Do Probiotics Help With Bloating?
Most cases of bloating is caused by an excess of gas in your gut but the reasons for this increase in gas can be varied.
They can be down to diet, gut bacteria, stress, or allergies and can vary in severity.
In this probiotic's for bloating guide, I will be looking at whether or not Probiotic bacteria can help to ease that tight annoying feeling that bloating brings.
The Microbiome And Bloating
The microbiome is made of billions of different bacteria that include good bacteria like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria and bad bacteria like Enterobacteriaceae, Clostridia but usually, if you have enough good bacteria in your microbiome, they do a good enough job of crowding out the bad bacteria.
Through modern life, antibiotic usage, and a western diet high in processed foods the balance of bacteria in the microbiome can shift allowing the bad bacteria to take over.
The microorganisms in your microbiome are important for things like immunity, cortisol production, and things like mental health through the gut & brain axis.
When you experience issues with your microbiome you may start to notice digestive side effects. like diarrhea, gas, anxiety, gastritis, and of course bloating which is what this probiotic's guide will be about.
Research has shown that certain probiotic strains may be able to work to fix dysbiosis and potentially reduce bloating.
Probiotic's For Bloating
Probiotics are microorganisms that are a type of friendly bacteria responsible for the normal functioning of human health.
They can be found in fermented foods like Kimchi, Sauerkraut, and Miso Paste and dairy drinks like Kefir milk at various CFU levels, and in probiotic supplements with a set Colony Forming Unit.
In fermented foods, you will usually find various Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium strains that have been studied to have different health benefits.
Your body cannot produce these probiotic strains naturally so it's important to get them from supplementation, diet or to feed existing strains with prebiotic fiber.
What Probiotic Strains For Bloating?
When it comes to studies related to probiotics for bloating you have to instead look for studies that cover the use of probiotics for irritable bowel syndrome because of the overlap between IBS and bloating.
In 2011, one such clinical trial from the University of North Carolina was published in Pubmed looking at the use of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM & Bifidobacterium Lactis Bi-07 on the symptoms of bloating in patients with IBS.
A total of 60 patients with bloating were included to partake in this placebo trial with 31 given a probiotic and 29 given a placebo. They took the capsule twice per day for 8-weeks but amazingly, results were noticed much earlier.
At the 4-week mark, it was that quality of life plus well-being scores were much higher and the severity of bloating had decreased but only in the group that had taken the real probiotics versus the placebo capsules.
To further confirm that the L. Acidophilus & B. Lactis probiotic bacteria had made a difference in the microbiome, polymerase chain reaction samples were taken on stool samples before the trial starting and after which showed a change in the microbiome.
The best probiotic strains for bloating according to studies are Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifidobacterium Lactis, Bifidobacterium Infantis, Lactobacillus Plantarum, and Bacillus Coagulans.
How Long Does it Take for Probiotics to Help With Bloating?
In the University of North Carolina study, it was concluded that it took around 30-days for the probiotics to help with bloating in the probiotic group versus to placebo group.
Constipated individuals who had bloating took Bifidobacterium Lactis NH019 in a second placebo study from Finland and it was found that at a similar time frame of 28-days was how long it took for improvements to be found.
Whilst these two studies seem to indicate 1-month for probiotics to help with bloating you should also take note that other factors like a person's current gut health, medications, daily diet and cause for bloating can all influence this time frame.
Can Probiotics Cause Bloating & Gas?
Probiotics can lead to increased gas & bloating which sounds like it would be slightly counterintuitive to take probiotics for decreasing bloating.
This bloat usually passes after a couple of weeks and is a normal reaction to introducing billions of new probiotic bacteria into your microbiome.
This is a sign that the probiotic bacteria are working and after that initial bloating, is when the full benefits start to kick in for most people.
Other Tips To Help With Bloating
Taking probiotics may not work for everyone depending on lifestyle factors so to give probiotics the best chance of helping with bloating it's important to make sure that you do the following.
Once you start following these tips, you can then introduce a probiotic with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium into your diet. I recommend taking a probiotic capsule 1 - 2 hours before meals and doing this for at least 30-days.
What Causes Bloating?
Generally speaking, bloating is caused by a build of gas in your stomach but there is no one size cause for this build-up of gas that leads to bloating since there are multiple potential factors. It's also possible to have multiple causes for your bloating making it more severe.
I'll go through 6 of the most common causes of bloating including dietary causes like swallowing air, and fizzy drinks which usually cause temporary bloating to more severe bloating caused by constipation from bad gut health.
This may require you to visit your doctor for a medical check-up if it's also accompanied by things like nausea. If your bloating is caused by the bacteria in your gut, certain probiotic strains may help. I am not a Doctor.
Stress & Anxiety
I wrote a blog post previously about how stress can trigger IBS flare-ups because of the gut & brain axis.
The gut and brain are connected through the vagus nerve and the gut can send signals directly to the brain with the brain also sending signals back to the gut.
Stress can activate this gut/brain connection upsetting the neurotransmitter balance and leading to bloating.
When you are stressed this can impact the digestive tract function making the process of breaking down food difficult thus leading to bloating because of the undigested food.
For others though, stress can have different effects on digestion by speeding the process up leading to Diarrhea or IBS.
Dysbiosis is best described as an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut with the bad bacteria winning the battle and overcrowding the good bacteria.
It can be diagnosed via a stool test but some tell signs include fatigue, acid reflux, psoriasis, general inflammation, allergies, and of course bloating.
It's known exactly why bloating occurs in cases of Dysbiosis but it is thought to be down to what type of bacteria is disrupted in your gut with Clostridia and Enterobacteriaceae being more prone to causing gas-related bloating.
Restoring the microbiome with probiotic bacteria can in most cases get rid of the bloating in a couple of weeks but many people may have Dysbiosis without even knowing it.
According to Healthline, up to 20% of the world's population may have a food intolerance but this number could be higher as many people live their lives without realizing the foods they eat are causing things like bloating.
Food allergies can be diagnosed with a skin-prick test or with a blood immunoglobulin E test.
People can be allergic to a whole range of foods but dairy, gluten, and sugar are the most common offenders for producing gas that gets trapped in your gastrointestinal tract leading to bloating.
Some people may also experience acid reflux, runny nose, or migraines. Probiotics may not help in this case and a better solution would be to just cut out the trigger food from your diet.
If you do some research on vegan Reddit you will see threads like "constantly bloated" where vegans often complain about having a bloated stomach.
Vegan diets often contain large amounts of beans, vegetables, and pulses which are high in fiber and this is thought to be the cause behind vegan bloating.
This fiber may also help produce Butyrate a beneficial short-chain fatty acid that is produced from fermenting fiber.
New vegans may not have enough digestive enzymes to these new high-fiber vegetables introduced into their daily diet and this can lead to flatulence, and gas builds eventually making them bloated.
Vegan diets aren't all that bad though if you can get the bloating under control since they are high in prebiotic fibers leading to the production of butyrate which may help with things like leaky gut syndrome.
SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth which is similar to Dysbiosis but instead of the gut, the imbalance of bacteria occurs in the small intestine which is where it shouldn't be.
According to research, conditions like IBS are closely related to SIBO, and bloating is a big symptom of SIBO because of how the bacteria in the small intestine eat undigested food that hasn't yet reached your large intestine.
Taking a lactulose hydrogen breath will help you figure out if you have SIBO. Probiotics won't be that helpful with SIBO and most doctors will prescribe Antibiotics to kill off the bad bacteria in your small intestine.
Taking probiotics after a course of antibiotics is however advised to help rebuild your microbiome and avoid Dysbiosis which ultimately could lead once again to bloating.
Constipation is defined as a difficulty in emptying one's bowels and chronic constipation can be diagnosed as having less than 3 bowel movements per week with hardened stools and increased difficulty in trying to force out your poop.
It's the relationship to got bloating occurs when the feces spend more time in the colon than usual allowing gut bacteria to ferment what is there leading to an increase in gas which leads to the bloating in your stomach.
Constipation can also eventually lead to SIBO because of this build of bacteria in the colon so it's important to drink plenty of water, increase fiber in your diet and look into what probiotic strains have been studied to help with constipation.
Once your constipation is fixed, you may notice that your bloating ease off because your colons are empty enough to starve off the bad bacteria.
Closing Thoughts: Find The Cause of Your Bloat!
If you have to bloat you should visit your Doctor so that they can physically examine you and rule out any serious conditions.
Once you have your cause of bloating, fixing the issue becomes a lot easier.
For some people cutting out something like dairy or gluten may fix their bloating within weeks.
Others, they may need to take probiotic bacteria to fix an imbalance in their gut bacteria.
It's important to have regular bowel movements and probiotics with prebiotic fiber may help with this.