Study Finds People with IBS Have Lower Gut Biome Diversity

The scientists say their study is the first to find a clear association between gut microbiota diversity and IBS.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) impacts 1 in 20 people in the United States. It causes symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation and can significantly reduce an individual’s quality of life.

Although scientists are unclear about what causes IBS, the American College of Gastroenterology believes changes in how the nerves and muscles control sensation and movement in the intestinal system may be a factor. In addition, an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the gut may also play a role. However, research on the links between the gut biome and IBS has shown inconsistent results.

Now, a new case-control study and cross- and mega-cohort analysis by scientists from Korea has found a clear association between IBS and less microbiome diversity. Their findings were published on January 19 in Microbiology Spectrum.

To explore the associations between the gut biome and IBS, the scientists analyzed the data of 567 people with IBS and 487 individuals without the condition. Using a unified data processing method, the researchers combined the data sets and found that the bacterial diversity was lower in people with IBS than in healthy individuals. In addition, the team identified that the abundance of 21 bacterial species differed between the two groups.

According to the study, these findings suggest that gut microbiota imbalances, or gut dysbiosis, appear to be associated with IBS. However, the scientists note that whether gut dysbiosis causes the condition is unclear. Therefore, more research is needed to determine whether changes in the gut biome contribute to the development of IBS.

How to improve gut biome health

Although several factors can impact gut biome diversity and abundance, strategies to improve bacterial diversity in the gut include consuming a healthy diet and eating foods rich in probiotics, such as yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut. In addition, lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, increasing physical activity, and avoiding excessive antibiotic use may also help improve gut biome health.

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