Irritable bowel syndrome and bloating: Changes to gut microbiota and specific diets to blame?

IBS and bloatingIrritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and bloating may be caused by gut microbiota alterations and specific diets. Researcher Professor Giovanni Barbara said, “Contrary to this view, recent findings suggest that IBS is linked to clearly detectable gut microbiota alterations. Additionally, bloating can be related to specific kinds of diet, thus opening up promising paths towards an efficient disease management.”

IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder affecting 20 percent of the western population. Symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, bowel movement discomfort, and bloating. Bloating has been found to be the most bothersome symptom among IBS patients.


Barbara added, “Thanks to new diagnostic insights and a rapidly growing knowledge about the role and function of the microbial communities living inside our guts, our view on IBS and its causes has changed considerably.” Barbara suggests there is plenty of evidence demonstrating that a gut microbiota imbalance may be responsible for IBS bloating. This means, once the gut balance is back to normal, IBS symptoms could be improved.

“Probably the best example of this interaction is the discovery that IBS symptoms develop in up to 10 percent of previously healthy subjects after a single episode of gastroenteritis caused by an infection through bacterial pathogens like salmonellashighella, or campylobacter, which can severely disrupt the microbiota balance,” Barbara explained.

Another important factor in IBS bloating is nutrition. Foods high in fiber and carbohydrates often produce excess gas. Individuals suffering from IBS may be particularly sensitive to a “flatulogenic” diet rich in gas-producing foods such as broccoli, beans, corn, and cabbage, to name a few.

“On the other hand, we now know for sure that diets containing low fiber content improve these symptoms significantly. Recent research results suggest that, compared to a normal Western diet, a diet low in so-called FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) reduces symptoms of IBS, including bloating, pain, and passage of wind,” Barbara continued.

Barbara concluded, “It is amazing to see how quickly gut microbiota research has gained center stage within gastroenterology in the course of the past few years. This is due to its crucial role, not only for IBS, but for gastrointestinal health in general. In order to further improve diagnosis and treatment, we have to identify more of the various functions of the intestinal bacteria. With regard to clinical applications, bacterial functions are even more important than their types.”

Natural remedies to get rid of IBS bloating

There are several natural remedies IBS patients can utilize for relieving the bloating they may experience. Dietary changes is a crucial step. The biggest offender of IBS bloating is dietary fiber. Fiber-rich foods like beans, cabbage, broccoli, and grains can promote gas. Although minimizing fiber is advised for eliminating gas, fiber is also essential to treat other symptoms related to IBS, so the patient must find alternative sources of fiber that produce less gas.

One trick is to slowly increase your dietary fiber intake. Once you get used to something, you can add a bit more. Fiber supplements may also be beneficial as they produce less gas. Keep in mind, though, when you are dealing with fiber, you should be drinking plenty of water to avoid constipation.


Dairy products have been also shown to contribute to bloating, especially if you are lactose intolerant. Gluten may also aggravate your IBS symptoms causing bloating, so you may wish to try an elimination diet for dairy and gluten, then slowly integrate the food items in question back to see how you react.

You should also be eating smaller, more frequent meals, avoiding constipation, and exercising regularly to combat IBS-induced bloating.

By working with your doctor and possibly a nutritionist, you can find useful ways to relieve you bloating symptoms in IBS.

Author Bio

Mohan Garikiparithi got his degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade before he shifted his focus to the field of health communications. During his active practice he served as the head of the Dept. of Microbiology in a diagnostic centre in India. On a three-year communications program in Germany, Mohan developed a keen interest in German Medicine (Homoeopathy), and other alternative systems of medicine. He now advocates treating different medical conditions without the use of traditional drugs. An ardent squash player, Mohan believes in the importance of fitness and wellness.