Probiotics have gotten a lot of hype recently. They’ve been touted as a cure-all for almost any gastrointestinal issue out there. And, I get it. Your gut is your second brain, after all, so it’s perfectly logical to suggest that optimizing your gut health can likely clear up and sort out a lot of your symptoms, gastrointestinal or otherwise.
Two symptoms that have been coming up a lot recently in the women’s health sphere are gas and bloating. Two very common and very frustrating symptoms tend to affect women frequently throughout the month. In fact, I often experience bouts of bloating and gas myself, so I completely understand the frustration and embarrassment that occur because of it.
Based on this, I started to get curious; do probiotics work for gas and bloating? After doing some good old-fashioned research via the web, it became clear that there are varying opinions on the topic and that not every resource out there is putting out the most relevant information.
So, in true FHM fashion, we turned to our experts to get to the bottom of probiotics for gas and bloating; do they work? If so, which ones?
In this article, we spoke with leading experts in the field of gastrointestinal health to uncover the truth about probiotics for bloating and gas. Before we dive into the topic at hand, I would like to thank our expert contributors for sharing their knowledge, experience, and advice with us:
What Causes Gas and Bloating?
There’s no one cause of gas and/or bloating in our gut, rather, there are many contributing factors that can be at play.
Speaking with Sunny Jain, he states that “flatus (commonly referred to as gas) in the intestinal tract is caused by several types of microbes and their end products. These are not just Bacteria, they include a Phyla of organisms called Archaea that may use Hydrogen gas to produce Methane gas – a group of organisms called methanogens. These end products are generated from fermentation happening in our gut. Think of your gut as a long kombucha tank that is constantly brewing and releasing gas. This fermentation is completely normal, and healthy in fact, but sometimes the fermentation can go wrong, and the gut begins to produce too much Hydrogen or too much Methane. This can cause the feeling of bloating and may be due to a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO or SIFO).”
Aside from the scientific nature of bacteria and fermentation in your gut, other common causes of gas and bloating, according to Dr. Jankar include:
- Eating too fast
- Swallowing air while eating or drinking
- Chewing gum
- Drinking carbonated beverages
- Eating foods that are high in fiber
- Eating foods that are difficult to digest, such as fatty or spicy foods
- Lactose intolerance
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Certain medical conditions (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease)
“In many cases, making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can help reduce or eliminate gas and bloating,” says Dr. Jankar.
Do Probiotics Work For Gas and Bloating?
Regardless of what the cause of your uncomfortable gas and bloating symptoms is, the big question is; will taking a probiotic help to get rid of it?
Tayla Burke, the founder of My Girl Wellness, is a big proponent, stating “using the right probiotics, yes! Something many people do not know is that a majority of the probiotics out there on the market cannot actually accomplish what they say they do. Shocking right? This mainly comes down to the quality of probiotics, survivability rate, lack of diversity of strains, and testing. When searching for a reliable probiotic, you always want to look out for one that has a 100% survivability rate (meaning that the bacteria will remain alive by the time it reaches your gut), a diversity of strains to enhance the diversity in your gut microbiota, and clinical & lab studies proving the efficacy of your strains.”
Lastly, different strains have different benefits so I always recommend doing a little research to find the best strains for the issues you’d like to solve. For example, we hand-selected Saccharomyces boulardii and Bacillus subtili as two of our probiotic strains in Gut Goals for their clinically proven benefits to ease IBS symptoms, bloating, constipation, and general stomach discomforts.”
Dr. Jankar took us into the research a bit, citing several important studies that have directly looked at the role probiotics play in gas and bloating. She goes on to explain that “Studies have shown that probiotics may help relieve gas and bloating by reducing the production of gas-forming compounds and improving gut motility (movement).”
“In one study, a combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum was shown to reduce bloating and gas production in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) Another study found that a probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus Plantarum relieved symptoms of gas and bloating in people with IBS, compared to a placebo.”
“The most effective probiotic strains for gas and bloating appear to be those belonging to the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genus. Still, more research is needed to confirm these results”, says Dr. Jankar
Can Probiotics Make Gas and Bloating Worse?
If you’ve ever started a new probiotic before, you might be aware that gastrointestinal upset is a common side effect, at least at first. So what if you start taking a probiotic specifically for bloating and gas? Will it make your symptoms worse?
According to Tayla, “Actually yes, but this is nothing to be concerned about when taking a reliable probiotic. All changes to your gut microbiota (even positive ones) may result in bacteria temporarily causing more gas and bloating than usual. This is a sign your probiotics are actually doing what they are supposed to and side effects should subside in a few days to a week.”
Sunny Jain echos Tayla’s sentiment by adding “Probiotics can absolutely make gas and bloating worse, which is why it is imperative that consumers take the proper strains and a dose tailored to their personal needs. The one-size-fits-all solution has been available for decades and yet the incidence of GI and GI-related symptoms continues to rise. We believe it is because many of these products are ineffective and can potentially even be the cause of gut dysbiosis.”
Speaking with experts in the field, it’s abundantly clear that taking the right probiotic makes all of the difference. And there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, sometimes you will need to do a bit of digging and testing to understand the root cause of your symptoms and then do some trial and error with different strains to see which ones work best for you while giving you the least amount of unwanted side effects.
Who Should Try a Probiotic for Bloating and Gas Symptoms?
While our experts agree that some probiotics might be able to help with your gas and bloating symptoms, they may not be the best choice for everyone, however, taking a probiotic is rarely harmful.
“Probiotics can benefit almost everyone! Adding a probiotic to your daily routine is great for anyone who struggles with low immunity, digestive issues, poor diet, mood imbalances, restless sleep, head fog, low energy levels, or simply wants to support their skin, brain, heart, & full body health,” says Tayla.
Sunny offers some very practical advice for those seeking a probiotic to help with their gastrointestinal issues “consumers who have chronic and uncomfortable gas and bloating may need to look at many solutions for their problem, probiotics being one of the best natural options.”
He adds that “consumers who have only occasional gas and bloating that doesn’t affect their day-to-day life might not need large diet changes or cupboard full of supplements, but a custom probiotic compounded with the ingredients they need to work against the gut ecology causing the discomfort within the day. If you are having an acute issue, we recommend following up with a medical professional before trying a probiotic.”
What Are Some Natural Remedies for Gas and Bloating?
If you’re undecided on whether a probiotic is the right next step for you as you seek relief, keep in mind that you can begin your journey to relief by trying some simple, natural methods that work for many. For many people, the root of their problems lies either in the foods they are eating or the methods in which they are ingesting them, and oftentimes, it’s both.
Give some of the following tips and hacks gut health expert, Tayla Burke shared below a try if you want to do a little self-experimentation before purchasing a probiotic supplement:
- Take your meals seated, limit distractions, and slow down while eating. A lot of the time when you are eating food while multitasking you tend to scarf your food & all of a sudden you look down and it's gone. This causes you to swallow more air, overeat, and ingest food quicker than your digestive process can handle.
- Walk after meals to kick-start your digestion.
- Skip the carbonated beverages- all the fizziness only adds to your problem!
- Slowly add more fiber into your diet to help keep things moving through you.
- Focus on protein, healthy fats, dark leafy greens, and foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics (greek yogurt, fermented foods, kombucha, miso, whole grains, asparagus, bananas, apples, onion, berries, sweet potatoes, garlic) and steer clear of gut triggering foods like artificial sweeteners and fried, fatty & processed foods.
- Do something every day that reduces your stress levels. Most people are shocked to learn the impact stress has on the gut. A stressed mind = a stressed gut leading to inflammation, digestive discomfort, changes in stool, along with a build-up of bloating & gas.
Final Thoughts: Can Probiotics Help With Gas and Bloating?
After speaking with a number of industry experts and examining the research, it’s evident that taking specific probiotics with certain strains present can help to reduce the occurrence of gas and bloating. We put together a list of the best probiotic formulas for bloating and gas so that you can get started aligning with a probiotic that has been proven to reduce bloating and other gastrointestinal issues.
Of course, we never recommend impulse buying any new supplements, so be sure you speak with your doctor about your symptoms and concerns and that you give our natural remedies a try to see if the problem will resolve on its own with a little intentionality and care.
See Our Expert's Picks
on the Top Probiotics for Gas and Bloating!