Best probiotics for IBS
Up to 1 in 4 people suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), while more than 4 in 10 regularly suffer digestion issues. IBS is twice as common in women than men, and it's more common for symptoms of IBS to start in your 20s and 30s. While IBS is a chronic condition, meaning it may not go away, our short guide explains how your diet and supplements for IBS can help manage your condition and frequency of symptoms. You may also enjoy reading the latest research into the causes and symptoms of IBS.
What is IBS?
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a collection of symptoms including stomach pain or cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, excess gas, passing mucous from the anus, backache and incontinence. These symptoms of IBS may occur with many health conditions of the gut, therefore IBS is often only diagnosed by a health professional once everything else has been ruled out. Symptoms of IBS are more likely to present themselves in the mornings, and those who suffer poor sleep are more likely to be affected by IBS. Learn more in 'Common and unusual symptoms of IBS'.
What causes IBS?
There are a few reasons why someone might suffer from IBS. These include over-sensitised nerves in the gut, food intolerances, an imbalanced gut microbiome, too low levels of the number healthy, active probiotics in the gut, and possible gut infections with bacteria, yeasts or parasites. There is also a strong link between IBS and stress, low fibre diets and high caffeine intake.
How diet can help with IBS
It is important that sufferers of IBS keep a food diary to help understand if any foods in your diet are triggering a reaction. Your diet should provide plenty of water-soluble fibre which helps to feed the probiotics in your gut as well as aiding with normal bowel movements and transit times.
You may also enjoy learning about the '7 best foods to help you debloat'.
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What are probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the body and are found in very large numbers in the gut. The gut is teaming with trillions of organisms ranging from bacteria, fungi and parasites, which are kept in check by healthy and active probiotics. Probiotics provide a vast number of functions throughout the entire body, from fuelling our mental health, brain performance and energy and to our immunity and the health of our skin. For example, 70% of our immunity is in our gut, while our gut is also called 'the second brain' and is connected to our brain via 'the gut-brain axis'. Learn more in 'What are probiotics'.
How do probiotics help with IBS?
It's common for IBS symptoms to be accompanied with anxiety and depression, and stressful situations can make IBS worse. A healthy microflora - also known as our 'gut microbiome' - is needed to convert the amino acid 'L-Tryptophan' into our happy hormone which is 'serotonin'. Serotonin is then transported into the brain on the back of insulin. You may also enjoy reading 'What is insulin resistance'.
Low serotonin is a major cause of depression and anxiety. Our gut contains hundreds of millions of nerve cells and is called the 'second brain' because these nerves are all serotonin receptors in our gut. This is why, for example, we get butterflies in our stomach when we're nervous - it is the result of signals from our brain being sent throughout our body from our brain, including to the gut. Serotonin is also responsible for triggering gut movement needed for healthy bowel movements. Learn more in 'What does your poo say about your health'.
Probiotics produce short chain fatty acids which help by regulating gut health, and helping to prevent the start of food intolerances - a big problem with IBS sufferers. Probiotics also help to crowd-out unwanted organisms in the gut such as bad bacteria, yeast and parasites, and they produce a substance called 'lactic acid' which makes the environment unfavourable to harmful organisms.
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Probiotics produce over 200 digestive enzymes which are particularly useful in IBS patents who frequently find undigested food in their stools. Undigested food can lead to irritation of the colon and diarrhoea.
Best foods for IBS
There are a wide range of healthy foods that are good for your gut if you have IBS. However you can be sensitive to any foods, and even if they're good for one person it doesn't always mean they're good for another, so if something on this list doesn’t suit you, avoid it.
Fibre rich foods
Fibre rich foods are generally good for those who suffer from IBS. Most vegetables and fruit are great, however some people have problems with cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, apples, citrus fruits and melons. Brown rice is another great fibre-rich food for IBS sufferers.
Low FODMAP diet
FODMAP stands for 'Fermentable Oligo, Di and Monosaccharides and Polyols'.
Foods rich in FODMAP have a tendency to ferment in the gut if not broken down properly and cause a wide range of gut symptoms and can worsen or trigger IBS. As a result many people choose a 'low FODMAP diet' to help prevent or minimise symptoms of IBS. The list of low FODMAP foods is extensive, so you need to research the best low FODMAP foods for you, and it can also be worth buying a low FODMAP foods cookbook, such as the Low FODMAP Recipe Book by Lucy Whigham.
Best probiotics for IBS
Lactobacillus acidophilus and lactobacillus plantarum are among the most researched probiotics to relieve IBS symptoms. Research has found that using this combination of probiotics can result in a reduction of symptoms in 55% of IBS sufferers.
Research into Gut Works® , voted 'Best probiotic for IBS', which includes 6 clinically studied probiotic strains including Lactobacillus acidophilus and plantarum, shows it is 3x more effective than standard probiotics and 88% of people who take Gut Works® enjoy relief from symptoms of IBS within 4 weeks.
Other studies show an improvement in all symptoms on 95% of patients who took lactobacillus plantarum, and that taking lactobacillus plantarum could improve flatulence, as well as reducing the number of days with abundant gas by half in IBS sufferers.
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