Probiotics and IBS- Are They Beneficial?
Article

Probiotics and IBS- Are They Beneficial?

Published on Thursday, May 05, 2022
by
Emily Hamm

Health & Wellness

What’s the deal with probiotics? 

You might ask, should I take them to help manage IBS symptoms??

In fact, a lot of people take them to help improve gut health and manage IBS side effects like diarrhea and constipation. 

Let’s find out more about probiotics and what the current evidence suggests. 

WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”-

Basically, these are live bacteria that you ingest that can be helpful to our bodies (aka good bacteria). 

FUN FACT: 

Probiotics were first suggested in the early 20th century by Elie Metchinkoff. He theorized that lactic acid could prolong life and consumed sour milk daily (yogurt). He observed that eating foods containing lactic acid bacteria had a beneficial effect on health. 

Since this discovery, research on probiotics continues.

Currently, probiotics have been suggested to help in the following ways:

  • Prevent growth of pathogenic bacteria (bad gut bacteria- e.coli, c.diff)
  • Boost immune function by protecting the gut barrier function and providing anti-inflammatory effects (makes your gut nice and strong)
  • Improves interactions between the gut and brain 

A systematic-review from 2019 summarized findings from current research on probiotics and irritable bowel syndrome. Presently, there is not sufficient research or evidence to determine exactly which probiotic strains are most beneficial in helping with IBS symptoms

There are mixed reviews in regards to taking a single-strain probiotic vs multi-strain probiotics. Optimal dosage of probiotics has also not been determined nor has it been determined the duration of probiotic use needed to see a positive impact. 

Current research has suggested that long-term use of probiotics may be more beneficial than short-term and that a multi-strain probiotic may provide the best symptom relief when it comes to IBS. Most studies completed have looked at lactobacillaceae and bifidobacteriaceae. Several other strains are being identified to investigate further to see the potential effect on IBS and symptom improvement: 

-Akkermansia
-Bacteroides
-Faecalibacterium

    Overall, a majority of studies have found positive impacts on taking probiotics to potentially help alleviate IBS symptoms and I don’t see any hurt in giving it a try (especially if it could help you!). 

    When selecting a probiotic make sure to look for the following: 

    • Language that indicates there are live and active bacterial cultures
    • CFUs (colony forming units) - this tells you how many live and active microorganisms are in one serving of the probiotic
    • A probiotic with multiple strains-  if you have questions about which strains might be best for you, make sure to talk with your provider and/or a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD/RDN). Keep in mind- new research is emerging!!
    • Third-party testing- choose a reputable brand that gets testing to evaluate for purity, potency and composition. Keep in mind- most OTC supplements are not regulated by the FDA

    You can also get probiotics in foods like yogurt and kefir. If these are foods you can tolerate, give them a try! 

    Dale HF, Rasmussen SH, Asiller ÖÖ, Lied GA. Probiotics in Irritable bowel syndrome: An up-to-date systematic review. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2048. doi:10.3390/nu11092048 

    Comments

    Join The Conversation...

    Expert Contributor

    Emily Hamm

    MS, RDN, CSO, LD

    Latest Articles

    Today
    A Gut-Friendly Way to Let Legumes Into Your Life Again A Gut-Friendly Way to Let Legumes Into Your Life Again

    A Gut-Friendly Way to Let Legumes Into Your Life Again

    Low-FODMAP
    Acid Reflux
    GERD
    IBS
    Nutrition
    Plant-Based
    Gut Health

    Kitty Broihier

    MS, RD, LD

    07/17/24
    Cortisol: Understanding the Stress Hormone and Talking to Your Provider Cortisol: Understanding the Stress Hormone and Talking to Your Provider

    Cortisol: Understanding the Stress Hormone and Talking to Your Provider

    Wellness

    Ashlie Morrissey

    DNP, AGNP-C

    07/16/24
    Embracing a Soothing Staycation: A Guide for IBS Warriors Embracing a Soothing Staycation: A Guide for IBS Warriors

    Embracing a Soothing Staycation: A Guide for IBS Warriors

    Health & Wellness

    Deanna Salles-Freeman

    Life & Health Coach

    07/15/24
    Berrylicious Bounty: Pick Your Way to a Healthy Gut This Season Berrylicious Bounty: Pick Your Way to a Healthy Gut This Season

    Berrylicious Bounty: Pick Your Way to a Healthy Gut This Season

    Nutrition
    Plant-Based
    Gut Health

    Haley McGaha

    RDN, CSO, LD

    07/11/24
    Digestive-Friendly Garden Bounty: Cucumber and Zucchini Recipes Digestive-Friendly Garden Bounty: Cucumber and Zucchini Recipes

    Digestive-Friendly Garden Bounty: Cucumber and Zucchini Recipes

    Low-FODMAP
    Acid Reflux
    GERD
    IBS

    Rebecca Ledford

    MPH

    07/10/24
    The Sun-Gut Connection: Why Sun Safety Matters for IBS and GERD The Sun-Gut Connection: Why Sun Safety Matters for IBS and GERD

    The Sun-Gut Connection: Why Sun Safety Matters for IBS and GERD

    Acid Reflux
    GERD
    IBS
    Wellness

    Piedad Cardona

    MD

    07/09/24
    Delicious Mediterranean Diet Hacks for Summer Acid Reflux Relief Delicious Mediterranean Diet Hacks for Summer Acid Reflux Relief

    Delicious Mediterranean Diet Hacks for Summer Acid Reflux Relief

    Acid Reflux
    GERD
    Nutrition
    Gut Health

    Emily Hamm

    MS, RDN, CSO, LD

    Explore More