8 Reasons Why Prebiotics Help IBS

August 11, 2023 3 min read

8 Reasons Why Prebiotics Help IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects up to 10-15% of the world's population. Symptoms of IBS can include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation. The cause of IBS is still not fully understood, but research has suggested that imbalances in the gut microbiota may play a role. Prebiotic supplements, including HMO prebiotics, have been studied for their potential to help manage IBS symptoms. Here are 8 ways in which prebiotics may help with IBS:

  1. Promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria: Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that are selectively fermented by beneficial bacteria in the gut. By promoting the growth of these beneficial bacteria, prebiotics can help to restore the natural balance of gut microbiota in people with IBS.
  2. Reducing inflammation: Imbalances in gut microbiota can lead to chronic inflammation in the gut, which may contribute to the development of IBS. Prebiotics have been shown to reduce inflammation in the gut, which may help to alleviate IBS symptoms.
  3. Improving gut motility: Prebiotics may also improve gut motility, which can help to reduce symptoms such as constipation and bloating in people with IBS.
  4. Increasing stool frequency: Studies have found that prebiotics, including HMO prebiotics, can increase stool frequency in people with IBS. This may be particularly beneficial for those with IBS-C (constipation-predominant IBS) who experience infrequent bowel movements.
  5. Alleviating abdominal pain: Prebiotics may help to alleviate abdominal pain in people with IBS by reducing inflammation in the gut and improving gut motility.
  6. Improving quality of life: IBS can significantly impact a person's quality of life, and prebiotics may help to improve symptoms and overall well-being in those with IBS.
  7. Reducing gas and bloating: Prebiotics may also help to reduce symptoms such as gas and bloating in people with IBS. This may be due to their ability to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and reduce inflammation in the gut.
  8. Fewer side effects than other treatments: Unlike some other treatments for IBS, such as antibiotics and laxatives, prebiotics are generally well-tolerated and have few side effects.

While the research on prebiotics and IBS is still relatively limited, studies have shown promising results. For example, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that supplementation with a prebiotic mixture improved abdominal pain and bloating in people with IBS compared to placebo. Another study found that supplementation with a specific HMO prebiotic reduced IBS symptoms and improved quality of life in people with IBS-D (diarrhea-predominant IBS).

It's worth noting that not all prebiotics are created equal, and some may be more effective than others for managing IBS symptoms. For example, HMO prebiotics have been shown to be particularly effective due to their unique structure and function.

In conclusion, prebiotic supplements, including HMO prebiotics, may help to manage IBS symptoms by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, reducing inflammation, improving gut motility, and alleviating symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, and bloating.


  1. Roshanravan N, Mahdavinia M, Alizadeh E. Effect of a new synbiotic mixture on atopic dermatitis in children: a randomized-controlled trial. Iran J Pediatr. 2011;21(2):225-230. doi:10.1007/s00726-009-0398-9
  2. Whelan K. Probiotics, prebiotics and the gut microbiome in IBS: a future therapeutic option?. Gut Microbes. 2014;5(5):753-764. doi:10.4161/19490976.2014.972238
  3. Staudacher HM, Whelan K. The low FODMAP diet: recent advances in understanding its mechanisms and efficacy in IBS. Gut. 2017;66(8):1517-1527. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2017-313750
  4. Biesiekierski JR, Peters SL, Newnham ED, Rosella O, Muir JG, Gibson PR. No effects of gluten in patients with self-reported non-celiac gluten sensitivity after dietary reduction of fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates. Gastroenterology. 2013;145(2):320-328.e1-3. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2013.04.051
  5. Chumpitazi BP, Cope JL, Hollister EB, et al. Randomised clinical trial: gut microbiome biomarkers are associated with clinical response to a low FODMAP diet in children with the irritable bowel syndrome. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2015;42(4):418-427. doi:10.1111/apt.13202
  6. Silk DB, Davis A, Vulevic J, Tzortzis G, Gibson GR. Clinical trial: the effects of a trans-galactooligosaccharide prebiotic on faecal microbiota and symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2009;29(5):508-518. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2036.2008.03848.x
  7. Parnell JA, Reimer RA. Prebiotic fiber modulation of the gut microbiota improves risk factors for obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Gut Microbes. 2012;3(1):29-34. doi:10.4161/gmic.19246
  8. Sanz Y. Effects of a gluten-free diet on gut microbiota and immune function in healthy adult human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2010;104(8):S116-S123. doi:10.1017/S0007114510002479

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