Bloating and probiotics often go together. I get many questions about the reasons why some people experience bloating when taking probiotics or consuming fermented foods. Others suffer from bloating and hope that taking probiotics might help solve this.
The question is: do probiotics cause bloating or help lessen it? Though it sounds contradictory, the truth is that probiotics can both cause bloating but also alleviate problems with gas. Please read on!
What is bloating?
Bloating refers to a feeling that your stomach is swollen, full or tight. Bloating might be accompanied by a pain that sometimes can be sharp and mistaken for pain in the appendix, gallbladder or heart. Bloating can be unpleasant and persistent.
There are many causes of bloating or gas. This includes inflammatory conditions, food sensitivity, gastritis or irritable bowel syndrome. In most cases bloating is caused by the production of gas in the gut. Depending on the location of the gas, the level of pain can vary.
Why bloated after consuming probiotics?
Probiotic bacteria are active against harmful microorganisms. Consuming probiotics in the form of a supplement or fermented food, some harmful microorganisms will start to die. This can create gas and a feeling of being bloated. Especially fungi can create much gas in the gut. However, gas production does not happen quickly. When you have your next meal, gas produced from the previous meal is most often the cause of feeling bloated.
Yeast (like candida) is also a common cause of bloating. Therefore, it’s best to start off slowly with probiotics. Try a capsule every second day, or dissolve a capsule in a glass of juice and drink slowly during the day. It can take weeks or even months before some people can increase the dose to one capsule every day.
In any case, bloating or gas is mostly harmless. It might even be a positive sign. Why?
Bloating from probiotics good?
As stated, bloating means that the gut is filling up with gas. With no immediate way to escape gas creates pressure and this causes a sensation that your stomach is swelling up.
Therefore, as unpleasant as bloating might be, it is often a sign that beneficial bacteria are cleaning up the gut. Many studies confirm that consuming friendly bacteria can have a profound health effects.
Bloating after consuming probiotics can happen when the gut environment improves; it’s like a cleansing. How much gas is produced and how long someone will feel bloated can vary a lot. Much depends on which shape the gut is in.
Each gut is unique
Each person is unique and will have a unique response to probiotics. There are many factors determining the state of the gut—genetic make-up, level of stress, eating habits, and so on.
Sometimes bloating can start weeks after consuming probiotics. Why?
This seems to occur because it takes probiotics time to transform the gut environment. Probiotic bacteria lower the pH in the stomach and this is bad for harmful microorganisms that start to die off. And they often die a violent death, causing bloating.
For example, for years I had severe gut problems. And when I started using probiotics I often felt bloated for a long time. However, I continued taking small amounts of fermented foods until the symptoms gradually disappeared. I also used the GAPS approach with daily bone broths and fresh vegetable juice. Gradually, the bloating disappeared. This seems to be a common scenario for people with gut problems.
The violent death of bad bacteria
One reason for bloating is the violent death of microorganisms releasing toxins. Harmful microorganisms colonize the gut in groups scattered in different places. When a group is reached by the effects of probiotics, they start to die. There might also be pockets of resistance, which can be a reason why symptoms come and go for some time until they subside.
Sufferers of candida overgrowth need to follow a stricter protocol.
NOTE: Foods with biogenic amines can cause bloating.
If probiotics cause bloating, try lowering the dose to a level that’s comfortable. Once your gut adapts you can gradually increase the amount.