Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some Bacteria Can Be Good For Your Stomach And Digestion

(StatePoint) Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders. The condition, with symptoms including abdominal pain, constipation and/or diarrhea, affects up to one in five Americans and is second only to the common cold as a leading cause of workplace absenteeism in the U.S.

IBS costs the U.S. healthcare system up to an estimated $20 to 25 billion annually in direct and indirect costs. Beyond the physical effects, IBS sufferers can feel embarrassed by unpredictable symptoms and be forced to limit social activities.

Although IBS affects so many people, the causes of the condition are still unclear. There are many theories on what causes IBS -- including an altered immune response or an imbalance of bacteria in the gut.

Dr. Lin Chang, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Digestive Diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Co-Director of the UCLA Center for Neurobiology of Stress suggests the following for people who are experiencing recurring abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation:

* Talk to a Professional: A medical professional can review symptoms, make a diagnosis and help establish a plan of action. There are prescription and over-the-counter therapies that can help minimize the symptoms of IBS.

* Keep a Log: For some people, certain foods, stress, infection, and hormonal changes can trigger IBS symptoms. Keeping a diary of foods and activities is a good way to track potential triggers, identify ways to avoid these triggers, or be able to better manage potential symptoms.

* Do Research: There is a wealth of information on the Internet about IBS, other people's experiences and treatments. Stick to credible Web sites and well-known manufacturers when researching products. Bookstores and libraries can also be good resources.

* Consider Probiotics: One area of growing interest in managing IBS is probiotics, beneficial bacteria that aid digestion while strengthening the body's natural defenses and supporting a balance of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Not all probiotic strains are the same, and many probiotic products that tout health benefits are not clinically proven to be effective. Strain, packaging, and manufacturing can all impact the effectiveness of a probiotic.

One probiotic that has promising clinical data in IBS is Bifantis (Bifidobacterium infantis 35624). Bifantis is a unique, patented probiotic strain known to be isolated from a healthy human colon and has clinically demonstrated that, when taken regularly, it can help promote digestive health. Key clinical trials published in "Gastroenterology" and the "American Journal of Gastroenterology" found that Bifantis led to an improvement in the cardinal symptoms of IBS including abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. In addition, Bifantis was the only probiotic cited in a recent "New England Journal of Medicine" article to help with bloating and IBS.

"It's really important that people realize that they don't just have to live with IBS. This condition can be effectively and successfully managed," says Dr. Chang.

For guidelines on how to pick a clinically proven probiotic, please visit the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics Web site at: www.ISAPP.net. For more information on Bifantis and probiotics visit www.bifantis.com. For more information about IBS, visit www.iffgd.org.

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