Foods to Eat With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Ill be as brief as well in this one. Read carefully and search anything that doesnt make sense for you. Discuss any of these info with your personal physician or professional medical assistant.

When you are first diagnosed with IBS and trying to figure out what you can eat to relieve the constant cycle of pain and symptoms, it helps to have a list of foods to eat with IBS. IBS safe foods are those that are easy to digest, don’t cause any digestive problems, and can help you get important nutrients your body needs to work properly.

This is usually where a lot of different diet ideas conflict, because some will tell you to do one thing, while someone else might tell you the exact opposite!

I’m all for everyone doing as much of their own research as possible, so I’ll try to include the reasons why I recommend these foods to anyone with IBS. And to of course keep in mind that food sensitivities can be present in anyone to any food (even things you wouldn’t expect!) – so if you think you might be allergic or sensitive to certain foods on this list, make sure you avoid them!

Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are one of the safest foods for anyone to eat, as they are easy to digest. There’s a reason why they are one of baby’s first foods to try! They are high in antioxidants, as well as an anti-inflammatory food. When they are cooked properly, you can incorporate them into a number of different foods.

Blueberries: This is a food a pediatric specialist recommended for children who have irregularities. If you suffer from frequent constipation, blueberries can help – they are also high in antioxidants and vitamin C and a decent source of fiber. If you are following a food combining diet, you’ll want to make sure you follow the rules concerning when to eat fruit.

Flax Seed: Ground flax seed can give you many health benefits, especially concerning Omega 3 Fatty Acids. This powder like substance can be added to a variety of different recipes to give you added health benefits. Avoid whole flax seeds however, as they can be difficult to digest and make problems worse in some individuals.

Walnuts: Walnuts are another good source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Like flax seeds, if you have IBS we suggest grinding them finely to aid in digestion.

Leafy Greens: Green leafy vegetables give your body the many different nutrients it needs in order to perform at its best. Some people complain about having problems digesting them – if that’s the case, either mix them in with your favorite fruits in a smoothie or cook them first to help.

Kefir: Kefir is much like a yogurt drink. While there are some commercially available kefir drinks available, it can be concerning because some of them have carageen in them or are made from soy or milk, which can sometimes worsen IBS symptoms. Fortunately, making your own kefir drinks is pretty easy, all you need is some almond milk (read the ingredient labels carefully!) or other safe similiar beverage and Body Ecology Kefir Starter and you’re set to go!

All Natural and Organic Whole Foods: All natural and organic foods are a must, because most commercially available foods are filled with dangerous chemicals and additives that can only make symptoms worse. Even seemingly “safe” foods can have hidden triggers, which is why we recommend you find the most unprocessed varieties of foods you can find. Read the ingredient labels – if there’s something on there you can’t identify or pronounce, don’t eat it! If eating meat, make sure you also get organic meats, grass fed whenever possible.

Now, it’s also important to understand that it’s not just WHAT you eat…there’s a big difference in how you eat it, too!

Some people have found that food combining is a great help, though it is tricky to follow at first. Having a printable diet journal is imperative in tracking exactly what to eat and what your individual triggers may be.

Some foods are better cooked for some people, others find they are easier to eat when eaten raw. This may vary depending on a number of factors, unfortunately there are no set rules on “always eat this food this way”. But, there are a couple of guidelines:

Limit Eating Out: I’m not going to say never eat out again, but when you reduce the times you go out to eat you usually can help your stomach heal better. You never know what you’ll get when you eat at a restaurant. They usually only use the cheapest of ingredients, which aren’t usually of high quality. Cross contact with trigger foods can also cause some problems as well.

Chew Completely: Digestion starts in your mouth, so it’s important that you carefully and thoroughly chew all of your food. Many people find that grinding food in a food processor and making smoothies can greatly help make it easier to enjoy many things, not to mention eat healthy as well!

Determine Whether Snacks or Meals are Better for You: Some people say with IBS it is better to just have many small snacks, others will tell you it’s best to skip the snacks and stick to three square meals because it helps push food through the digestive tract better. Try both and see if you notice a difference or improvement to determine which one works best for you.

Don’t Overeat: It’s usually better to eat too little and then eat again in 10-15 minutes if you are still hungry. Eating too much food at once makes for more work for your digestive tract to do, so it’s better to not overload it at once!

These are just a few of our many tips available here at IBS Diet Guide, if you want to find out how to manage your IBS so you feel better, we hope you’ll check out our free diet sheets as well as our full program full of all the information you need.

Irritable Bowel Symptoms

Irritable Bowel Symptoms

Here are some of the common symptoms of people who have IBS:

Stomach Cramping: Stomach cramping can be intermittent, it can happen when you eat certain foods, for some it may happen after every single meal. For some the stomach pain can feel like a mild tummy ache, for others it may feel like your stomach is in knots or doing back flips. Stomach aches need to be present at least three days a month for three months in order for doctors to consider it to be IBS, and typically having a bowel movement will relieve the pain.

Irregular Bowels: Some people will have loose watery stools, going several times a day, whereas others will have nonstop constipation and it may be days without a bowel movement. Some people will fluctuate between the two on a regular basis. If you have to think about where the nearest bathroom will be in case of an attack, it’s a pretty strong indication that something is wrong with your digestive system.

Gas and Bloating: Gas and bloating is another common symptom of IBS. Some gas and bloating is normal with certain foods, but if it causes discomfort or embarrassment, it may likely be something that needs looked into.

IBS can also have some symptoms that don’t seem like they are related to the intestines or your digestive system at all:

Anxiety & Stress: Those with IBS usually are under a lot of stress and feel anxious about different situations. While IBS is not caused by stress or anxiety, these can make other IBS symptoms worse.

Fatigue: Having a lack of energy or feeling tired all of the time is another side effect of IBS. When your body has digestive problems, it usually means that you are not getting the nutrition necessary to have the energy you need.

Other Symptoms: Other symptoms can include anything from trouble sleeping to back ache to having urinary tract problems. These symptoms can often be confusing, so if you have any additional symptoms to IBS that seem unrelated, you may want to talk about them in detail with your doctor.

Now that you know some of the common IBS symptoms, it can help you determine whether or not you may be classified as having irritable bowel syndrome. However, it is important there are many other conditions that can mimic the same symptoms of Irritable Bowel, such as Colitis, Crohn’s disease and many others.  It is always best to talk with a doctor for a proper diagnosis and to outrule and more serious conditions before starting any treatment for IBS.

Eating For IBS – Diet Plan Book

Eating for IBS is probably one of the oldest and still most common ways of eating to help manage IBS symptoms. Developed by Heather Van Vorous, an IBS sufferer, it can help many people find relief.

There are two books that are helpful to get to understand her program and way of eating. The first book to look into isThe First Year: IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)–An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. It is relatively inexpensive (only $10.85) – and it very well may be exactly what you need to find some relief. It even have a section titled “What to Eat When You Can’t Eat Anything” – which for those with IBS are all too familiar with. It goes into great detail in exactly what to eat, what not to eat, and why what you eat and how you eat it may cause issues for some people.

Having read the book ourselves, we found all of the information to be very well presented and easy to understand. There is nothing complicated about learning about which foods to avoid, how to eat certain foods so they don’t cause problems, and to create simple meal plans. It also includes suggestions on how to find relief when you do eat something you probably shouldn’t have.

The second book to go along with first book is perfect for anyone who has difficulty in creating their own meal plans and recipes that follow the eating guidelines. Eating for IBS: 175 Delicious, Nutritious, Low-Fat, Low-Residue Recipes to Stabilize the Touchiest Tummy features some very easy to make and enjoyable recipes, as well as an ingredients list. While it does not go into as great as detail about what to eat and how to eat it as the first book does, it will give you a very clear idea of the foods to eat while on the diet.

Most of the diet suggests common principles such as avoiding high fat foods, common irritants such as orange juice and coffee, and other steps to take. It suggests only to eat cooked vegetables and only eating raw vegetables at the end of the meal, so it is does take some food combining principles into play.

It is likely if you eat the ways outlined in the book you can find relief, however, this is a diet that you will likely be using for the rest of your life, as it does not actually help you to deal with the problems of why you may have the symptoms of IBS. Latest research has suggested that probiotics are an important piece of the puzzle in digestive health, and this book does not really discuss that much in detail, especially since it was published in 2001 and the latest theories on probiotics have only been made in recent years.

If you feel as if you can’t eat anything and are suffering, thousands of people have found relief through Heather’s Eating for IBS system. While it may not provide a cure, it does help you go back to being able to enjoy life again – and it’s quite possible when done with Probiotic Supplements that it can be the right solution for you. Best of all, the cost of the books are less than $22 together, which is a great value for something that may truly bring you relief, freedom, and happiness.

What is Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) ?

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common diagnosis (25-50%) given to people referred to stomach and intestine specialists. It is reported to affect between 10-15% of people in the U.S. However, it cannot be diagnosed by any specific tests. It is diagnosed by criteria. The criteria are called the Rome II diagnostic criteria because a group of doctors meet periodically to establish rules for labeling intestinal conditions that have no diagnostic tests.

These conditions are called syndromes because they don’t meet the definition for a disease. They don’t have a specific known cause and/or diagnostic test(s). They are often referred to as “functional” problems. The cause of the functional problem in IBS is not known. By definition there is no abnormality that can be seen on a biopsy, x-ray, blood or stool test. The diagnosis is made by applying criteria after exclusion of other conditions or diseases of the intestine. There is not a universally agreed upon consensus for what constitutes an adequate evaluation to exclude other causes.

For IBS the criteria required to make the diagnosis is the presence of abdominal pain or discomfort that has been present for at least 3 months in the past year (not necessarily consecutively) and has at least two out of three of the following features:

1.    The pain or discomfort is relieved with a bowel movement.

2.    The beginning of pain or discomfort is associated with a change in frequency of bowel movements.

3. The beginning of pain or discomfort is associated with a change in the appearance or consistency (hardness or softness) or stools.

There are other symptoms that doctors use to support the diagnosis of IBS and to further divide it into three different categories. The three categories are determined by whether there is a predominant stool pattern of diarrhea or constipation or is the stool pattern alternating diarrhea and constipation. The supporting symptoms are as follows.

1.    <3 bowel movements per day

2.    >3 bowel movements per day (diarrhea)

3.    Hard or lumpy stools

4.    Loose, mushy or watery stools

5.    Straining during a bowel movement

6.    Urgency, or the sense that you need to rush to the bathroom to have a bowel movement

7.    Feeling of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement

8.    Passage of mucus or whitish material during a bowel movement

9.    Feeling of abdominal fullness, bloating or swelling

Therefore, the diagnosis is made by a report of the symptoms and the doctor excluding other causes. The extent to which other conditions are excluded is highly variable and doctor dependent. Self-diagnosis of IBS should be avoided because serious conditions can cause symptoms that mimic IBS.

Theories of the cause of IBS are not proven. Serotonin, a chemical present in both the brain and the gut, has been suspected. An imbalance in serotonin has been blamed for IBS. Serotonin increases the contractions of the intestine. Several medications that either increase or decrease serotonin have been developed to treat constipation or diarrhea predominant IBS.

More recently, research has been focusing on the common report of many people with IBS of a distinct time that their IBS symptoms began, often after some type of intestinal infection such as food poisoning, traveler’s diarrhea or gastroenteritis. This “post-infectious” theory has lead to theories of bowel injury and/or alterations in bacteria in the intestine.

An imbalance of “good and bad” bacteria in the intestine is a theory. Some are treating people with antibiotics and/or probiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria. Probiotics are live bacteria that are “good bacteria” like acidophilus and lactobacillus that can be taken as pill, capsule, powder or eaten or drank in yogurt or milk.

Food intolerances have been proposed as a cause of IBS by some, especially in Europe, but have not been accepted by most doctors in the U.S. Trials of elimination diets, with or without the use of food allergy or antibody tests have been reported in a few studies or a lot of testimonials to be helpful.

Lactose intolerance is a common condition that can cause symptoms that may be misdiagnosed as IBS and resolve with avoidance of lactose. Undiagnosed colitis or Crohn’s disease can be a cause of symptoms that can be diagnosed by colonoscopy with biopsy of the intestine. Blood tests for colitis and Crohn’s disease also now exist.

More recently, undiagnosed Celiac disease has emerged as a cause of what had been previously been diagnosed as IBS in as many of 20% of people.

Those with a diagnosis of IBS should be screened for Celiac disease, as it is a common condition, affecting 1 in 100 people. The symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea are common symptoms of Celiac disease and it is now known that untreated Celiacs can be constipated. Gluten free diet relieves these symptoms in people who are gluten sensitive.

If you have symptoms suggestive of IBS or have been diagnosed as having IBS it is important that you have an evaluation by a physician and other causes including coltis, Crohn’s disease, lactose intolerance, and Celiac disease are excluded. Food intolerance should also be considered. Minimum evaluation should include a blood count, stool tests for blood and pus cells, screening lab tests for Celiac disease, colitis, Crohn’s and a colonoscopy. Talk to your doctor about the diagnosis and how other causes can be or have been excluded before accepting the diagnosis of IBS.


For IBS being as common a condition as it is, it is still surprisingly unheard of. There are thousands of people out there right now who are dealing with IBS and who don’t even know it because they don’t know what symptoms to expect with it and what it is all about. Well that is why you should learn more about this condition, the IBS symptoms that are associated with it, and other important details that you should be aware of.

What Are IBS Symptoms

IBS is irritable bowel syndrome, and this is a very common condition that afflicts men and women all around the globe, and even some children. It is a type of digestive disorder that many people suffer from, but few actually talk about, which is why it still goes so unheard of. There can be a lot of damage caused to the body as a result of this condition, especially if the person lets it go untreated and does not see a doctor and seek treatment.

There are a few common symptoms that are associated with this condition but more than anything IBS produces symptoms such as fluctuations between diarrhea and constipation. If you notice that you are suddenly having digestive problems off and on, such as not being able to go to the bathroom and pass a bowel movement or being on the other end of the spectrum and finding that you have diarrhea, this is the main characteristic of this condition.

Treatment Of IBS

Of course as soon as you even suspect that you have IBS, you should get in to your doctor right away. They are going to be able to talk with you, perform a few tests, and generally assess your overall condition and from this be able to determine whether or not it is irritable bowel syndrome that you are dealing with.

If so, they will move ahead promptly with treatment, because they know how dangerous this condition is the longer that it is left without being treated. Fortunately there are quite a few different treatment options that are available for this condition, and so you are definitely going to be able to get yourself better, even if it may take a bit of trial and error.

Dealing with this condition is often very challenging, but if you are working hand in hand with your doctor and doing research in the meanwhile as you should be, then you should be able to find a treatment that works.


IBS, Friendly Bacteria and Your Digestive Tract


  • When you hear the word bacteria, what usually comes to mind?  Illness and infection are what we normally think of, but did you know that our body has bacteria that keep us from getting sick?  In fact the body needs bacteria in order to survive.Friendly bacteria, sometimes called probiotics, are responsible for digesting food, breaking down waste and making essential vitamins.  They line the digestive tract to prevent harmful microorganisms in food and air from getting into the bloodstream and causing problems in our body.  They help to increase the body’s ability to produce antibodies in our blood stream and work to make our immune system stronger.  Friendly bacteria also produce natural antibiotics inside the body to provide protection against infections, like food poisoning, and take up space in the digestive tract, which helps prevent infection from fungus, unhealthy bacteria or parasites.  By maintaining a large population of friendly bacteria you can:Reduce or eliminate many skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and      allergy related hives.

    Provide protection from asthma

    Reduce or eliminate the occurrence of seasonal allergies

    Improve the digestion process and lessen the likelihood of diarrhea or constipation

    There is a balance between the friendly bacteria and the not-so-friendly bacteria that must be maintained in the digestive tract.  The friendly bacteria need to be in control.  The balance between good and bad bacteria in the digestive system is the determined by our choices of food and lifestyle.  There is a well known quote by Hippocrates that says “Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food” that describes the need for friendly bacteria quite well.  The healthier you choose to eat and live your life, the more friendly bacteria you will have inside your body.

    There are several causes of the destruction of friendly bacteria in the gut.  Use of antibiotics is a main cause.  Antibiotics kill all kinds of bacteria, causing Candida overgrowth in the body because the friendly bacteria is depleted and can no longer keep the Candida in check.  This is why yeast infections are so common in people who are on or have just finished taking antibiotics.  Other causes of friendly bacteria depletion are:

    Eating foods high in sugar or sweeteners and regular consumption of refined or processed, prepackaged foods.

    Drinking alcohol on a regular basis

    Not fully chewing your food before swallowing

    Use of steroids, antacids, laxatives or oral contraceptives

    Drinking  chlorinated water and swimming in chlorinated pools

    Friendly bacteria support a healthy body by limiting the growth of harmful bacteria, fungus, and other microorganisms.  They also promote good digestion and strengthen the immune system.  Irritable bowel disorders are often caused by a lack of friendly bacteria in the digestive system.  Increasing the presence of friendly bacteria can help normalize bowel movements.

    Friendly bacteria have been known to relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance, combat Candida overgrowth and irritable bowl symptoms.  They can also help prevent vaginal and bladder infections and even allergies. Taking digestive supplements and eating foods fortified with live bacteria cultures, such as yogurt and fortified cheeses and milk, will help increase the population of friendly bacteria.  Natural supplements, like those found in our natural IBS product review section, help to support and maintain a healthy digestive system in which the friendly bacteria can thrive.

Irritable Bowel Control Symptoms,Treatments,Diets,Medication

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

What are the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and how is it diagnosed?

There is a set of criteria called the Rome III Criteria and if you have these symptoms, then you may well be diagnosed with IBS:

Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort that is usually partly or completely relieved by passing a bowel movement.
The onset of the pain was associated with a change in frequency of bowel movements
The onset of the pain was associated with a change in the form (appearance ) of the bowel movements
Often there is abdominal bloating and excessive wind / gas
Plus, other troublesome symptoms including low energy or fatigue, headaches, muscle aches and / or low back pain.

How is IBS sub grouped?

IBS is often classified based on the predominant type of bowel movements a person has. There is IBS with constipation, IBS with diarrhea, IBS with alternating symptoms of constipation and diarrhea. Many people also acknowledge a further subgroup where the bowel movements are regular but pain is the predominant symptom.

What is constipation?

Constipation is usually diagnosed as fewer than 3 bowel movements a week and hard or lumpy stools, which can be difficult to pass, giving you straining when you pass a bowel movement. Some people also have a feeling of an incomplete bowel movement, as though there is more stool in the rectum but they are unable to pass it.

What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea usually means more than 3 bowel movements day, which can be watery or loose and there is usually a sense of urgency (having to rush to the restroom/ toilet).

What is alternating constipation and diarrhea?

Many people with IBS have alternating bowel movements. Some people have a week of constipation followed by a week of diarrhea.

Other people have a few days or a week of constipation (no bowel movement for up to 7 days) then have a day of several bowel movements where the stools start off hard and lumpy but get progressively looser and more urgent. The following day, their bowels return to constipation with no bowel movement for another few days. This may in fact be better treated as if it is IBS with constipation predominant symptoms.

Many women notice their IBS symptoms are cyclical and linked to their menstrual cycle with constipation in the week or two before menstruation and then diarrhea or daily bowel movements for the first day or two of menstruation. It is very common for changes in sex hormones to alter bowel movements.

Spastic Colon

Spastic colon is another name for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

What is the cause of spastic colon or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

It is a name that was first used to describe the IBS symptoms. At this stage, it was thought the reason for symptoms was purely due to the colon (also known as the large intestine or large bowel) going into spasms and creating erratic contractions of the intestinal muscles. Now it is known that IBS often involves a functional change in much of the intestinal tract including the small and large intestine.

The cause of IBS is not completely clear. An infection such as virus, parasite or bacteria infection can be the trigger for many people’s start of IBS symptoms. This is sometimes called Post infectious IBS.

For other people, taking antibiotics or other medications including non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs for pain or taking the oral contraceptive pill can trigger the start of the IBS symptoms. One mechanism causing IBS seems to involve a change in bacteria within the intestine, leading to a change in balance of healthy bacteria and unwanted pathogenic bacteria or yeasts.

IBS is thought to result when the intestinal muscles contract faster or slower than normal. Abnormal intestinal contractions can cause abdominal pain, cramping, flatulence and diarrhea and constipation. When the intestinal wall muscles contract faster than normal sudden, urgent and loose bowel movements result. Alternatively when the muscles contract slower than normal the person experiences constipation.

People with IBS may detect certain phases of digestion and may describe cramping or ‘tugging’ sensations consistent with an enhanced perception of pain. As IBS develops, the wall of the intestinal tract becomes more sensitive, so tolerance lowers to some foods and amounts of food and air in the stomach and small intestine.

For some people with IBS the immune cells of the intestinal tract can begin to react to a previously safe food and identify it now as something ‘foreign’ invading the body. Alternatively, the number of digestive enzymes may reduce in the small intestine or as bacteria change in the large intestine, increased fermentation of foods occurs.

These changes are the start of food intolerance and can cause a number of reactions triggering symptoms of IBS and often other symptoms including low energy or fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, low back pain, increased menstrual pain, altered mood, reduced concentration and memory and what people call ‘foggy brain’.

In IBS the intestinal muscles also become more sensitive to the effects of emotional and physical stress, which can trigger a change in muscle contractions, increasing bowel movement frequency and abdominal cramps, known as Spastic Colon

What is an Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet?

There are many approaches for dietary treatment for IBS, seemingly with some conflicting information which can easily be confusing, when trying to seek advice on diet to treat IBS.

Early research into diet for IBS focused on changing the fiber in the diet, usually recommending to increase fiber to help symptoms of IBS. But many people actually feel their IBS symptoms worsen for eating more fiber and/ or certain types of fiber and more recent research proves this to be the case.

As the intestinal wall becomes more sensitive in IBS, tolerance changes to the amount of food per mealtime. IBS symptoms can be triggered by eating large meals and overfilling their stomach. There are also a number of other foods or drinks that if eaten in excess tend to trigger symptoms, including fat, spices, carbonated drinks and the action of swallowing excess air such as when chewing gum.

The role of allergy and intolerance to food as a trigger of IBS symptoms is a complex and confusing area for many people including health practitioners and the people themselves with IBS.

Research shows that up to 70% of people with IBS do have an intolerance to one or more foods. But the tests for identifying food intolerance are varied and most have a poor level of accuracy, which makes the process of diagnosing food intolerance more difficult.

Theoretically it is possible to develop an intolerance to any food eaten regularly in the diet. The food involved will also depend on the underlying change and mechanism in the intestinal wall that is causing the food intolerance.

Elimination diets remain the most common method for identifying food intolerance. The Elimination diet involves removing the suspected food from the diet for a period of time (usually 2 to 6 weeks) and then re challenging the food in the diet to confirm whether it triggers the unwanted symptom(s) back.

There are many forms of elimination diet and methods for the re challenges of foods to confirm food intolerances. These include the ‘Few Foods Diet’ removing all foods except 4 foods (1 protein rich food, carbohydrate rich food, 1 vegetable and 1 fruit), the Stone Age diet which remove all except about 16 basic foods, the ‘Low Starch Diet’ which removes all starch rich foods, ‘The Specific Carbohydrate Diet’ which removes certain carbohydrates , ‘The Low Sugar low Yeast Diet’ and Elimination diets which remove just one food at a time.

There has been some excellent quality research since 2003 mainly pioneered by Dr Sue Shepherd and Dr Peter Gibson in Melbourne, Australia on food intolerance and IBS. Their research including double blind placebo controlled trials, has identified a group of foods that up to 75% of people with IBS are intolerant to and once removed from the diet are resulting in highly significant freedom of IBS symptoms. This group of foods is known by the acronym FODMAPs, a group of carbohydrates which when eaten are often poorly absorbed and therefore highly fermentable, triggering IBS symptoms.

The same group of researchers have also refined a means of testing malabsorption of two of these carbohydrates i.e. fructose and lactose. The test is known as Diagnostic Breath Hydrogen and Methane testing for fructose and lactose malabsorption. The results of this test often form the basis for an Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment – Probiotics

Probiotics in the Treatment of IBS

Micro-organisms include bacteria, which are prevalent in several regions of the body, including the mouth, nose, pharynx, intestinal tract, vaginal tract, and skin.

The stomach is not heavily colonized because of its low pH. The duodenum, or first part of the small intestine, also has low microbial populations because of both the quick transit of contents through it and the presence of pancreatic secretions that create a hostile environment for microbes.

There is a progressive increase in both numbers and species of microbes, however, along the remaining part of the small intestine in the jejunum and ileum. The large intestine (large bowel / colon) is the most heavily populated area of the gastrointestinal tract. These bacteria are vital to health. They help digestion of foods, production of some nutrients, maintain regular bowel movements and a healthy immune system.

The numbers and types of healthy bacteria can be altered by a change in diet, taking antibiotics, certain medications including the oral contraceptive pill and a virus, parasite or bacterial infection. The resulting change in bacteria numbers and strains within the large intestine and is often called ‘gut dysbiosis’ and can result in less resistance to colds and infections, less protection against bowel cancer and / or symptoms of IBS.

To restore and maintain levels of healthy gut bacteria, there are foods and supplements containing what are called Probiotics. The term Probiotic means ‘live’ microorganisms that when taken in adequate amounts provides a health benefit on the host. i.e us the human being.

In traditional diets, ‘cultured’ or ‘fermented’ foods were commonly eaten most days. Culturing or fermenting food was useful as a way of preserving food for longer, so that it could be eaten over several days or weeks. But this food also provided a regular dose of healthy bacteria to maintain health.

In the ‘Western’ diet, the intake of cultured foods has reduced to very few or none at all, as foods are preserved now by canning, freezing or drying. Fortunately there is a resurgence happening in eating these ‘cultured’ or ‘fermented’ foods in the diet. Some of the traditional cultured foods are yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi.

Yogurt is perhaps the most common probiotic carrying food, but the market has expanded beyond yogurt. Cheese, fermented and unfermented milks, juices, smoothies, cereal, nutrition bars, and infant/toddler formula all are food vehicles for probiotic delivery.

In addition to being sold as foods, probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, medical foods, and drugs. Often these products are composed of concentrated, dried microbes packaged into capsules, tablets, or sachets. This format is convenient for the delivery of large numbers of microbes that, if manufactured and stored properly, can be quite stable even at room temperature.

The basic criteria for probiotics is that they:

must be shown to exert a beneficial effect on the consumer, preferably with a mechanistic explanation of how this occurred;
are nonpathogenic, nontoxic, and free of significant adverse side effects;
retain stability during the intended shelf life of the product;
contain an adequate number of viable cells to confer the health benefit;
are compatible with product format to maintain desired sensory properties;
and are labeled in a truthful and informative manner to the consumer.

There are plenty of research trials into Probiotics for treatment of IBS symptoms and certain strains of bacteria have been identified to be particularly helpful in treatment of IBS.