The Best Probiotics for IBS Sufferers

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)


IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a common problem in many individuals, lasting on a long-term basis affecting the digestive system. Characterised by occasions of stomach cramping, diarrhea, constipation and bloating. Symptoms of ibs can vary from individual to individual, however they are usually unpleasant and can make everyday life difficult.

Irritable bowel syndrome is thought to affect at least one in five people throughout some point in their lives, most likely occurring between the ages of 20 and 30 years of age. Furthermore, women are twice as likely to fall victim to the syndrome in comparison to men. Irritable bowel syndrome is a lifelong condition, although it may ease in severity after several years of having the syndrome.

If you believe you have or are suffering from symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome it is best to visit your local healthcare provider in order to be diagnosed professionally. Blood tests may need to be taken in order to rule out other issues and causes. The doctor should also be able to help you treat and manage the condition, there may be not cure for ibs however it’s symptoms can be dealt with by making simple changes. Some ways of managing ibs include:
  • Identify foods and drinks that may trigger your symptoms and begin to avoid consuming these in the future
  • Exercise regularly
  • Change the amount of fibre that you include within your diet
  • Try to stay calm and reduce your stress levels, this is due to stress being an exacerbating factor for ibs

In some cases medication may also be prescribed.

Living with the condition can be unpredictable at times. You may go for months without suffering from any symptoms or incidents and then suddenly have a bad flare-up. Not only can the condition be both very painful and debilitating, it can also have a rather negative effect on your mental state and health. Those that suffer with ibs are more likely to experience feelings of anger, stress, anxiety and depression at some point in time due to their condition. If you are suffering from low mood as a result of ibs it is wise to contact your doctor as these feeling rarely go away without help or proper treatment, especially as the cause of these feelings is a long-term or lifelong condition.

If you are unsure and think you may have ibs, common symptoms of the condition are:

  • Abdominal cramping and strong stomach pains, usually relieved by going to the toilet for a poo
  • A change in your bowel habits such as constipation, regular diarrhea or perhaps even both
  • Swelling of the abdomen and bloating
  • Commonly suffering from flatulence
  • Experiencing urgent needs to go to the toilet
  • Feeling as those you have no fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet
  • Passing a mucus from the bottom
  • Lack of energy/ lethargy
  • Feeling sick or nauseous
  • Backache
  • Bladder issues such as experiencing sudden need to urinate, or feeling as those you have not fully emptied your bladder after urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Incontinence

So, if you’re suffering from ibs and are looking to help treat your symptoms easily at home, perhaps probiotics may be the way forward for you. Probiotics are live bacteria or yeasts which have various health benefits when consuming, including helping to relieve ibs symptoms and improving the natural balance of bacteria within your gut. They may not work for every sufferer, but if you’re open to trying something new what have you got to lose!

How it works

Taking probiotic supplements or foods will increase the number of friendly bacteria within your large intestine and is thus thought to reduce the severity of ibs. Probiotics may cause these effects when taken by ibs sufferers:

  • Destroying small intestine bacterial overgrowth
  • Strengthen the lining of the intestines
  • Reduces number of unfriendly and harmful bacterias
  • Normalizes motility
  • Lowers visceral hypersensitivity

By taking a singular probiotic for a period of roughly 4 weeks you should have some idea on it’s effects upon you symptoms. If within this time period you have noticed no changes or improvements you should move onto another, however if your symptoms seems to reduce or improve it may be worthwhile to incorporate this particular probiotic into your everyday diet in some way. Symptoms that are commonly improved by using probiotics are bloating, flatulence, cramping and hopefully a more ‘normal’ bowel movements frequency.

So, without further ado…

Here are the best probiotics for ibs sufferers and their symptoms.

This means that the probiotic is a mixture of different individual strains


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VSL#3 is what is known as a ‘multistrain probiotic’. This means that the probiotic is a mixture of different individual strains, which in this case is around 8 different varies mixed together. This supplement has been well tested in clinical trials and shows very promising effects upon ibs sufferers and their symptoms, mostly targeting all abdominal pain and gas.

VSL#3 is available as a medical food, which should only be eaten under the guidance of your physician. Try inquiring next time you visit them for further details.

Lactobacillus Plantarum 299v

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This particular probiotic is known for three main things which include:

  • Improving your overall digestion and workings of the digestive tract
  • Increases your overall immunity
  • Improves overall health in a variety of ways.
  1. Plantarum actually produces it’s own antibiotics when consumed, intelligently targeting any bad bacteria within the digestive tract. Furthermore, this probiotic also creates the essential amino acid lysine which can also help to prevent the development of cold sores. Many individuals within clinical trials have reported a significant improvement in their IBS symptoms after regularly using L. Plantarum, notably a decrease in flatulence, making this probiotic a worthwhile endeavor for sufferers.

Other health benefits are as follows:

  • Fights burn infections when used topically
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Decreases severity or likelihood of getting the flu or a cold
  • Fights fungal infections
  • Helps to accelerate the healing of burns
  • Reduces the risk of suffering from pneumonia
  • Decreases inflammatory responses
  • Lowers the consumer’s risk of kidney stones
  • Reduces the consumer’s high blood pressure.

You can buy this supplement on Amazon, here.

ProBiota Bifido

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I won’t spend too long talking about this particular probiotic however, the effects of this probiotics have been shown to improve symptoms such as pain, bloating, discomfort and distention in 57% of those who took part in the clinical trials.

Bifidobacterium Infantis 35624

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In 2006 a study conducted using B. Infantis was conducted on 362 female participants, altering their dosages to see which would have the best effect upon IBS symptoms. With the correct dosage many reported reductions in symptoms and the severity of their condition, particularly in those who suffered from regular bouts of diarrhea.

You can purchase B.Infantis here on Amazon.


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This probiotic is also a multistrain (thus includes multiple strains of probiotics, as previously mentioned within the article) all of which should help to treat symptoms of IBS.  This particular probiotic mixture can be found in the supplement Pharmex.

What should you do if you suffer from side effects as a result of taking probiotics?

One way of reducing any side effects you may begin to suffer from when taking a new probiotic is to lower the dosage. For example, if you were previously taking two probiotic supplements per day reduce this to just one per day. By giving your body time to adjust to the amount it is being given the side effects should disappear, allowing you to once again increase (although do so slowly and carefully) how much you are taking again per day.

By staying hydrated and drinking water regularly, this should help with any side effects such as diarrhea, acne, rashes and gas. All these side effects can be exacerbated or caused by detoxifying your body, so keep hydrated to flush them out all the more faster!

Give your body time to adjust. As previously mentioned, it could take up to 4 weeks for your body to adjust and make the proper use of the probiotics you are now giving it. Symptoms may for a short while get worse within this time, however this should even out and then begin to improve. If not however, move onto a different probiotic or simply try another method for treating your ibs. Remember, it is important to try at least a few different probiotics to find the one that works for you, by giving up straight away on the idea you could really be missing out.

Foods that are high in probiotics, which may in turn help to aid with the treatment of various IBS symptoms.


One of the best and most well-known sources of probiotics in food comes from live cultured yogurt. Yogurts which include goat’s milk are some of the best to choose as they will have been infused with extra probiotics such as bifidus, thermophilus and acidophilus. Be sure to buy a healthy brand of yogurt, so always remember to check the labels before purchasing!


This dairy product is the result of fermenting goats milk and kefir grains, creating a food that is high in both probiotics (i.e. lactobacillus and bifidus) as well as antioxidants.


Sauerkraut is made mostly from fermented cabbage, this may not sound like the most tastiest of food but we assure you it is! Alongside tasting great, sauerkraut is packed full of healthy live cultures and vitamins A, E, B and C.

Dark chocolate.

Treat yourself to a few squares of luxury dark chocolate, knowing that not only does it taste good but it also provides your body with up to 4 times the amount of probiotics that most dairy products contain.

Miso soup.

Miso soup contains many live cultures, is extremely nutrition dense and is believed to stop the effects of carcinogens within the body. So, what’s the harm in trying this tasty soup?


Green pickles are an excellent food source for probiotics.


Tempeh is a fermented grain made from soybeans which so happens to be probiotic rich, as well as a fantastic substitute for meat and dairy products. This vegan food is also a high source of vitamin B12 and is very low in salt -helping to avoid further bloating.

Traditional buttermilk

Traditional buttermilk is created simply from using the leftovers of making milk, and contains various probiotics that are great for your body and digestive health. Buttermilk is also low in fat, calories and high in vitamin B12, calcium and riboflavin (vitamin B2).

Things to avoid when suffering from ibs.

Reduce caffeine intake.

Caffeine can stimulate activity within the colon, and for many with the illness act as a diarrhea trigger. Excessive consumption of caffeine can worsen various symptoms such as pain, bloating and bladder issues. Therefore if coffee, coca cola or various other caffeine rich drinks are heavily incorporated into your diet you may want to limit your future intake.

Limit both alcohol and fizzy drink consumption

Fizzy drinks and alcohol can both also worsen the symptoms of diarrhea, thus limiting your intake may prevent this symptom from occurring or simply reduce the frequency of which it happens.

Reduce intake of resistant starches

Reduce intake of resistant starches

As in the title, these starches are resistant to digestion in the gut and therefore will travel to the colon intact causing them to ferment as a result of exposure to the bacteria present. This produces extra gas and waste products which can cause or increase symptoms such as wind, bloating and diarrhea. By reducing the intake of various resistant starches, such as:

  • Crisps
  • Pizza
  • Biscuits
  • Cakes
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Ready meals
  • Pastries
  • Savoury snacks
  • Sweetcorn
  • Green banana
  • Bran muesli

You can improve your ibs.

High or low fibre foods, depending on your personal situation.

Fibre can be an extremely complicating thing for ibs sufferer. Some individuals with the illness find that their symptoms worsen or become unbearable due to them consuming high-fibre foods and diet, causing them to suffer from diarrhea and intense cramps. On the other hand, many other sufferers find that low-fibre foods and diet can cause them to have strong constipation, gas and pains in the abdomen area. It is recommended that you discover the way in which your ibs works personally and try to avoid foods you know that trigger the syndrome

Limit fatty foods.

Many IBS patients also find that fatty foods can be difficult to digest, some of these foods are:

  • Cakes
  • Biscuits and cookies
  • Chocolates
  • Higher fat dairy products such as full fat milk
  • Mayonnaise and sour creams
  • Butter
  • Creamy pasta sauces
  • Cheese
  • Fatty meats such as sausages  

Reduce consumption of fructose

Fructose can cause diarrhea in some ibs patients, especially when eaten in larger qualities, due to the struggle it has in the ibs sufferer’s body to be absorbed. Fructose may draw water into the bowel triggering a type of diarrhea, or alternatively may ferment within the colon producing excess gases and pains in the abdomen.

If fructose is an issue for you personally try to limit your fruit intake to only one portion per day, and if you can avoid consuming both honey and high fructose corn-syrup.

Final thoughts.

We here at Balance Me Beautiful love hearing from our readers so if you have a particularly good probiotic, food or method in which you treat your ibs feel free to comment below! Hopefully now you have learnt which probiotics are best for ibs sufferers, the foods in which you may be able to find them and what not to do in order to keep symptoms at bay.

As I’m sure you know by now we’re always available to answer any questions and queries you may have, or perhaps you simply want to submit a future article suggestion, if so please do visit our Contact Page.

As always, thanks for reading guys!

By Chess Taylor.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.