Probiotics for Bloating: Can They Help?

The gastrointestinal tract hosts millions of microorganisms, whose composition significantly affects health by influencing processes such as digestion, absorption, and synthesis. Probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria occurring naturally in foods, can also be obtained through supplements. These supplements might offer health benefits when ingested in sufficient quantities. Read on to learn more about probiotics for bloating.

Key takeaways:

Bloating is a feeling of fullness and discomfort in the belly. It's common and can be caused by many things, from eating habits, period, and constipation to diseases such as celiac and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Every person's gut microbiota generates gas, which is reported to be 0.2–1.5 l daily for healthy people. However, some people can experience excessive intestinal gas, which can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain.

Can probiotics help bloating?

Probiotics can help maintain a healthy composition of gut microbiota, aiding digestion and reducing issues like bloating, gas, and constipation.

The results of six double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials were evaluated in a meta-analysis. These studies involved patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Results showed a significant reduction in bloating and abdominal pain.

Probiotics have many different strains. Disease-specific probiotics, specifically those classified as drugs, contain specific strains to effectively influence gut microbiota.

Research has been ongoing to determine the effects of different strains, and further research is needed to fully understand the potential of probiotics for various conditions and diseases.

The best approach would be to consult your doctor before taking probiotics. Your doctor will guide you through suitable probiotics for you.

Potential risks of using probiotics

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has identified possible harmful effects of probiotics:

  • Contamination with harmful microorganisms. Products may contain microorganisms that are not listed on the labels. Products contaminated with harmful microorganisms can cause infections.
  • Transfer of antibiotic-resistance genes. Probiotics may transfer their antibiotic-resistance genes to other microorganisms found in the gut.
  • Possibility of harmful substances. Probiotic microorganisms may produce harmful substances, such as toxins or metabolites. Although rare, these substances could potentially contribute to adverse effects or complications in susceptible individuals.

Therefore, carefully considering and monitoring probiotic use, especially in those with compromised immune systems or underlying health issues, is essential to ensure safety and well-being.

Probiotic-rich foods

Probiotics are living microorganisms that are naturally found in foods. Fermented foods that are rich in probiotics include:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi
  • Sourdough bread
  • Some cheeses

If you're buying products with added probiotics, check the label for "live and active cultures" to ensure the beneficial microorganisms are present and viable.

Probiotic supplements

Probiotic supplements are available in various forms, including liquids, powders, and capsules.

Probiotic supplements contain different strains in various doses. They generally have a mixture of different strains. While some products are backed by science, not all are thoroughly vetted.

Therefore, it's important to do your own research before taking probiotic supplements. You can check whether the organization does research on their probiotics to determine strains and doses or not.

Keep in mind more probiotics are not always better. Probiotics are represented in colony-forming units (CFU), which show the number of viable cells a product contains. Higher values do not indicate more effectiveness; research should be done to determine the optimal CFU for strains and intended use.

Regulation of probiotic supplements

Probiotics are one of the most popular dietary supplements. They can be classified as food ingredients, dietary supplements, and drugs by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on their intended use.

If a probiotic product is classified as a dietary supplement, it does not require approval from the FDA before being marketed. If a probiotic product is classified as a drug, its safety and effectiveness must be proven through clinical trials and FDA approval is required.

Selecting the right probiotic supplements

Here are some suggestions to keep in mind before purchasing the right probiotics for you:

  • Check the expiration date. Probiotics should be alive to be effective. As with all products, probiotics have a shelf life. Check the "expiration" or "use by" date.
  • Store probiotics as recommended. Follow the storage instructions displayed in the package.
  • Look for brands that do research and testing. Reputable manufacturers conduct clinical trials and tests on their products. Look for supplements with transparently presented research that demonstrates safety, potency, and purity. Third-party testing adds credibility.
  • Check for allergens and additives. Review the supplement's ingredients for potential allergens and additives, especially if you have sensitivities or dietary restrictions.

Probiotics could help with bloating, but it's important to be careful. Remember to talk to a doctor before trying them; getting personalized advice is best for a safe and effective approach.

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