection IBS. (3)
Help for IBS
Irrespective of the subtype of IBS you suffer from, help includes medication prescribed by your physician/gastroenterologist, dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, and the use of probiotics. One of the essential nutritional changes that people who have IBS need to make is to cut out FODMAPs and lactose from their diet.
The acronym FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. Basically, it refers to an assortment of carbohydrates that are found in specific food items that are not appropriately absorbed during the digestive process. Foods like wheat and beans include FODMAPs and are generally responsible for carbohydrate malabsorption and painful digestive symptoms in most people. Eliminating FODMAPs and lactose from your diet is likely to bring your IBS under control and cut out potential triggers. (4)(5)(6)
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live, friendly bacteria that can be found in some food items (specifically fermented foods) and supplements. This good bacteria acts just like natural healthy gut flora and provides a host of health benefits to consumers. They work by repopulating colonies in your gut, thereby, making it easy for your body to maintain a healthy gut flora balance. Research suggests that the use of probiotics offers many advantages, such as improved digestive health, better immune system, improved heart health, natural weight loss, better skin, and mental clarity.
Probiotics and IBS: Next Steps
Research indicates that probiotics have a positive effect on treating and managing digestive health conditions like IBS.
- More than 80% of people with IBS have a noticeable bacterial overgrowth, particularly in the small intestine, which causes most of the IBS symptoms in their bodies. (7)
- Furthermore, the gut systems of IBS patients show much lower amounts of good bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and too many harmful bacterial strains such as E. coli and Clostridium. (7)
- Sometimes, the medication prescribed to treat IBS has a detrimental effect on the healthy gut bacteria in your body, leading to an increase in digestive problems.
- An imbalanced gut microbiome exacerbates the overall symptoms of IBS by lowering immunity, upsetting digestive motility, production of excessive gas in the intestine, and increase inflammation.
Every single one of these problems is positively affected by the consumption of the right probiotic strains.
Probiotics restrict the growth of infectious and harmful bacteria, boost the barriers of your immune system, keep inflammation in check, reduce the production of gas and your gut’s sensitivity to it, and slow down bowel movements. Research indicates that probiotics from bacterial families such as Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Saccharomyces have the capacity to target the specific symptoms of IBS as well. (7)
Choose the Right Probiotics for IBS
The positive effects of probiotics are numerous, however, all probiotic strains are not the same. Some strains offer specific benefits for your digestive health, and these are the ones you need to take. It is essential to choose a high-quality probiotic supplement that has an appropriate number of CFU or colony-forming units of the right bacterial strains. Strains such as B. bifidum, L. acidophilus, L. gasseri, B. lactis, and L. plantarum help in reducing abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and ease diarrhea and constipation-related symptoms.
LoveBug Probiotics offers effective probiotic supplement tablets that have 15 times more survivability than standard capsules on the market. Here’s the Skinny is a digestive health supplement that has a proprietary blend of probiotic strains—L. fermentum, L. plantarum, L. acidophilus, B. bifidum, B. lactis, L. reuteri, L. rhamnosus GG, and L. gasseri—designed to support and improve your digestive functioning, balance your gut, and aid in nutrient absorption. Improve the health of your gut and bowel movements with the LoveBug advantage.
If you are searching for a probiotic to help with your infant’s IBS and other digestive issues, our Tiny Tummies probiotic supplements are formulated specifically for babies with a combination of targeted strains including Bifidobacterium infantis. In a meta-analysis, two clinical trials found B. infantis to produce significant improvement in overall digestive symptoms when compared to a Lactobacillus species, as well as a reduction in IBS symptoms in participants who took B. infantis versus this placebo group. (8)
Experience Even More Beneficial Effects
To add even more diversity to your gut microbiome, you can try a combination of probiotic supplements such as Here’s the Skinny and Colds Suck (and Yeast is a Beast if you are female). All have different strains and taking them all together promotes optimal overall health.
- “Gastrointestinal Disorders.” Cleveland Clinic. Last modified October 2016. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/7040-gastrointestinal-disorders.
- Dai, C, CQ Zheng, M Jiang, XY Ma, and LJ Jiang. “Probiotics and irritable bowel syndrome.” World Journal of Gastroenterology 19, no. 36 (2013): 5973-80. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i36.5973.
- Saha, Lekha. “Irritable bowel syndrome: pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and evidence-based medicine.” World Journal of Gastroenterology 20, no. 22 (2014): 6759-6773. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i22.6759.
- Gunnars, Kris. “FODMAP 101: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide.” Health Line. Last modified November 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fodmaps-101.
- Halmos, EP, VA Power, SJ Shepherd, PR Gibson, and JG Muir. “A diet low in FODMAPs reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.” Gastroenterology 146, no. 1 (2014): 67-75. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.09.046.
- Mitchell, Hannah, Judi Porter, Peter R. Gibson, Jacqueline Barrett, and Mayur Garg. “Review article: implementation of a diet low in FODMAPs for patients with irritable bowel syndrome—directions for future research.” Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 49, no. 2 (2018): 124-139. doi: 10.1111/apt.15079.
- Hong, SN & PL Rhee. “Unraveling the ties between irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal microbiota.” World Journal of Gastroenterology 20, no. 10 (2014): 2470-81. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i10.2470.
- Ciorba, Matthew A. “A Gastroenterologist’s Guide to Probiotics.” Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 10, no. 9 (2012): 960-968. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2012.03.024.
- Schmulson, MJ and DA Drossman. “What Is New in Rome IV.” Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility 23, no. 2 (2017), 151-163. doi: 10.5056/jnm16214.