Eating yogurt is a great way to ease common aches, and pains associated with an upset stomach. But it may not do so for the reasons you think! If your Mom gave you soothing yogurt to eat, or drink as a child when you had a tummy ache it probably helped relieve your symptoms almost immediately. It is not just because yogurt is a dairy beverage with a thick, creamy texture that soothes the sensitive lining of your digestive tract. In fact, many people notice that yogurt is able to relieve all types of stomach pains due to the content of what’s known as probiotics.
You may not realize it, but probiotics are the tiny “live active cultures” that you read about on the label of yogurt containers. These microscopic bacteria are indeed alive, and there are tons of them inside probiotic foods like yogurt. However, yogurt isn’t the only probiotic food you can eat to soothe digestive upset. There are others including kefir, fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi, kombucha tea, miso soup, dark chocolate, and microalgae like spirulina, chlorella, and blue-green algae.
These beneficial probiotic bacteria include strains that you may recognize like bifidobacteria, escherichia coli, and lactobacilli. However, within what scientists are calling the gut “microbiome,” your GI tract contains an estimated 100 trillion different living microbiota.1 Within this giant living ecosystem of microbacteria there are also some very unfriendly species that call your gut “home,” including campylobacter, enterococcus faecalis, and clostridium dificile that may harm your digestive health, and cause symptoms of upset stomach.
When it comes to your digestive health, the World Health Organization along with a large group of academic experts suggests that when consumed, probiotics may offer a variety of benefits to your overall health.2
5 BEST Ways to Boost Your Digestive Health With Probiotics
Beneficial microbacteria found in probiotic foods are often helpful for these 5 common symptoms of digestive upset.
Abdominal bloating is common for both men, and women however, it is especially common for those who also suffer with irritable bowels. When bloating occurs it is a normal reaction to the digestive process. At any time, an average person has 100-200 ccs of gas inside their gastrointestinal tract however, if gas is overproduced, or gets trapped, bloating can occur, and cause a person distress.3
Studies have shown that beneficial strains of probiotic bacteria including Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium lactis are able to relieve bloating severity in just 8 weeks!4
Gas, and pressure with pain.
If you create more gas than the average person, or you tend to have trouble expelling the gas, you may notice that you also have pressure, and/or pain associated with gas. However, probiotics could help!
One study revealed that participants suffering from gas, and bloating, accompanied by abdominal pain, and discomfort reported improvements when they were given Bifidobacterium infantis probiotic strains.5
A follow-up study confirmed the efficacy of the same probiotic strain (B. infantis) on women with irritable bowels. Results of the study revealed that bloating symptoms were significantly better in participants who consumed the probiotic bacteria when compared to placebo. Additionally, the researchers found that participants had less abdominal pain, and discomfort when compared to the control group.6
Regular bowel movements.
Irregularity is one of the most troubling stomach problems that people have today. With the vast majority of people consuming loads of processed foods, and fast-food, items it’s no wonder regular bowel movements are uncommon for most adults.7
This type of digestive upset is thought to be caused by a variety of factors including gut motility, bacterial overgrowth, inflammation, and gastrointestinal hypersensitivity. Researchers have found that this type of stomach upset is aided by the consumption of probiotics.8
One study revealed that this type of gastrointestinal problem is also usually accompanied with bowel changes including diarrhea, and constipation. The probiotic strains that were found to be most helpful for irritable bowels, and the accompanying symptoms include Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus species, and E. coli.9
When it comes to your digestive health, a belly ache can take you right out of the game, and stop you from doing the activities you love. However, research has shown that probiotic bacteria plays an important role in many causes of common stomach problems. One study revealed that probiotics showed a benefit in antibiotic associated diarrhea, infectious diarrhea, swelling of the large intestine, inflamed bowels, and more.10
Probiotics are the friendly little buggers that help take care of your body. So, always remember them as a way to gain these five benefits for your digestive health.
- Luke KUrsell, Jessica L Metcalf. Defining the Human Microbiome.Nutr Rev. 2012 Aug; 70 (Suppl 1): S38–S44.
- Brian E. Lacy, PhD, MD, Scott L. Gabbard, MD. Pathophysiology, Evaluation, and Treatment of Bloating
Hope, Hype, or Hot Air? Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2011 Nov; 7(11): 729–739.
- Ringel-Kulka T,PalssonOS. Probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 versus placebo for the symptoms of bloating in patients with functional bowel disorders: a double-blind study. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2011 Jul; 45(6):518-25.
- O’MahonyL, McCarthy J. Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium in irritable bowel syndrome: symptom responses and relationship to cytokine profiles. Gastroenterology. 2005 Mar; 128(3):541-51.
- WhorwellPJ, Altringer L. Efficacy of an encapsulated probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 in women with irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol. 2006 Jul; 101(7):1581-90.
- Chang Hwan Choi,SaeKyung Chang. Alteration of Gut Microbiota and Efficacy of Probiotics in Functional Constipation. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2015 Jan; 21(1): 4–7.
- George Aragon, MD, Deborah B. Graham, MD. Probiotic Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. GastroenterolHepatol(N Y). 2010 Jan; 6(1): 39–44.
- Beom Jae Lee, Young-Tae Bak. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gut Microbiota and Probiotics. JNeurogastroenterolMotil 2011; 17(3): 252-266.
- 3. Elizabeth C. Verna. Use of probiotics in gastrointestinal disorders: what to recommend?TherapAdv Gastroenterol. 2010 Sep; 3(5): 307–319.