Does Eating Yogurt Help Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a disorder that affects the large intestine, also referred to as the colon. According to the Mayo Clinic, 35 to 50 percent of those affected by IBS are under the age of 35, and twice as many women as men struggle with IBS. While the exact cause of IBS is not known, identifying possible causes and looking for remedies to include in your everyday life can help to relieve some of the uncomfortable symptoms of IBS. You should always consult with your physician if you think you have IBS.

A bowl of plain yogurt with a spoon on linen. (Image: Elena Elisseeva/iStock/Getty Images)

Possible Causes

IBS occurs when the muscles that line the small intestine do not contract and relax in a coordinated, smooth manner; the contractions are often longer and stronger than normal. Doctors believe that abnormalities in the nervous system or colon may be to blame with IBS, which can cause stools in the body to become hard and dry as food digestion slows. If you have IBS, certain triggers will cause discomfort for you that others without this disorder would have no issues with.

Symptoms

IBS symptoms vary depending on the individual, but common symptoms reported by the Mayo Clinic include bloating, abdominal cramping, excess gas, mucous in the stool and diarrhea or constipation. Some people experience mild symptoms of IBS, but one in five Americans who have IBS do not seek medical help, which could provide solutions to relieve symptoms, and also determine if there are any other serious conditions involved such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

Yogurt and IBS

New research published in "Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics" found that belly distention was reduced by up to 78 percent in 34 women who consumed a probiotic yogurt for four weeks containing the specific bacteria bifidobacterium lactis DN- 173 010 strain, a bacteria that promotes stomach health and is being used in many of the yogurt brands currently on the market. The research also proved that gastrointestinal transit time was improved, and according to the diaries that each of the women kept during the study, overall discomfort including abdominal pain and cramping was greatly reduced.

Bifidobacterium Lactis DN-173 010

Researchers who conducted the above study at the University Hospital of South Manchester note that the benefit of the yogurt came from consuming yogurt that was enriched with the specific strand of Bifidobacterium strand DN-173 010, which through recent marketing and popularity from name brand yogurts has been coined Bifidus actiregularis. Researchers of this study feel that this is an important demonstration for medical practitioners to begin looking at this particular strand of bacteria used in yogurt has a lifestyle remedy to help alleviate symptoms of IBS.

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