How To Take Probiotics – Important Things To Keep In Mind

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By Alexa DaFonte

Reviewed by Juliana Tamayo, MS, RDN - Last Updated

How To Take Probiotics

Probiotic supplements can be a tricky nutrition topic. What is the best time to take probiotics? How do the probiotic supplement strains differ? How long does it take for probiotics to work? Is one brand more effective than another? What if I have preexisting digestive issues or more bacteria in my gut? When it comes to probiotic health, we must first understand that our individual response to probiotics is unique and dependent on our own specific gut health.

We actually have trillions of probiotic bacteria living inside of our guts, and this healthy bacteria is responsible for maintaining a proper microbiome balance that allows our digestion to operate efficiently. Having a balanced gut microbiome with live microorganisms can help promote health benefits like proper metabolism, healthy stomach acid levels, efficient excretion, cognitive health and wellbeing, enhanced immune function, healthy skin, and may even promote healthy weight loss.

Our gut microbiome is actually very sensitive, especially when it comes to diet and lifestyle factors. When our microbiome or stomach acid is thrown off, our digestive system suffers. In order to ensure this balance stays healthy, we have to supplement and consume healthy sources of probiotics, either through our diet or through additional supplements.

Maybe you’ve already come to the conclusion that you need to take probiotics, or maybe you’re on the fence. Either way, you probably want to learn exactly how to take probiotics. So, in this guide we’ll take a thorough look at probiotics. We’ll discuss what they do, who should use them, when and how to take probiotics, and which probiotic may be right for you.

Let’s get started!

What do Probiotics Do?

Probiotics are basically live bacteria and yeasts that help keep our gut and digestion healthy within our digestive tract. Research shows that probiotics are beneficial bacteria known for maintaining a healthy gut balance, which can be thrown off due to antibiotics, certain foods, inflammatory diets, and lifestyle factors. In terms of function, probiotics actually send food through and towards your gut by initiating gut movement through certain nerves. Probiotics also help eliminate and over-crowd unhealthy and harmful bacteria that arise in our guts from time to time.

Probiotic Supplements

Who Should Take Probiotics?

Taking probiotics is generally safe for consumption in dietary supplement form; however, there are certain situations where probiotic use can do more harm than good. If you struggle with a health condition like SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), Irritable Bowel Syndrome, constipation, Chron’s, or any other digestive issue, adding more gut bacteria (even if it is beneficial bacteria) may cause symptoms such as:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • headaches

If you do not struggle with a digestive disorder, it is safe for the vast majority to start taking a new probiotic. Taking a daily probiotic can help combat any bacteria imbalances in the gut and can also help ensure you’re keeping those healthy gut flora levels high in the gut, which helps promote proper digestive and entire body health. You should be wary of taking probiotics if you are taking other medications or dietary supplements.

When Should I Take Probiotics?

When it comes to the best time to take probiotics, research suggests it’s always best to take them on an empty stomach, usually in the morning. The goal when taking a probiotic is for it to reach the large intestine, as this is where the survival of the microorganisms rates are highest. Your stomach is more acidic when you have food in it, and you want stomach acid to be low when consuming probiotics, so they are not killed off. You definitely should not take probiotics at the same time as food or other medication like antibiotics. Stomach acids can also be reduced by consuming fats after taking a probiotic, as this creates a more hospitable environment for the bacteria.

Take Probiotic in the Morning

Which Probiotic Should I Take?

There are many specific probiotic supplements that include different bacterial strains. Some of the most popular and beneficial strains are from the following three genera: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Cerevisiae. These strains are all broad-spectrum probiotics, which makes them more beneficial microbes when they reach the gut. Higher quality probiotics will put more strains or colony-forming units in their capsules to ensure the most benefits.

Top Probiotic Brands

  • Seed: This brand provides a symbiotic, which is a combination of both a probiotic and prebiotic. The brand states that it uses strains of good bacteria that provide benefits to things like the gi tract, heart health, immune system, and reproductive health. It is also allergen-free and has formulas specific to males and females. This probiotic supplement also effectively reaches both the large intestines and small intestines.
  • 1MD Complete Probiotics Platinum: This probiotic supplement contains both probiotics and prebiotics to provide support for the gastrointestinal system and associated health benefits. This supplement comes in delayed-release capsules that ensure the probiotics reach the intestines and survive harsh stomach conditions. There is also a guaranteed 51 billion powerful CFU’s in each capsule and 11 potent probiotic strains. There is also a Nutraflora prebiotic fiber included in the formula.
  • Gundry MD Bio Complete 3: This formula helps reduce the effects of “leaky gut” and other digestive disorders. It combines effective all-natural ingredients to help protect your body from endotoxin overload in the gut, as well as research-based probiotics that overcrowd bad bacteria. It can also help offset an acidic environment in the large intestine. This probiotic is also known to have a long shelf life.

Probiotic Pill Capsules

When it comes to choosing the right probiotic for you, you must look at your unique digestive health. Our entire body benefits from probiotic use, so it can definitely be helpful to include. As an alternative to probiotic supplements, you can also consume probiotic-rich foods like fermented vegetables, yoghurt, kombucha, and other fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut. These dietary probiotics also effectively reach the large intestine and boost specific strains of probiotics for overall gut health. To achieve optimal benefits, you can take a probiotic capsule a day on an empty stomach to ensure that your human gut maintains that equilibrium.

Final Thoughts: Probiotics and Your Health

There are so many benefits of probiotics for the entire body. Users provide evidence of their skin clearing, digestion benefiting, mood-lifting, and diet/weight altering as a result of these supplements. They help allow the good bacteria in the gut to flourish, contributing to whole-body health. Probiotic supplements can be a great addition to your everyday routine; just be sure to consult a doctor first, especially if you have digestive issues.

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Alexa DaFonte

With a degree in Nutrition and Health Sciences from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Alexa brings a vast knowledge of nutritional sciences, especially as it intersects with modern health and wellness. Due to her passion for a healthy lifestyle, she enjoys spreading awareness of the science behind many of her nutrition practices.