The Science Behind Probiotics and IBS: What You Need to Know
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a condition that affects millions of North Americans, presenting symptoms ranging from abdominal pain to bloating and constipation.
While the quest for effective treatment continues, a promising area of focus has emerged: probiotics.
In this post, our experts will explore the relationship between probiotics and IBS.
What Exactly Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be consumed to boost the numbers and balance of beneficial bacteria residing in our gut.
They can be found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut, or taken as supplements.
Balancing gut bacteria with probiotics aids in reducing inflammation, improving gut motility and overall gut health.
Will Probiotics Help With IBS?
A review of 26 studies on probiotics and IBS found that probiotics appeared to help IBS symptoms in adults, although results for children were more varied.
Notably, while some studies pinpointed probiotics as more effective for constipation-predominant IBS, others found they were beneficial in cases of diarrhea-predominant IBS. This could mean that if the right type of probiotic is consumed, probiotic supplements can help both types of IBS.
Which Probiotics Are Good For IBS?
The strains shown to benefit IBS sufferers the most in these studies include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. However, the best probiotic for IBS could differ among individuals.
As research continues, it’s likely that the optimal dose, duration, and specific strains of probiotic beneficial for IBS treatment will become clear.
Tips for Treating Your IBS With Probiotic Supplements
- Seek Consultation: If you suffer from severe IBS or any other health conditions that may be relevant, have a conversation with your doctor before starting a probiotic. They can guide you regarding the best probiotics for IBS and monitor potential side effects.
- Don’t Give Up Too Soon: While some have found relief in short-term usage (4-8 weeks), others report benefits with longer use (12-16 weeks). Continual consumption for at least 4-8 weeks is advisable to assess their impact.
- Slowly Increase the Dosage: Start with a modest dose. Ensure your chosen probiotic contains a minimum of 1 billion live cultures per serving. Gradually intensify the dose based on your personal tolerance.
- Consider Complementary Products: Consider supporting your probiotic intake with additional products that support electrolyte balance and hydration. For example, consuming probiotics with electrolytes maximizes the benefit to your gut health.
Incorporating Probiotics into Your Routine
When you have chosen a probiotic, decide on the best time to take your probiotics and try to keep to a regular routine.
Then, monitor your body's response each day. It can be helpful to keep a diary.
Some people report early side effects like gas, bloating and, more rarely, diarrhea. This will pass, and it’s unlikely that probiotics will make your IBS worse, but monitoring these symptoms will help you determine the best probiotics for you.
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