Is There a Link Between Bloating and Probiotics?

Probiotics can both cause and alleviate bloating.
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Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract contains a variety of bacteria. Some help maintain normal function of your intestines; others may induce infection or inflammation that cause bloating. If you feel gaseous, eating foods that offer the best probiotic for bloating can help balance the bacteria and relieve any discomfort.

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Taking probiotics has many health benefits, but it’s a double-edged sword when it comes to bloating. The beneficial microbiota in probiotics can balance the bacteria in your gut and help reduce gas, but these changes can also cause temporary bloating.

Balance Healthy Gut Bacteria

A multitude of bacteria and other microorganisms that reside in your gut make up a huge complex ecosystem where nutrients and host cells interact to keep your gastrointestinal tract functioning properly. These gut microbiota help digest food, destroy disease-carrying cells and produce vitamins, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

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Unbalanced gut microbiome is one of the major reasons for most digestive issues such as bloating, cramping, intestinal gas and stomach inflammation, says the Probiotics Council. Bacterial balance in the gut can be disrupted due to factors such as chronic illness, poor diet, stress or medication.

Many diseases have been associated with the impairment of gut microbiota, according to a report in the Médecine et Maladies Infectieuses published in January 2014. Some foods contain functional components, called probiotics, that contribute to the health of the internal flora of your gut and may help stimulate the growth and activity of desired microorganisms.

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What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are living cultures that are similar to the natural beneficial bacteria in your gut. They can help repopulate and balance your gut flora and may contribute to boosting your immunity and overall health. Probiotics are available as a dietary supplement, but fermented foods in their natural form are the best probiotics for gas and other abdominal discomforts.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends including the following probiotic foods in your diet:

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  • Yogurt
  • Kefir products
  • Aged cheeses containing live cultures such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli
  • Fermented non-dairy food with live cultures, including sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, kimchi, tempeh and cultured non-dairy yogurts.

Read more: 10 Best Probiotic Foods to Give Your Gut a Health Boost

Harvard Health Publishing says there is no recommended daily intake for probiotics, so it's best to tailor the kind and amount of food you eat according to your individual needs. They suggest yogurt to be the best probiotic for bloating and digestive upsets because of its appealing flavor and texture.

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Look for the words "live and active cultures" on the label because the amount and strain of bacteria species can vary depending on the yogurt brand and can range from 90 billion to 500 billion CFU (colony-forming units) per serving, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

The Best Probiotic for Bloating

There are many reasons you might experience abdominal discomfort and feel bloated. Bloating can be described as the sensation of a distended abdomen and excessive gas. Certain inflammatory conditions, food sensitivities, gastritis, colitis, constipation and IBS can contribute to bloating, reports an article published in October 2014 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. Or eating gas-producing foods, such as beans, cabbage, garlic and onions, may throw your bacteria off balance and cause bloating.

Consuming probiotics may help get your GI system back on track and eliminate bloating. According to the NCCIH, probiotics can help your body maintain a healthy community of microorganisms and rebalance your body's microorganisms after being disturbed or altered. In addition, probiotics produce substances that can influence your body's immune response.

Adding probiotic-containing foods to your diet can affect your body in a variety of ways depending on the kind of microorganisms they contain. Each of the different strains of bacteria in probiotics has a specialized role in benefiting your gut health and preventing illness.

According to the Probiotics Council, the strains belonging to the groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have both been associated with being the best probiotic for bloating. Other bacteria can also be contained in probiotics, including certain yeasts, according to NCCIH.

Read More: The Best-Rated Probiotics

Side Effects of Probiotics

Probiotics are generally safe to include in your diet unless you suffer from allergies or are currently ill. Despite the beneficial effects of choosing the best probiotics for bloating and improving the bacterial environment in your gut, you may experience some temporary probiotics detox symptoms as your body replaces the bad bacteria with good microorganisms.

In addition to bloating, side effects may include gas, diarrhea, cramps, rashes and acne but the Probiotics Council says these temporary symptoms may signify your gut health is improving. This is because probiotics initiate a change in your gut environment.

Probiotics in the form of a supplement or from food targets harmful microorganisms in the lower part of your GI tract, causing them to die. The removal of this waste and toxins creates gas. Increased gas may make your stomach feel like a balloon. The output of gas is achieved by belching, absorption into the blood, bacterial consumption and anal evacuation, according to the 2014 World of Gastroenterology study.

Do not expect immediate changes. Probiotics for bloating are slow acting and you may not see immediate results. More is not always better and it's important to introduce fermented foods or probiotic supplements slowly. In the first few days, bloating might actually increase until your body adjusts.

Read more: Probiotics on an Empty Stomach

If you're considering eating probiotic foods or adding a probiotic supplement to your diet, consult with your doctor first. This is particularly important if you have health problems or a serious underlying condition that requires medication.

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