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Do you find you often suffer from a bloated tummy and or a crampy stomach with either constipation or diarrhea or sometimes both? It could be Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The cause is still relatively unknown, but it does not seem to cause long lasting damage to the digestive tract. Although it definitely can be painful, irritating and annoying for sufferers and for some very debilitating during an attack.
Four factors that may trigger IBS:
Infection – after a gastrointestinal infection, symptoms may persist long after the bad bugs are gone. The reason is unknown but could include changes in nerve function or bacterial flora.
Certain foods – poor absorption of lactose and fructose, spicy foods and low fibre diets are potential IBS triggers (a FODMAP diet may assist).
Stress – anxiety in particular can affect the nerves in the bowel.
Medications – side effects of some medications may contribute to IBS symptoms especially after antibiotic use.
So what can you do?
There is now a lot of interest in the potential of probiotics to treat and assist in alleviating the symptoms of IBS.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that inhabit the digestive tract. They aid digestion, stimulate immunity and help to keep potentially harmful organisms at bay.
The main sources of probiotics apart from supplementation are cultured milk products, such as yoghurt and buttermilk.
Examples of commonly available probiotic species in food and supplemental form include: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium animalis, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri.
Studies support these findings with a 2009 randomised trial finding that probiotics in IBS had a moderate improvement in overall symptoms after several weeks of treatment. The primary outcome measures assessed were the overall improvement in the following symptoms: pain, flatulence, bloating, anxiety and quality of life.
Two other systematic reviews from 2008 have made similar claims about the emerging role of probiotics in treating symptoms of IBS.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is more common in females, although children and men can be affected too.
Probiotics may relieve the symptoms of flatulence in IBS sufferers by affecting the fermentation processes in the bowel which results in less gases being produced.
Foods other than yoghurt that can support probiotic activity include: miso, tempeh, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, bananas, garlic and onions.
BioCeuticals has an IBS specific ProBiotic – UltraBiotic IBS designed to assist alleviate symptoms.
To find out more contact your local practitioner, pharmacist or contact 0800 451 285.
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