When Is The Best Time To Take Probiotics For Optimal Gut Health
Within the past decade, we’ve made great strides in understanding the function of gut bacteria, probiotics, and prebiotics in human health and disease. It’s likely that the word “probiotics” immediately makes you think of gut health. But what exactly are they?
The recent discovery of the Gut-Brain connection revolutionizes the link between your digestion, mood, sleep, and even how you think! You probably wonder how you can benefit from this, which probiotics you should be taking, and whether you should take them at any particular time?
In this article, get to know the benefits of probiotics and the best time to take probiotics. In addition, we will provide our recommendation on choosing the optimal probiotic supplements to get started on your journey to good gut health.
Where You Get Your Probiotics From Also Matters
Aside from when you take your probiotic, its quality will also affect how much good bacteria makes it to your large intestine. High-quality producers will put higher amounts of probiotics in their capsules to guarantee that the amount of CFUs advertised on the bottle is in each tablet for the length of its shelf life, Dr. Wallman says. And higher-quality strains also have a longer shelf life, she adds.
If youre using probiotics for a specific health condition, talk to your doctor about finding the right probiotic supplement for you.
Otherwise, find a high-quality broad spectrum probiotic supplement. Unlike spore-based probiotics, broad spectrum probiotics are usually made up of at least three different kinds of bacteria . Your gut microbiome is diverse, so its a good idea for your probiotic to be as well when using it for general health and wellbeing, Dr. Wallman says.
Why Not To Take Probiotics With A Heavy Meal
We tend to be of the thought that taking probiotics with a light meal may help reduce their exposure to harsh stomach acid and assist their passage into the small and large intestines. We do not suggest taking probiotics with heavy meals as they take longer to digest and may delay the movement of the probiotic bacteria into the lower portion of your G.I. tract.
The acidic environment of the stomach can also kill probiotics gained from food, which can reduce the number of good bacteria available to inhabit the intestinal tract and small colonies of bacteria produce relatively weak health benefits as compared with large, robust colonies.
Unfortunately, there has been very little research comparing the benefits of taking probiotics with or without meals, or at different times of day. The paucity of studies could be because people have traditionally consumed probiotics during meals, through foods like yogurt and kefir. We hope to see more research into this area in the near future so we can better answer questions like these.
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Should I Take Probiotics With Other Medication
Generally, it’s safe to take your probiotic with other supplements in the morning or at another hour of your choosing. Antibiotics, however, should be taken alone, and a doctor may instruct you to discontinue other supplements due to temporary illness. Dr. Asike maintains that probiotics are generally safe for most individuals, and the likeliest side effect may be some temporary bloating or extra gas, which usually sorts itself out over time.
When Not To Take Your Probiotics
Most experts and studies assert that if theres one time of day not to pop your probiotic supplement, its first thing in the morning.
Probiotics are living organisms, they need food, water, and warmth to survive and multiply, explains David Friedman, N.D., C.C.N., author of Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction. In the morning, conditions are not optimal for probiotics simply because there is not enough food or water for the bacterial strains to flourish.
Another reason the early A.M. isnt ideal probiotic-taking time: Your stomach is super-acidic. In a fasted state, or when you have an empty stomach, your stomach is more acidic and has a pH around two, explains Robert Zembroski, D.C., D.A.C.N.B., M.S., functional medicine specialist, clinical nutritionist, and author of REBUILD. Its hard for probiotics to survive this harsh, acidic environment, so fewer make it through the stomach to the intestines, where they work their magic. The biggest danger for probiotics is the powerful acids in the digestive system, which are meant to break down and disintegrate materials that travel through it, says Friedman. If enough acid overcomes the coating of a probiotic capsule, it could kill the delicate strains.
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How Do Probiotics Work To Provide The Necessary Balance For Optimal Digestive Health
Probiotics are live organisms that contain a bacterium called Lactobacillus acidophilus. The name comes from the word probiotics, which means healthy bacteria. When probiotics are taken, they help to replenish the beneficial bacteria that are currently missing in the digestive system.
This replenishment ensures that the good bacteria continue to be present to keep the gastrointestinal tract healthy.
Mistake #: Youre Not Taking The Right Dose
Like mentioned previously, the dose must be proven effective to make a claim on package in Canada. A dose is measured in colony-forming units . Look for a product with at least 10 billion CFU, because that appears to be a minimum dosage across the scientific literature, and take as directed, says Nielsen.
The best way to ensure youre getting the most out of your probiotics, experts say, is to follow a balanced high-fibre food plan, understand the type of probiotic youre taking, review its clinical research, take the appropriate dose and store them according to the package directions. And if you have any concerns talk to your health care provider. Then youll have no worries that your probiotics are failing you.
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How To Stick To Your New Years Resolutions According To A Psychotherapist
Using probiotics also improves the levels of certain micronutrients such as zinc, vitamin B12, calcium, folate, and iron. Provided the positive effect of probiotics on vitamin absorption, it is best to take your morning supplements along with your probiotic pills.
Certain herbs, such as oil of oregano, wormwood, and garlic have antimicrobial activities. So, you should take these at least two hours away from your probiotics.
How Do Probiotics Work In Your Body
Probiotics are mostly bacteria. Before you get concerned, they arent the same as the harmful bacteria that cause infections. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are naturally present in your gut. Their jobs include:1
- Inhibit growth of harmful bacteria in our gut microbiota
- Stimulate growth of beneficial bacteria in our gut microbiota
- Supporting digestion
In some situations, your body doesnt have the right balance of probiotics in your gut. If this happens, your gut microbiota becomes unbalanced. This can cause several unpleasant health problems, including:6,7
- Poor nutrient absorption
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Increased inflammation
- Weakened immune system
Thats where probiotic foods and supplements can step in and fill the gaps to balance your gut microbiota. Thats why it is important to know what are probiotic foods and the signs probiotic are working.
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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.
Do All Probiotic Supplements Have To Go In The Fridge
No, but many probiotic companies recommend storing their products in the fridge to ensure maximum potency. If you are buying a probiotic supplement that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, make sure it has an expiration date and check that the manufacturer uses stable strains of bacteria that don’t need refrigeration.
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May Balance The Negative Effects Of Antibiotics
Athletes arent the only ones who might benefit from taking a probiotic supplement. If youre taking a course of antibiotics and are having stomach trouble, probiotics might help. According to research cited in the journal Antibiotics, one of the most common problems faced by adults and children taking antibiotics is diarrhea5.
A probiotic supplement was found to be beneficial in preventing people from suffering from antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Furthermore, there were no negative side effects associated with adding probiotics to the care routine.
The Role Stomach Acid Plays
The stomachs acidic environment plays an important role in digestive health.
Stomach acid helps break down carbohydrates and proteins and kills germs that enter your body via your mouth.
The pH value of the stomach is between 1.7 to 2.0. The pH value increases throughout the small intestine up to a pH of 7.0 in some parts of the large intestine. Most healthy bacteria in your digestive system live in the small and large intestines due to the higher pH value.
Prolonged exposure to the acidic environment in the stomach can kill the beneficial bacteria, which is why timing probiotic use is so important.
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Why You Need Probiotics
If we lived in a perfect world the way Mother Nature designed it
The soil would be microbially rich with critically important, gut-health promoting beneficial bacteria. Plants would grow organically, free of chemicals and toxins, and be naturally covered with health-promoting strains.
Every bite of food, starting with that very first mouthful when a baby transitions off the breast, would reintroduce these bacteria back into the gut to once again start their important, gut-cleansing-and-balancing journey down the intestinal tube.
After digestion and evacuation, they would be excreted and RETURNED TO THE SOIL to start the process all over again. The beneficial microbes in our bodies would live in harmony with nature, each fueling the other.
But life today is far from perfect Instead, in the westernized, industrial world, we have interrupted that natural cycle in virtually every way possible, starting with pressing down the toilet handle.
Since the late 40s and the advent of conventional farming, we have been systematically sterilizing beneficial bacteria out of:
- All our agricultural growing practices
- All our food processing systems
- Our environment in general
In our misguided attempts to remove all bacteria, were also eliminating the beneficial bacteria that our bodies need.
This is why we now must supplement either via diet or products Theres no other way we can give our body the bacterial support it needs!
Why Should You Take Probiotics
We live in a modern world that presents constant threats to healthy gut flora.
When beneficial bacteria in the gut become overwhelmed by harmful bacteria, an imbalance occurs that causes unpleasant side effects ranging from illnesses and digestive discomfort to anxiety and weight gain.
You may be surprised by the factors that may harm your healthy gut bacteria:
- A poor diet deficient in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Drinking too much alcohol and smoking
- Use of antibiotics, which kill all bacteria regardless of their benefit to the body
- Too little physical activity
- Poor sleep habits
Most of us are guilty of at least one or two items on that list, but its still possible to restore healthy gut flora by taking probiotics.
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What Is The Benefits Of Taking Probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that keep your body healthy and functioning properly. This beneficial bacteria aids you in a variety of ways, including fighting off harmful bacteria when there is an excess of it and making you feel better. Probiotics are part of a bigger picture about microorganisms and your body called your microbiome.
How Do I Know If I Need Probiotics
Your body naturally contains trillions of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are live bacteria that are believed to be good for your health, especially your digestive system. Some people take probiotics to try and restore the natural balance of bacteria in their gut after its been disrupted by an antibiotic.
There is some evidence that probiotics may help with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome , inflammatory bowel disease , and infectious diarrhea. Probiotics may also help with skin conditions like eczema and urinary tract infections .
If youre considering taking probiotics, talk to your doctor about what might be the best option for you.
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When Should I Take Probiotics
The ideal time to take probiotics is right before bed because “the gut is pretty inactive at night. If you think about it, you dont usually wake up in the middle of the night to poop, says Patricia Raymond, MD, a board-certified doctor in both gastroenterology and internal medicine. If you ingest a probiotic at night when your bowel isnt moving, theres a better chance that it will hang around, divide, and potentially get integrated into your gut.
Should You Take Probiotics With Digestive Enzymes
Probiotic supplements that produce digestive enzymes can be taken with food. For example, our P3-OM prebiotics and probiotics supplements produce protein-digesting enzymes to help break down the proteins you eat. So, P3-OM can help optimize your digestion when taken with food.
Supplementation with probiotics and enzymes helps improve nutrient availability in the gut. The digestive enzyme supports the breakdown of food molecules, while at the same time, probiotics positively contribute to the gut microbial environment. Since both work in synergy, you can take probiotics that produce digestive enzymes or take them along with a digestive enzyme supplement like MassZymes.
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When Not To Take Probiotics
If youre in a fasted state , then this isnt the ideal time to take probiotics.
Its also best to take your probiotics before a meal, or with a meal, but not after eating. A general rule of thumb is to wait 23 hours after your last meal to take your supplement especially if you ate a big, heavy meal.
Keep in mind that another important way to support the growth of good guy bacteria in your gut is by regularly eating probiotic-rich fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt and kefir. Additionally, including fiber-rich, prebiotic foods in your diet, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes, will help to feed healthy bacteria in the gut.
How Long Does It Take For Probiotics To Work Do Probiotics Help Right Away
Probiotics can be absorbed within about 30 to 60 minutes of you taking them. However, it takes time for your body to adjust to the presence of new microorganisms in your gut, so the real benefits may take some time to kick in.
Try to be patient and expect that it will take at least several weeks for you to start experiencing benefits, such as improvements in digestion.
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Should I Take Probiotics On An Empty Stomach
The concern here is that bacteria are delicate by nature, and that they may not survive stomach acid. Taking probiotics at a certain time of day could help you to ensure the highest survival rates of your probiotic. Confusingly though, different healthcare professionals and probiotic manufacturers, have different guidelines about when is best to take these supplements! So let’s try to clarify a few things.
First of all, let’s look at the logic behind having probiotics on an empty stomach, advocated by some. Seeing as acid is stimulated by consumption of food, it is thought that taking probiotics on an empty stomach is better because there is less residual acid in the stomach. However, its also important to note that there is a lag time between when food is eaten and when acid is released into the stomach. As a nutritionist, I like to recommend that clients take their supplements with a meal, as the food helps to buffer the effects of stomach acid it may also help to facilitate the passage of the probiotics through the stomach, and ensures that they are well mixed with the stomach contents as they pass into the small intestines.
We often get asked if you can take a probiotic before bed, well, some probiotic supplements that contain prebiotics could lead to initial bloating and gas, so these products might be best taken before bed. To learn more about prebiotics, read our article: What are prebiotics?
Why You Should Eat Probiotic Food On An Empty Stomach
For the beneficial bacteria in probiotic foods to make it to your large intestinethe gut of your gut microbiomeit must first pass through your harsh stomach acids. Your stomach is designed to break down food, drink, and any other particles. Unfortunately, that includes probiotics.
When you eat, the production of gastric acid in your stomach is increased to aid the digestion process. But while this acid is crucial for digestion, it can be greatly detrimental to probiotic foods. In fact, when eaten at the wrong time, a whopping 60% of the beneficial bacteria could be killed by gastric acids!
You want to give the beneficial bacteria in your food the chance to make it through that hostile acidic environment relatively unscathed. That means consuming probiotic-friendly food when your stomach isnt in digestion mode, to minimize the amount of gastric acid that might attack the probiotics.
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Take Probioticswith Specific Foods
Again, we have one study in a model digestive tract that shows that more probiotic bacteria survive when consumed with fats.
And once again, we need to consider this study in light of all of the research that confirms the health benefits of probiotics. Nearly all of these studies prescribed a specific dose of probiotics without any requirements for how patients should consume them.
Bottom line: Take your probiotic supplement with or without food.