On television and the internet, we often hear a fancy word called Probiotics. Everyone from the skin-care industry to renowned physicians claims the enormous health benefits these probiotics provide. However, the majority of people don’t really know what probiotics are. So, if you are thinking, do probiotics help with bloating or not, we have all the answers for you.
Probiotics are defined as a composite of live good bacteria and yeast that have health benefits for the human body. Our body is not sterile. In fact, it is host to countless microbes, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa & viruses, which are all collectively referred to as our microbiome.
These are good microbes that assist our body in functioning normally. When suffering from a disease, bad bacteria take over the good ones, and the balance of the body is thrown away. Probiotics aid in restoring and maintaining the balance of good bacteria in our microbiome. There are recurrent claims of probiotics alleviating gastrointestinal ailments, but the question arises do probiotics help with bloating or not.
What is Bloating?
Bloating is a clinical condition characterized by a sensation of fullness and discomfort in the upper part of the abdomen due to excessive accumulation of gas. It may also be accompanied by a palpable swelling of the belly called Abdominal Distension.
Our gastrointestinal tract normally passes the gases either via burping or flatulence. Bloating may be caused by the ineffectiveness of the gastrointestinal tract in passing the gas.
About half of the gas in our digestive system comes from the air we swallow. The rest is formed by the fermenting bacteria in the large intestine.
Causes of Bloating
Constipation is the biggest cause of bloating and gas. When food is not digested completely by the intestines, the bacteria in our colon cause fermentation of the undigested carbohydrates in the food. This fermentation produces gas as a by-product that causes flatulence and bloating.
Some people lack lactase, an enzyme crucial for the breakdown of lactose sugar found in dairy products. In these individuals, consumption of milk, cheese, and ice cream may cause abdominal bloating and gas.
An increase in the natural bacterial flora can cause excessive gas and bloating.
Excessive consumption of carbonated drinks increases the gas content in the body leading to bloating.
Smokers swallow excess air with each cigarette they smoke which leads to an accumulation of air in the stomach and intestines.
Whole grains are amazing for your health because of their high fiber content. However, a sudden increase in fiber content in your diet may cause gas because fiber is also a form of carbohydrates that do not get digested in the body.
Chewing gum and drinking through a straw may also cause excessive swallowing of air.
Sometimes debilitated muscles and mobility of the digestive system cause retention of gases in the stomach.
Talking while eating causes increased swallowing of air leading to gas.
How to Treat Bloating?
The best way to treat bloating is by changing your diet and lifestyle. Avoid eating foods that cause excessive gas production in the digestive system. Reduce your dairy consumption if you are lactose intolerant. Quit carbonated drinks and other substances that contain gases. Exercise has a proven role in alleviating bloating and other digestive system disorders.
Do Probiotics Help With Bloating?
According to some research, probiotics may help with bloating and other gut-related troubles. These probiotics are actually good bacteria and yeast that reinforce naturally occurring good microbes in our intestine in order to ensure normal functioning of the intestine.
They help in breaking down the fiber content of the meal, thus making more nutrients available for digestion by gut enzymes and aiding the process of digestion. Plus, they produce short-chain fatty acids in the process, which in part regulate the metabolism, appetite, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
Taking probiotics becomes more crucial after recovering from a disease. This is because, during sickness, our natural microbiome gets disturbed by invasion from foreign microbes and the use of antibiotics to kill those bacteria. Good gut bacteria are killed as collateral damage during the war between bad bacteria and antibiotics. Hence, the probiotic supplements assist in the restoration of our good gut bacteria after recovering from a disease.
Side-Effects of Probiotics
Probiotics are usually presumed safe to consume. However, that is not the case every time. Each of our bodies has a discernable microbiome that is not identical to any other individual in the world. That is why it is difficult to choose which probiotic supplement will work better for each individual.
In some cases, these probiotics can even cause bacteria-host interactions, which can bring havoc on your digestive system and may even rarely prove fatal. Here are some cases in which probiotics can be dangerous:
In individuals having gut sensitivity caused by Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), probiotics can do more harm than good.
If you have recently had surgery, you should avoid taking probiotics because they may cause infection.
Immuno-compromised patients, such as those who have HIV, should strictly refrain from taking probiotics because of the strong risk of infection.
Newborns and infants should never be given probiotics because it will cause bacteria-host interaction, leading to severe diarrhea and other complications.
Probiotics may even cause bloating and gas instead of curing it during the first few days of its administration. After some time, the body may get acclimatized to it.
Probiotics may cause unwanted results in some individuals, such as antibody resistance and harmful by-products.
How to Take Probiotics?
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics. These include yogurt, sourdough bread, pickles, kefir, and some cheeses.
It is important to note that individuals with lactose intolerance should avoid the consumption of yogurt and cheeses because it will aggravate bloating.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are also a source of probiotic microbes.
Several probiotic supplement drinks are available on the market, which can be an excellent source of probiotics. The most beneficial classes of probiotics are:
Both of these bacteria have hundreds of different species and strains, all of which work as probiotics. That is why it is difficult to decide which probiotic supplement will work best for your body.
Each of our bodies has a unique set of microbes living in and on it that make our microbiome. Probiotics can assist our body in maintaining that balance, but the choice of which probiotic to be used must be made very carefully. A smart and well-targeted probiotic supplement can not only relieve bloating and gastric discomfort but also improve your overall health. However, you should have a thorough discussion with your physician before trying a new supplement to ensure your safety and good health.