Probiotic Supplements: Does Time Of Day Matter
July 9, 2021 by Clare Fleishman MS RDN
After deciding which probiotic supplement offers the beneficial strains that meet your health goals, you may consider what time of day to take it. Is a probiotic supplement best taken on an empty stomach? Or perhaps it should be taken with food?
Various health sites and blogs offer advice on those very questions. Unfortunately, the inconsistent recommendations some unsupported conjecture can cause confusion among consumers:
Lets take a look at what is known, gathered from evidence-based sources.
Should I Eat Before Taking A Probiotic
Taking a probiotic after or during your meal may negate some of the benefits of the supplement due to busy digestion efforts in your gut. But Dr. Asike explains that some bacterial strains are naturally more resistant to stomach acid, and can be taken with meals safely in some cases, multiple times a day. You’ll likely see printed language on your chosen probiotic packaging that indicates it’s safe to take with meals.
Prevent And Treat Tourist And Infectious Diarrhea
Probiotics show great efficacy in preventing travelers diarrhea. This form of diarrhea, which is rampant in developing countries, is linked to infection with a pathogenic strain of Escherichia coli.
They are also effective in the treatment of infectious diarrhea. In addition to rehydration, probiotics and lactic acid bacteria help relieve acute diarrhea of viral origin. Different strains of probiotics help reduce the chances of getting infectious diarrhea. And this, as well in the child as in the adult.
Lactic acid bacteria also have the effect of reducing the duration of diarrhea when it occurs. Associations between different probiotics have also been shown to be highly effective in infants.
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Side Effects And Interactions
Some individuals experience minor side effects like mild bloating, flatulence or more frequent bowel movements for the first few days of taking a new probiotic. This is your body getting used to the probiotic and potentially cleaning out harmful substances like pathogens.
However, if these side effects persist beyond the first week of taking the probiotic, stop taking the product and consult a physician. If you experience more serious side effects like severe stomach cramps, severe diarrhea, allergic reactions, dizziness, swelling, or difficulty breathing, discontinue the product and contact your physician immediately.
The Best Way To Take Probiotics
Although you can still reap some of the health benefits of probiotics by taking them on an empty stomach, its best to take them with foods. The stomach is a very acidic environment, but after eating, your stomach becomes less acidic. This enables more of the live bacteria to survive the acidity in your stomach and make their way to your intestinal tract. Ideally, you should take probiotics in three or four divided doses over the course of a day.
- Although you can still reap some of the health benefits of probiotics by taking them on an empty stomach, its best to take them with foods.
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What Is The Rationale Behind Taking Probiotics With Antibiotics
Taking an antibiotic for an infection can kill beneficial bacteria that live in your gut.
Probiotics may be taken orally to restore any imbalance in the normal intestinal or urogenital flora. This is the rationale behind taking probiotics with antibiotics. Severe antibiotic-induced diarrhea can also lead to an infection with Clostridium difficile, also known as C. difficile, a bacteria which can cause dangerous inflammation in your colon .
Experts have hypothesized that If you suffer from stomach cramping, gas or diarrhea when you take antibiotics, adding a probiotic may help to lessen, or even prevent, these symptoms. The addition of a probiotic will also reintroduce helpful bacteria into your digestive tract that have been killed or had their numbers reduced by the antibiotic.
Probiotics On Empty Stomach: How Stomach Acid Can Affect Good Bacteria
In addition to bacteria and other microbes, your stomach contains acid. The pH level of stomach acid can vary a great deal. It can sometimes have a pH of 1 or 2, which is very acidic. After a meal, it can get down to that level before quickly moving up to 3 or 4. After digestion, the pH will typically go back to the 4 or 5 level.2
The reason stomach acid is important when it comes to probiotics is that a low pH level can make it hard for probiotic bacteria to do their work.
Many types of bacteria simply cant survive in that type of acidic environment, even if they come in capsule form with a protective enteric coating.
Certain probiotic strains start to break down when stomach acid is at a pH level of 3. Not all probiotic strains are built alike, however. One strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, has been shown to be resistant to a pH of as low as 2.5.3
Researchers conducting a study tested the resistance of four probiotic strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus helveticus, and Bifidobacterium longum to stomach acid.
They found that the bacteria had a better chance of survival when ingested with a meal. The bacteria also fared well when ingested shortly before a meal.4
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What’s The Best Time To Take Probiotics
Theres a lot of information about probiotics out there. Topics you may have seen or read about include things likewhat probiotics are, where theyre found, how they work, whathealth conditions they can help with, and what different strains can do. But what about the best time to take probiotics? Should you take them in the morning or at night? With food or on an empty stomach?
This post will answer those questions and more, so you can get the most out of these beneficial bacteria.
It Can Depend On The Strain
Finally, its important to note that not all probiotic strains and formulas are alike.
For example, lactobacillus is a common probiotic strain. It relies on glucose to survive in an acidic environment like our stomachs. For that reason, it may pair best alongside sugar and carbohydrates.
However, different probiotic strains, and combinations of strains, may perform differently.
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Does It Really Matter When To Take Probiotics Be It Morning Or Evening
That is up for debate. Numerous manufacturers recommend taking probiotics on an empty stomach, while some argue that you should take it with a meal regardless of what time of day it is.
When it comes to the actual science of this, certain probiotics such as Saccharomyces boulardii have been seen to survive in equal numbers under conditions of being taken both with and without food.
Whereas other bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium do better when taken up to 30 minutes before you have a meal.
It may not matter when you take a probiotic but it does matter how often you take it. By keeping consistent and having a probiotic either at the same time once every morning, or once every night youre keeping the flow of bacteria to your gut constant. In doing so you can help keep your stomach optimized with that healthy bacteria to give you better overall digestive health.
Final Words On When To Take Probiotics
To conclude, the best time to take probiotics would be with a meal. This creates thebest possible environment for the good bacteria to arrive in your gut alive. However, if thats not convenient for you, thats okay. Intelligent Labs delayed-release probiotic capsules and specially selected sub-strains are designed to survive acidic conditions. So, if you take our probiotics on an empty stomach, they will still work just fine!
Tompkins, T A et al. The impact of meals on a probiotic during transit through a model of the human upper gastrointestinal tract. Beneficial microbes vol. 2,4 : 295-303. doi:10.3920/BM2011.0022
Andy is Intelligent Labs Chief Product Officer and takes the lead role in ensuring Intelligent Labs product range is always at the forefront of development in the supplement industry. Andy initially studied Sports Science and Physiology at the University of Leeds and has since gone on to study under some of the leading critical thinkers in the functional medicine and nutritional therapy industries including Dr Bryan Walsh, Dr Datis Kharrazian and Marek Doyle, to better understand how our nutrition as well as our lifestyle and environment can help combat chronic disease and increase our lifespan.
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What 3 Foods Are Bad For Your Gut
Worst Foods for Digestion 1 / 10. Fried Foods. Theyre high in fat and can bring on diarrhea. 2 / 10. Citrus Fruits. Because theyre high in fiber, they can give some folks an upset stomach. 3 / 10. Artificial Sugar. 4 / 10. Too Much Fiber. 5 / 10. Beans. 6 / 10. Cabbage and Its Cousins. 7 / 10. Fructose. 8 / 10. Spicy Foods.
Can You Take Probiotics Every Day
A common question about probiotics is whether it is ok to take probiotic supplements every day. Whilst there may be a few exceptions to this rule, the general answer is yes, it’s safe, and usually recommended, to take them daily. It’s important to understand that probiotics are a natural supplement and not a medicine.
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When Should I Take My Probiotics
The most frequently asked questions when it comes to probiotic are usually about how to take them. “What time should I take my probiotic supplement?, Should I take it with a meal or on an empty stomach? and “Can I take it with antibiotics?” are some of the most common. Ultimately, we all want to make sure that were able to get the best out of our probiotic supplements.
Other Factors To Consider When Taking Probiotic Supplements
In addition to the best time to take probiotic supplements, another important factor to consider is quality. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, which means that what is claimed to be on a label may not actually be what is in their product. For this reason, its essential to select a probiotic from atrustworthy and well-researched brand that utilizes third-party testing for purity and potency.
Also, keep in mind that some probiotic supplementsneed to be refrigerated to stay alive. Its important to read the label of any supplement and pay attention to storage guidelines and expiration date to preserve its potency for as long as possible.
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Can You Take Probiotics On An Empty Stomach: 3 Great Reasons
Can you take Probiotics on an empty stomach is a major doubt thats developing in the mind of so many folks. Imagine you are sick and you dont like taking medicine every alternative day.
Are you wondering about something that can prevent you from falling sick and can balance your body? Then it would help if you gave Probiotics a try.
Can you take Probiotics on an empty stomach? is still a question that many people struggle with. This article may help you with this.
Should I Take A Probiotic Every Day
The short answer: Yes, you should aim to take a probiotic every single day if possible. “It’s best to take probiotics at least once daily with water or milk,” Dr. Asike says. There are many different forms of probiotics you can purchase in the wellness aisle from powders to capsules, tablets to liquid suspensions, but a regular dose on an even basis should be a goal regardless of which strain of probiotic you take.
If you’re wondering what may be the best option for a daily probiotic, Dr. Asike recommends looking for multi-species or multi-strain products before single-strain supplements, as they may provide more benefits overall. Saccharomyces boulardii, as well as Lactobaccilus rhamnosus,are popular options that may provide more relief to those experiencing irritable bowel syndrome, he adds. “There isn’t one over-the-counter brand that’s better than another when it comes to strains I advise looking for multi-species or multi-strain , and to grab a store brand if that’s what’s available.”
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The Best And Worst Time Of Day To Take Your Probiotics
Youve probably heard 100 times by now how important your gut health is for your overall well-beingand that the healthy bacteria that live in your digestive system play a huge role in keeping that gut health in tip-top shape.
After all, these probiotics help us digest food, destroy microorganisms that might trigger disease, and even produce vitamins. Our bodies naturally house both good and bad bacteria, but as long as the two are in balance, our immune system stays strong, which is crucial for our general health, explains Sarina Pasricha, M.D., M.S.C.R., a Harvard-trained, double-board certified gastroenterologist with the Delaware Center for Digestive Care in Newark, Delaware. In fact, probiotics have been shown to help us fight off everyday bugs, overcome irregularity in the bathroom, and manage digestive conditions.
Given their many benefits, its no wonder many of us have added probiotic supplements to our daily routines. Thing is, benefiting from a supplement isnt quite as simple as just remembering to take it at some point every day. Turns out, when we take our probiotic supplements actually has a pretty big impact on just how much theyre able to do for our digestive system.
Heres what top gut expertsand the latest sciencehave to say about when to take your probies.
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How To Store Your Probiotic
Lets remember, probiotics are made up of living organisms, and as such, they will survive longer when kept in a cool, dry environment. Your kitchen or bathroom cabinet is a good spot. Look for probiotics that are packaged in amber or dark color glass. This helps to protect them from moisture and light damage. And you may want to reconsider keeping your probiotics stored in your day-of-the-week pill organizer. We know there are some cool organizers on Amazon, but they could compromise the effectiveness of your probiotics, if they are exposed to light, temperature changes, and humidity. Best practice is to only keep a few days of servings in a portable pill caddy at a time. Refill from the bottle stored in a dry, cool, environment.3
Some probiotics need to be refrigerated, but if possible, choose a probiotic that is shelf stable, meaning they can be safely stored at room temperature, and do not require refrigeration. This makes your life a little easier, and also makes it more convenient for you to take your probiotics when you travel .
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There Are Bigger Factors To Consider
Although we can get caught up with getting the timing right, and yes, generally you want your probiotics to survive as well as they can, there are other factors which matter more than the timing. For example, of greater concern would be checking that you have the best specific probiotic supplements tailored to your needs. Not all probiotics have the same health benefit as they all have different properties, so it’s best to use specific probiotic strains to target specific health conditions. Dont forget to also make sure these strains have lots of clinical trials to back up their efficacy! To learn more, read our article: Are all types of friendly bacteria the same?
Many gold standard clinical trials involving the use of probiotics dont specify the time of the day the supplements were administered and its not a strictly controlled factor, which indicates that the researchers do not see it as a limitation. But, it still brings up the question of “is there a right or wrong time to take probiotics?”
This recent clinical trial, published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, is the first of its kind to explore this topic.
How To Take Your Probiotic
When deciding how many capsules to take as part of your daily serving, it is helpful to check the label and read the instructions in the Suggested Use section. This lets you know what the proper serving size is for the probiotic you purchased. Many times, the serving size is not just one pill, but two. And some suggest taking them more than once a day.
Should you take probiotics on an empty stomach, or with food? Here is what we know. In general, probiotics should be taken with food. They should be taken with food because there are very few strains of bacteria the can withstand the harsh acidity of an empty stomach. Food dilutes stomach acid to levels that bacteria can withstand. We also know that fewer bacteria have been shown to survive in fasted than in fed subjects.2
The illustration on the left shows pH variations in the stomach after eating. You can see that the stomachs pH level is higher after eating, which means that the bacterial strains are better able to survive.
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How To Take Probiotics
Now that you are well conversant with the timings, how well should you take your probiotics? What is the best way?
In study published in the December 2001 edition of the journal Beneficial Microbes, findings were that fat in the diet improved survival of probiotic bacteria. It was also reported that 1% milk was more effective than taking water or juice with probiotics. 1% milk is 1 mL of pure milk in 100 mL of water. This means that how you take your probiotic will highly determine its effectiveness. Here are the two important points:
- With food, take the recommended amount 30 minutes before breakfast or with the meal.
- With antibiotics, take the probiotic 1-2 hours after taking your antibiotic
It is also important to take probiotics well not only to get the most out of it, but also prevent occurrence of side effects. You would tackle both of them at a go, but the latter should equally be emphasized. FDA regulates probiotics not as medications, but as food. You understand that foods are not regulated and it therefore downs on you to make the correct decisions with them. The lack of regulation gives the manufacturers the leeway to assume essential labelling such as safety and effectiveness as medications. Check for the following:
The above are important steps to using any probiotics for both safety and effectiveness.