Many people suffer from an embarrassing problem, known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This condition can cause discomfort for the sufferer, and can adversely affect your lifestyle. There are ways to get your IBS under control by using various types of food. But what exactly is IBS? What are probiotics? How do you use probiotics for IBS? Read on to find out how to control IBS

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is an intestinal disorder that affects the large intestine—also known as the colon. Symptoms of IBS include:

• Cramps
• Abdominal pain
• Bloating
• Gas
• Diarrhea
• Constipation

IBS is chronic, which means that it will be persistent, and you will have to manage it over a long period of time. The good news, however, is that it does not cause changes to your colon tissue, or increase your risk of cancer.

People at risk of experiencing IBS include those who have just experienced a stressful event in life, or those who have had some sort of gastrointestinal infection. Genetic factors, as well as the environment can also contribute to the development of IBS in certain individuals. There have also been some studies which have suggested that the intake of spicy food may also be a contributing factor.

Luckily, if you suffer the disorder, you can take probiotics for IBS which will help to relieve your symptoms.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live organisms on a microscopic scale. Many studies on probiotics have been performed and have shown that they have a beneficial effect on various gastrointestinal diseases. While probiotics are a type of bacteria, they are typically thought of as “helpful bacteria,” providing benefits to your body instead of harming it.

Normally found naturally in your body, they can also be found in certain types of food and food supplements. Food such as chocolate or yogurt contain probiotics, which can often be used to help with digestive problems, and help to move food through your system. Although the medical community is still trying to figure out exactly how probiotics work, they are used to treat IBS and other common conditions.

Increasing your intake of probiotics for IBS has the following benefits:

• Probiotics can help by replacing the “good” bacteria you may have lost by taking antibiotics, or other medical conditions. Probiotics will replace the bacteria that have been lost, bringing your body closer to its normal state.
• Lowering the amounts of “bad” bacteria in your body is a second benefit of probiotics. Many of the bad bacteria can cause infections and make you ill.
• Probiotics can help to balance the good and bad bacteria inside your body, allowing your body to work as it normally would.

There are different types of probiotics, and each has their own benefits:

Lactobacillus – Found in fermented food such as yogurt and others, lactobacillus is the most common type of probiotic. This strain can help with digestion in those who are lactose intolerant, and can also be used to treat diarrhea.
Bifidobacterium – This strain is found in many dairy products, and is usually thought to be the best probiotic for IBS. Bifidobacterium is considered to be important as a probiotic, and is used regularly in the food industry. It also has a range of benefits, including controlling microbes within the intestines.

Supplements to Re-balance Your Body

As we discussed, there are a number of foods with probiotics. But which are the best probiotics for IBS? The best way to find out if your food contains probiotics is to read the label. The higher the probiotic content of your food, the quicker you may be able to get yourself healthy again and get your IBS under control. Having said that, there are some supplements and foods that are better than others.

VSL#3 – These supplement tablets are a highly concentrated blend of probiotics and are considered to be one of the best supplements for IBS. The supplement contains 8 different types of probiotics, and the company’s website claims it has over 450 billion live bacteria in each sachet of its product. VSL#3 is also used for patient care in hospitals for those with serious gastrointestinal disorders. The probiotic bacteria in the product is designed to survive in a range of conditions within the intestines, and will help to reduce inflammation and help to protect the intestines.
S. Boulardii – S. Boulardii is a type of yeast that is often used as a probiotic supplement. Many studies have shown the effectiveness of S. Boulardii to treat a range of disorders. Many types of diarrhea can be treated by this probiotic, such as traveller’s diarrhea, and it is also used to help treat symptoms of IBS and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Although S. Boulardii may help alleviate your symptoms, you should consult your physician if you have a weak immune system, or if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. You should also consult a doctor before giving S. Boulardii to a child with IBS. S. Boulardii products can be found online, or you may consult your doctor or pharmacy for recommendations.

Foods to Help With IBS

Other foods contain probiotics, which can help you get your problems under control. Here is a list of foods which contain probiotics for IBS symptoms:

• Yogurt – Yogurt is the preferred snack of many people. It also contains probiotics which can help get the helpful bacteria back into your body. Not all yogurt is made the same, however, and you should read the labels when you shop at your local grocery store. Normally, yogurt labels that say, “live and active cultures,” contain the best probiotics for IBS.
• Kombucha Tea – This tea is found in most Asian grocery stores and health food stores. In addition to adding the good bacteria to your body, Kombucha tea will also give you energy. If you have IBS, you may feel drained from the discomfort of the disease, so gaining some extra energy will be an added bonus after-effect. You can also try this tea hot, or drink it as iced tea.
• Miso Soup – Miso soup is available at Japanese restaurants. It can also be found at your local grocery store, to be made at home to your liking. The soup is a broth containing tofu and vegetables, and it is low in calories for anyone who is being conscious about their weight.
• Soy Milk – Much has been written about the benefits of soy milk, and probiotics are just another plus in its favor. Many soy milks have added probiotic cultures to the drink, which give the soy milk drinker an added bonus. Not all soy milks have probiotics so, as with yogurt, you should check the labels to ensure that live cultures are contained in the ingredients.
• Milk – Although milk with probiotics is a new addition to the grocery scene, some products do contain probiotics. Studies have shown that probiotic milk may cause bloating as well as gas in children, so you should check with your pediatrician before giving it to your child.
• Dark Chocolate – What could be better than dark chocolate? The knowledge that dark chocolate has probiotics. As an added bonus, it also has antioxidants which prevent free radicals in your body from damaging cells. Not only does dark chocolate appeal to your sweet tooth, it also protects your body in a couple of different ways.
• Pickles – Adding a pickle to your sandwich at lunch can make it extra crunchy, and many people enjoy simply eating a pickle on its own. Regardless of whether it’s a sweet or dill pickle, you will be getting some probiotics into your body.
• Olives – When you order a pizza with olives on it, you may not have known that you were getting more of probiotics. Olives in brine are an excellent source of probiotics, since the brine itself is what lets the bacteria grow. Snacking on olives is good for your IBS.

Prebiotics: Food for Your Food

With all this information, it’s important to note that probiotics will be less effective if you don’t give them the best chance to thrive in your body. To help them do that, eat food that contains prebiotics. These foods contain carbohydrates that are not digestible, and act as food for the probiotics in your body. Examples of foods which contain prebiotics include bananas, artichokes, and onions. If you have any questions about prebiotics, there is a lot of information online, and you can also speak with nutritionists or doctors who will be able to provide further information.

As with everything, you should always consult with your doctor before using probiotics to help you with your IBS. Doing so can help prevent any further complications arising from your medical condition or medications. Proper use of probiotics, however, can assist you in getting your digestive tract back to normal. Getting rid of harmful bacteria in your body is never a bad thing, and there is a wide range of foods and supplements to help you, regardless of your personal tastes in food.