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Probiotics are one of the biggest fads in health right now. You can’t walk down the yogurt aisles of your supermarket without seeing dozens of brands of yogurt advertising that they contain probiotics.

 Probiotics have been shown to be helpful in treating IBS. But before you jump on the probiotics bandwagon and start taking probiotic supplements for your IBS, be warned that there is still a lot of research which needs to be done.

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” We normally think of probiotic organisms living in the gut, but they are also found in other parts of the body such as the our skin, vagina, and mouth.

Prebiotics are basically food for probiotics. Many probiotic supplements will also contain a prebiotic in order to help the probiotic grow and colonize the gut. Humans can’t digest prebiotics. Some examples of prebiotics are oligosaccharides and inulin. These can be found in foods like onions, leeks, and asparagus.

There have only been a limited number of tests on probiotics for IBS, and these tests were often very small and biased. So, if want to use probiotics for your IBS, you will basically be turning yourself into a guinea pig.   The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) recommends that you keep track of your symptoms while taking a probiotic to see if it is right for you. They also warn that you shouldn’t expect any immediate benefits. It can take weeks for the probiotics to start showing benefits. If your symptoms get worse on a probiotic, you should stop taking it right away.