Medically Reviewed by: Nicole Anne Vergara, RD.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) significantly reduces the quality of life of the people affected by the condition. Its symptoms include constant abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, or even a mixture of the two.
Imagine skipping school and work, getting constantly worried about dining out, and having your daily routines affected by IBS.
The main cause of irritable bowel syndrome is still unknown, but according to recent studies, having an imbalance of microorganisms living in your digestive tract may be one of the precursors of having irritable bowel syndrome for some individuals.
So, what does this information exactly mean? It means that people with IBS would benefit from restoring the good balance of bacteria inside their gut, and restoring the microbiota can significantly reduce the severity of IBS symptoms.
The easiest way to introduce beneficial bacteria into your gut microbiota is by taking probiotic supplements.
In this article, you will be guided through everything you need to know regarding probiotics, how they can help you with your IBS symptoms, and the best probiotic for IBS that you can safely take.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits. As a home remedy for various conditions including IBS, probiotics are found in supplements, foods, and beverages. Probiotic bacteria are essential in keeping the oral and gut microbiota.
Different probiotic strains can help your body fight autoimmune diseases, improve overall gut health, and also target other diseases.
In relation to IBS symptoms, certain probiotic strains promote an anti-inflammatory response and improve gut dysmotility, wherein the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract do not work properly which leads to issues with digestion.
A meta-analysis that consists of more than 30 studies conducted by the American College of Gastroenterology concluded that taking probiotics may significantly improve IBS symptoms.
Specifically, these symptoms include reduction of abdominal pain, bloating, and flatulence among IBS patients.
On the other hand, the meta-analysis stated that the quality of evidence found in the studies is low.
Also, particular recommendations regarding the dosage of probiotic supplements are not verified.
A clinical trial that focused on the consumption of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium bifidum MIMBb75 reported that it can bring positive outcomes to IBS symptoms if taken once every day.
The trial also concluded that the Bifidobacterium bifidum MIMBb75 probiotic strain bonds more effectively in the intestinal cells which results in a significant increase and strengthening of the intestinal barrier.
Also, this probiotic strain enhances the overall intestinal microbiota of IBS patients.
Benefits of Probiotics
We are often asked questions regarding how exactly would a probiotic supplement help IBS patients.
Questions such as "Should I take probiotics for IBS?", "How can I benefit from taking probiotics while having IBS symptoms?", and other emerging questions about the significance of probiotics for IBS are indeed important to answer.
This section will help you learn more about the different benefits that IBS patients can get from taking probiotic-rich foods and supplements.
Fights Off Inflammation
A study revealed that using probiotics can provide significant improvement in IBS symptoms and it is mainly because of their ability to prevent and alleviate inflammation in the body.
Also, they are able to restore the natural balance of beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria to keep the gut healthy enough to fight off inflammation.
Boosts Immune System
Probiotics can boost our immune system by helping to keep our gut healthy. A healthy gut is important for a strong immune system because it is where we produce most of our white blood cells.
Slow Down the Growth of Bad Bacteria
They can help prevent the growth of bad bacteria by competing for space and nutrients. These good bacteria adhere to the intestinal cells, thus, preventing disease-causing bacteria to grow inside the gut. Probiotics also produce antimicrobial substances and stimulate the immune system.
Prevents Excessive Gas
Probiotics can help prevent excessive gas by keeping the digestive system balanced and healthy.
When the digestive system is working properly, it is less likely to produce excess gas. Probiotics also help break down food so that the body can absorb nutrients more efficiently.
More Controlled Speed of Bowel Movements
For IBS D patients who have diarrhea as their predominant symptom, taking probiotics can help with bowel motility.
Bowel motility is referred to as the movement of food starting from the mouth and out of the body. Bowel motility is significantly reduced in terms of speed, which also reduces bowel movement.
What Are the Best Probiotics for IBS?
Now that we have learned quite a lot about probiotics and their benefits, the next step is to find the best probiotics for IBS.
It is important to choose a brand that uses Low FODMAP ingredients to ensure that no other IBS symptoms would be triggered while you consume the supplements.
Many clinical trials have revealed the best probiotics for improving the symptoms of IBS contain strains such as:
According to a study in 2012, there were several clinical trials and experiments to measure the efficiency of Saccharomyces boulardii in treating various gastrointestinal disorders and helping the gut flora return back to its normal state.
It is also mentioned that it gives a lot of beneficial effects on patients dealing with acute and chronic GI issues. This probiotic is also usually prescribed to patients with diarrheal diseases over the past 30 years.Florastor® Daily Probiotic Supplement
The Florastor Daily Probiotic capsules are vegetarian-safe probiotic supplements that are made from yeast-based probiotics.
The main strain for this probiotic is the Saccharomyces boulardii CNCM I-745. A study regarding this supplement stated that it is effective in decreasing the frequency of diarrhea due to gastrointestinal disorders.
Patients may take the Florastor Daily Probiotic Supplement twice daily. It may also be taken in combination with your medications for IBS-related symptoms.
Over 600 clinical studies done on the predominant ingredient
No refrigeration needed
Not safe for lactose intolerant patients
Provides only one strain of yeast
Lactobacillus (L.) acidophilus
Lactobacillus (L.) acidophilus is purposely trialed to test for abdominal pain and bloating due to IBS and it is currently the most prominent strain for research among the acidophilus species.
According to over 45 clinical trials, L. acidophilus is considered to be the best probiotic strain worldwide and it can definitely help improve the immune system, other gut issues, and overall health.
This supplement is great for vegans and vegetarians. Plus, it is safe to take for patients with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
It is also made from all-natural ingredients containing 5.75 billion Colony Forming Units (CFU).
Soy and Gluten-free
Manufactured in a facility that also processes milk, egg, wheat, soy, and nuts.
Bifidobacterium bifidum MIMBb75
It was proven that taking the Bifidobacterium bifidum MIMBb75 daily can provide significant relief to all IBS symptoms.
There was more than 30% of improvement for IBS associated with abdominal pain using the Bifidobacterium bifidum MIMBb75. Other symptoms like irregular bowel movements and bloating are reduced and alleviated, thus, improving the quality of life.
The globally distinctive and patent-protected bacterium strain B. bifidum MIMBb75 is present in the Kijimea™ IBS supplement. The supplement has been clinically proven to alleviate IBS symptoms like chronic abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
The brand also claims that they manufacture these supplements without any sweeteners, preservatives, lactose, flavoring agents, and gluten. It can also be taken by people diagnosed with diabetes.
Activated within a few seconds
Ideal for patients with diabetes
Can cause mild gas or cramps
Probiotics and IBS-related Conditions
Probiotics and Constipation
A recent 90-day clinical trial revealed that IBS patients who have taken probiotic mixtures had favorable responses for constipation, bloating, cramping, and abdominal pain.
Among 122 IBS C patients, 66-90% reported a significant improvement for their symptoms by taking probiotics for 60 days.
Probiotics and Diarrhea
The symptoms of IBS diarrhea type (IBS D), which include loose stools, an urgent need to urinate, and abdominal pain, are likely to torment you.
There isn't a single optimal probiotic for IBS diarrhea that will completely cure the problem, but there are probiotics for IBS D that, if taken frequently, may lessen the symptoms.
The probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii is one of the most promising probiotics for treating symptoms of IBS D.
According to a 2014 study, S. cerevisiae was more effective when combined with ispaghula husk, a form of dietary fiber used to treat bowel movement problems.
Boulardii had an anti-inflammatory impact that may have contributed to an improvement in symptoms overall.
Probiotics and Flatulence
The large intestine's bacteria may be to blame for excessive flatulence. Hard-to-digest dietary fibers and undigested food that enters your gut are broken down by your microbiota.
Gases may be produced as a result of this procedure, which would worsen belly pain and flatulence.
IBS sufferers may be more vulnerable to abdominal pain brought on by typical levels of gas. According to research, their gut lining is more responsive to pain signals than that of healthy individuals.
Probiotics and Bloating
Certain clinical trials using the probiotic strains Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, B. bifidum MIMBb75, and B. lactis 2‐173 010 concluded significant relief of bloating symptoms of IBS.
Probiotics and Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
Patients with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) are not advised to take probiotics or any probiotic supplement.
The reason behind this is that taking probiotics when you have SIBO would just worsen your symptoms.
The good bacteria from the supplement would be trapped in the small intestines. The small intestines would then notice that these bacteria are not providing needed benefits to the GI tract, the small intestine will try to flush out these microbes and that's when SIBO symptoms emerge.
Are Probiotic Supplements the Best Option for Treating IBS Symptoms?
These supplements are not necessarily the best option for treating IBS symptoms. While they may help some people, there is no guarantee that they will work for everyone.
There are other options available, such as dietary changes and medications, that may be more effective for treating IBS symptoms.
Risks and Side Effects of Probiotics for IBS
There are a few risks and side effects to consider when taking probiotics for IBS. IBS patients should take note of the following risks:
Bloating, Gas, or Diarrhea
Some people may experience bloating, gas, or diarrhea. These side effects are usually mild and go away after a few days.
Small Risk of Infection
There is also a small risk of infection, especially if the probiotic is taken orally. This risk can be minimized by taking the probiotic with food or milk.
Probiotics are indeed helpful for individuals with gut disorders, especially IBS. However, it is always best to check with a GI expert or a Registered Dietitian before taking probiotics along with your IBS medications.
If you need an overall lifestyle change to manage your IBS symptoms, our integrated care plans are here to help you with your journey.
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