If I asked you what the connection was between the bacteria in your gut and the symptoms of irritable bowel, would you know? Okay, so those of you who’ve spent any time reading my books or listening to my Poop Scoop internet radio show probably would, but something this important is definitely worth repeating—especially during IBS Awareness Month!

The number of bacteria in your gut outnumbers the cells in your body twenty to one, which means these little guys are in control of your health whether you like it or not! So when we talk about a gut bacteria balance, we mean we want to keep the good guys (called probiotics) in control so they can help crowd out the bad bacteria before they can cause problems. Another term for unbalanced gut bacteria is dysbiosis.

And here’s where it gets interesting! In IBS patients, lower amounts have been found of the probiotics Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, but the potentially harmful bacteria like enterobacteriaceae, coliforms and bacteroides have been found in higher amounts. Interestingly, dysbiosis causes many of the same symptoms as IBS, and in fact one form of dysbiosis known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) has been associated with IBS.

So can probiotics help bring balance back to your gut and possibly relieve IBS symptoms such as gas and bloating, occasional constipation and occasional diarrhea? Yes! Keep in mind however that for some people with more sensitive colons, it may be necessary to start with smaller amounts of probiotics, building up to a therapeutic dose gradually to avoid the over-fermentation that may occur.