Can Yogurt Help Alleviate Pain Associated with IBS?
April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness month, and nutritional and medical experts are working to raise the public’s knowledge on how to diagnose and treat this digestive disorder, which affects approximately 45 million people. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a problem that affects the large intestine.
While no medical cure for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) has been discovered, a diet that reduces pain from inflammation and bloating can be an important management technique for IBS sufferers.
IBS is one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders, with as many as one in five Americans suffering from its symptoms, which include chronic abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Nutrition experts and medical doctors both agree that certain foods may alleviate much of the pain associated with IBS. However, there is a lot of controversy as to whether yogurt can help alleviate pain associated with IBS.
Can yogurt help alleviate pain associated with IBS?
Yogurt is a probiotic, a food containing live microorganisms that can benefit health, and is rich in the bacteria “Lactobacillus”, which may ease IBS symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, some research has shown that probiotics like yogurt can decrease gas, pain and bloating associated with IBS, and may also help with diarrhea and constipation.
Research is difficult because there are many strains of probiotics, and preparations and doses vary. Lactobacilli alone apparently don’t relieve IBS symptoms, but certain combination products help. Bifid bacteria, another kind of intestinal flora, may also be effective.
In yogurt the process of growth from milk into yogurt involves the conversion of lactose into lactic acid by fermentation. Lactic acid helps digest lactose. In other words, yoghurt provides the enzyme needed to digest milk products, which are often trigger foods for IBS pain. Fermentation not only preserves nutrients, it breaks them down into more easily digestible forms. Milk is difficult for many people to digest. Lactobacilli (a type of bacteria present in fermented dairy products and many other types of ferments) transform lactose, the milk sugar that so many humans cannot tolerate, into easier-to-digest lactic acid.
Conclusion: New studies, including some financed by DANONE yogurt, show that probiotic bacteria can help alleviate pain associated with IBS. Fermented foods, such as yogurt and sauerkraut are known to contain these beneficial bacteria. Therefore, IBS sufferers, even those sensitive to dairy products, should try eating a small amount of yogurt to see if it reduces intestinal bloating, gas and pain. However, it is important to make sure the yogurt contains the probiotics it claims and does not contain added sugars.