Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects the small and large intestines, causing a variety of uncomfortable symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and irregular bowel habits. While there is no definitive cure for IBS, several natural approaches can help prevent its onset or minimize the severity of symptoms.It’s worth calling out that IBS seems to be more prevalent in women. The fluctuation of hormonal levels, especially during menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy, can significantly impact IBS symptoms. So, one of the first things I recommend to women looking to manage their IBS symptoms is to track how they change throughout the menstrual cycle. Some women experience worse symptoms during their periods—so managing stress, maintaining a balanced diet, and staying hydrated (especially before and during menses) can help alleviate symptoms during this time. Your digestive capacity may also become more limited or variable during your period, so it’s important to focus on eating nutrient-dense, easily digestible foods.Women may also experience changes in their digestive health and gut microbiome once they reach menopause. Consuming phytoestrogen-rich foods like soy, flaxseeds, and legumes can help mitigate these hormone-related symptoms.Beyond monitoring gut health during these times of hormonal fluctuation, here are other ways I recommend preventing and managing IBS through dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and stress management.Research has shown that individuals with IBS often have an altered gut microbiota composition, with an imbalance in the ratio of beneficial and harmful bacteria. This dysbiosis can lead to gut inflammation, increased gut permeability, and heightened sensitivity in the intestines—all of which are associated with IBS symptoms.Probiotics work by restoring the balance of the gut microbiota and creating a favorable environment for the growth of beneficial bacteria. Eating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables can help you maintain a healthy gut microbiome, potentially reducing your risk of IBS development.For those already experiencing IBS symptoms, probiotics can also be an essential part of a comprehensive treatment plan. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable probiotic product and species for your specific symptoms and needs.Here are some specific probiotic species that have demonstrated promise in IBS prevention and treatment:

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