Managing your symptoms is the most important part of living with IBS. As researchers and practitioners search for treatments, many have explored the potential benefits of probiotics. Recently, probiotics have become popular because they may reduce IBS symptom frequency and severity.
This article is our deep dive into probiotics and how to best utilize them to help treat your IBS.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your digestive system and are an essential piece of your microbiome. Your gut bacteria influence weight, heart health, digestion, and overall immune system effectiveness. Because these gut bacteria impact such a broad spectrum of your health, you can understand why it is important to maintain a healthy microbiome.
Probiotics are part of many foods and are also sold as over the counter supplements. We know that probiotics are an important factor for maintaining your gut health.
IBS and probiotics
Various studies suggest that IBS symptoms become worse when your gut flora are disrupted. These studies also suggest that compared to the broader population, people with IBS often have fewer beneficial gut bacteria and more harmful gut bacteria.
Researchers believe that these gut flora imbalances cause intestinal inflammation, which can directly trigger IBS symptoms and changes in digestive motility. Probiotics may improve IBS symptoms by:
- Inhibiting harmful bacteria growth
- Re-populating the beneficial bacteria
- Fighting inflammation
- Regulating bowel movements
- Reducing gas production
- Reducing sensitivity of pain receptors in the gut
There are tons of different probiotic strains and cultures. The key is finding the one that’s right for you.
Choosing the right probiotic
Certain probiotics have exhibited symptom relief in scientific studies.
|Overall symptom improvement||
L. Plantarum 299vBifidobacterium Infantis 35624
|Abdominal pain||L. PlantarumS. CerevisiaeB. BifidumB. LactisL. AcidophilusL. Casei|
|Bloating and gas||L. PlantarumB. LactisL. AcidophilusL. BulgaricusS. Thermophilus|
|Diarrhea||Bacillus CoagulansSaccharomyces Boulardii|
|Constipation||L. AcidophilusL. ReuteriL. PlantarumL. RhamnosusL. LactisB. LactisS. Cerevisiae|
To Probiotic or not to probiotic…
Because the body of research on IBS and probiotics is relatively new, it may be too early to make generalized recommendations for the broader public.
We are glad that there is evidence that links some probiotics to improved symptoms. However, until there is a way to better personalize a probiotic prescription to a person’s unique gut bacteria, we advise consulting your doctor before starting a probiotic regimen.
If you’re curious about probiotics and how they fit into your treatment plan, check with your PCP or GI specialist to discuss the right plan for you. Our IBS dietitians regularly consult with clients’ doctors to build a coordinated treatment plan tailored for long term results.
Kaitlyn Willwerth is a Registered Dietitian at OnPoint Nutrition. Kaitlyn's work focuses on providing individualized health and lifestyle coaching and, most importantly, support. She is a Certified LEAP Therapist and has also completed the Monash University 'Low FODMAP Diet for IBS' online training course for health professionals.