Review on April 13, 2009
Bloating, a word nobody wants to use to describe their physical state of being. Yet bloating is inevitable for various reasons, affecting women more often than men for hormonal reasons, particularly around menopause or during the menstrual cycle. Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is another common cause of bloating. An estimated 1 in 5 women is afflicted with IBS. Additionally, certain foods, such as spicy, fizzy, or acidic dishes tend to aggravate bloating.
In the case of those women suffering from bloating caused by IBS, oftentimes the reason for this is bacterial. Harmful bacteria build in the intestinal tract and cause uncomfortable symptoms such as dermatitis, bloating, and diarrhea. In these cases, studies have shown that the introduction of probiotics into the system helps fight off the "bad" bacteria causing these digestive problems. Probiotics are live microorganisms introduced into a person's system that counteract the negative effects of the other bacteria already living inside the person.
In recent studies, probiotics have been found to be especially effective when it comes to bloating, with up to 72% of women reporting a decrease in their bloating symptoms after running a course of probiotics. In addition, occurrence of diarrhea was reduced by 32%. Fortunately, with advances in medicine, it is easy to get a daily dose of bloat-fighting probiotics in such products as yogurt or other dairy products. This relief is also available in pill, powder, or liquid form. These studies found that adverse affects existed, though seemed to be contained mostly to mild flatulence.
Research into the exact mechanism of this effect however, or how to regulate which probiotics are better than others, is still being conducted. At this point scientists have only found inconclusive results, despite the media hype of the probiotic phenomenon. More studies are necessary to find a cure-all for bloating, but in the meantime probiotics give hope for relief.
- Barclay, Laurie. "Benefits of Probiotics Reviewed," Medscape Journal, November 2008.
- Mackey, Serena. "Bacterial Bloat," Aphrodite Women's Health Network, August 2006.