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Best Time to Take Probiotics

Best time to take probiotics

Probiotics are gut-friendly bacteria known to keep your digestive system healthy, enhance your mood, and boost your body’s immune system. Probiotics are usually taken as supplements. However, to reap the most benefits of probiotics, it’s very important to know when is the best time of the day to take probiotics. Don’t allow bad timing to rip you off the benefits, read on to know when is the best time to take probiotics.

What are Probiotics?

First, let’s get an understanding of what probiotics are before we discuss the best time to take probiotics.

According to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics[1], probiotics are living microorganisms that offer appreciable health benefits when consumed in the right quantity. Although probiotics are external to the body and are found in supplements, drinks, and some foods, they function in the same or similar ways as the microorganisms already living in the body.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) [2], there are several different types, strains, or species of probiotics, and each has its unique way of acting on the body. For instance, the probiotic species Lactobacillus stimulates the brain to produce more gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) [3], a neurotransmitter that manages depression or anxiety.

The probiotic species Bifidobacterium encourages the production of butyrate, which is needed by your colon cells for energy. Butyrate is also reportedly capable of regulating your body’s response to insulin, helping your body to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.

Generally, probiotics are capable of maintaining digestive health and boosting the body’s immune system. They can be found naturally in fermented foods, such as sourdough bread, kimchi, sauerkraut, dairy products, or yogurt, and also in supplements and fortified foods.

Why Take Probiotic Supplements

Normally, we all have good microbes living in our lower stomachs. According to Harvard Health Publishing reports [4], these microbes help us in digesting foods, fighting harmful bacteria, and regulating our body’s immune system. However, an imbalance of the microbes can occur sometimes and is usually triggered by antibiotics and stress. This microbe imbalance can cause diarrhea or other health-related problems.

This is where probiotics are useful. Probiotics can be likened to supplemental bugs and are believed to help in fixing the microbe imbalance in your gut by restoring them to their normal state, thereby alleviating any symptoms associated with the microbe imbalance.

Do Probiotics Work?

To understand whether probiotics work or not, there are a few things you need to understand.

Most importantly, understand that any health product containing probiotics may not be monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the agency [5] does not concern itself with overseeing probiotics that are available as supplements.

Secondly, probiotics work. However, according to [6] Emma Allen-Vercoe, “the claims that are made [about probiotics] are greatly inflated.” The US Department of Health & Human Services also claims [7] that “not all dietary supplements and foods labeled as ‘probiotics’ available out there have verified health benefits.

The truth is that several different strains of probiotics can enter your gut and none of them can be considered a one-size-fits-all solution. So you have to get the right strain of probiotics to work for what you desire.

The performance and effectiveness of probiotics depend largely on the kind of bacteria involved. For instance, taking a probiotic supplement or eating foods rich in probiotics, such as yogurt and kombucha, may:

§ Alleviate digestive problems, such as constipation and diarrhea [8]

§ Boost mood

§ Support immunity

§ Create a healthy balance of gut microorganisms after an illness

Studies revealed that probiotics may also aid fat loss [9] and treat some digestive disorders [10], such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Studies also showed that some strains of probiotics can save your liver against acetaminophen damage, while some strains have an effect on atopic dermatitis, the most known form of eczema, and even cholesterol of high levels. Lactobacillus also has been found to help in alleviating abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, gut flora imbalances, and gas.

Nevertheless, to get the best out of your probiotics, timing is key. This takes us to know the best time of day to take probiotics

When Is the Best Time of Day to Take Probiotics?

It is recommended that you take probiotics on an empty stomach. This means that you can take probiotics first thing in the morning (about an hour before your meal) or last thing at night before you go to sleep. Based on the info above, the best time of the day to take probiotics is at night right before you go to bed.

But why take probiotics as the last thing at night before you go to bed?

At this time, you’re going to sleep and your gut will be inactive – at least for some hours. Aside from the fact that you won’t put anything down your digestive tract, you also may not wake up in the middle of the night to poop. Hence, if you take probiotics at night when you’re sleeping and your bowel isn’t moving, there is a better chance that the probiotics would stay around, integrate into your gut, and perform maximally.

Taking probiotics on an empty stomach may also mean taking probiotics possibly before a meal or when you feel slightly hungry. At this time, the environment of your stomach is less acidic – your stomach has not yet produced a large amount of acid to digest your food.

The goal is to get between five and 100 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) of probiotics to the large intestine tract, where the microbes are. For the probiotics to remain effective, they must bypass the harsh acidic environment of your stomach unharmed. The stomach acid may kill off most beneficial bacteria before they reach their location, disabling them from having an impact on your gut health.

However, taking your probiotics when your stomach acid is at its barest minimum will make their passage to your large intestine tract a little easier, and ensure you get the most from these gut-friendly bacteria. When you take probiotics when you have already eaten, your stomach will become more acidic. This can limit the number of probiotic CFUs that make it to the final destination.

Finally, the best time of the day to take probiotics depends on what type of probiotic you choose. For instance, probiotics that are enteric-coated or use delayed-release capsules are more likely to survive stomach acid. Hence, the exact timing to take them (before a meal, after a meal, before bed, etc.) is less important.

Research showed that uncoated probiotic supplements may be best taken with, or just before a meal containing fat. This is because fat helps to keep the acid in the stomach less active, ensuring that the probiotics can survive long enough to get into the large intestine.

However, if you opt-in for live strain probiotics, you should take them about 20 minutes after eating, the first thing in the morning, or last thing before bed at night. This helps them to get into the large intestines where they will have the most benefits.

If you choose spore-based probiotics, you can easily take them with food for the most impact. Spore-based probiotics are not affected by the harsh acidic environment of the stomach and they can use the meal to get themselves down to the large intestine. You can check for the type of probiotics on the packaging.

A final note on whether probiotics work. The truth is that probiotics work but taking them can also cause some side effects, which include severe bloating and brain fog. To be on the safer side [11], “Probiotics should be treated as a drug, not just as a food supplement.” Ensure that you check the dosage instructions. This can affect or guide you on when is the best time to take your probiotic.

The Best Food Sources of Probiotics

Probiotic supplements are the best sources of probiotics. However, supplements aren’t the only sources of probiotics, there are other ways to get your daily dosage of probiotics. You can also get probiotics from food sources. Several foods are loaded with these gut-friendly bacteria. The best food sources of probiotics include:

§ Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or pickles

§ Kefir – a tangy dairy drink

§ Yogurt, especially plain Greek yogurt

While the foods listed above are the best food sources of probiotics, you should not rely on getting probiotics from food sources alone. Most food producers are not required and so do not indicate the specific probiotic and its dosage on the food packaging.

Nevertheless, you need to be consistent with your dosage intake of the probiotic supplement. We recommend that you consult your health practitioner before you begin any probiotics regimen.

How to Take Probiotics with Antibiotics?

If you’re on antibiotics, it’s not advisable to take your probiotics and antibiotics at the same time. If you do, the antibiotics will kill all the probiotics. We advise that you wait at least two hours after taking your antibiotics before taking your probiotics – this is the best time to take probiotics after antibiotics. Also, if you’re on thyroid medication or other similar medication, keep your probiotics away from those medications.

However, some studies [12] claim it’s safe to take probiotics and antibiotics at the same time. Other studies suggest that if you take probiotics together with antibiotics, you’re less likely to contract antibiotic-caused diarrhea. If you wish to take your probiotics together with other supplements or medications, as stated above, it’s important to first discuss the potential interactions with your healthcare provider.

How Long Do Probiotics Take to Work?

There is no definite answer to the question above. Or perhaps, the answer to the question is “it depends.” Yes! How long probiotics take to work depends on several factors such as why you’re taking the probiotic, the current state of your health, and the strains of the probiotics you are taking.

Nevertheless, researchers have looked at the timeline for some common health conditions that can be supported by probiotics and reached the consensus that it can take between a couple of days to a few weeks for probiotics to start working.

Below is a list that can provide you with an idea of what you should expect about the timeline (remember, the following list does not have all of the symptoms that probiotics can help with):

§ Bloating: 3 – 4 weeks.

§ Non-chronic constipation: 7 days – 4 weeks.

§ Occasional diarrhea: 2 days – 2 weeks.

§ Skin problems: 4 weeks – 3 months.

§ Weight maintenance: 8 weeks – 12 weeks.

Note: Even though many factors can influence the result of your probiotic, you should notice positive results within 2 weeks, with more improvements with regular use after 6 weeks.

How Often Should I Take Probiotics?

One thing to note about probiotics is that they don’t stay for a very long time in your gut – because you would excrete them out. Therefore, to have an adequate amount of probiotics in your gut for effective performance, you need to take probiotics every day or on an ongoing basis until you feel better.

But Why Take Them On an Ongoing Basis?

While most people prefer to take probiotics on an ongoing basis, some prefer to take probiotics periodically or whenever they feel certain symptoms that they need a little support. Whichever way you prefer to take your probiotics, always remember that the probiotics will not stay for a very long time in your gut as several factors can negatively affect the probiotics in your gut.

For instance, our lifestyles are now so challenging for the microbes in our gut that most of us need to nurture these microbes on an ongoing basis. That is why you can’t just stop taking probiotics after you think that you have established good gut flora.

Another factor is this, the antibiotics you take cannot differentiate between the bad and good bacteria in your guts. As a result, the antibiotics can negatively affect the probiotic colonies in your gut. We are exposed to antibiotics in different ways. We can take antibiotics as medications when we take them ourselves. We are also exposed to a level of antibiotics when we eat dairy products and non-organic meat. These will also have some negative impacts on the probiotics in our gut.

Aside from antibiotics, we are always exposed to chemicals like chlorine from our drinking water. Chlorine is a very powerful antimicrobial agent, which can help in keeping away unwanted and desirable bacteria out of your water supply. However, it will also keep away, if not damage, the delicate good bacteria in your gut.

Also, some activities can deplete the flora in your gut. These activities include stress, taking HRT medication, contraceptive pills, and overconsumption of sugar.

Considering all the factors explained above, it’s easy to see why we are prone to microbe imbalance and need probiotics to augment and nurture these microbes on an ongoing basis. This is the reason why you shouldn’t just stop taking probiotics when you think you have achieved a good count of good gut flora. Just like the nonessential minerals, our body can’t produce probiotics. Therefore, a daily top-up of probiotics is a good idea for all of us.

Don’t forget, if you choose to take probiotics every day, you must ensure that you take them at a specific time every day.

General Note

More so, the results of taking probiotics can vary from person to person and this is dependent on what’s going on with you personally. Sometimes, when you don’t see positive changes in the symptoms immediately, don’t be so quick to give up as the probiotics may be working behind the scenes. Here are some conditions that can prolong the time it takes for probiotics to start working:

§ A very unhealthy gut

§ Chronic stress

§ Frequent antibiotic use

§ Improper storage

§ Incorrect dosage

§ Poor diet

§ Taking expired probiotics

§ Taking the wrong probiotic strain

Tips to Get More from Your Probiotic – Faster and Better

Here are a few things you can try to help your probiotic work better, faster, and more effectively:

§ Use the correct strain of probiotics as per your health conditions or symptoms.

§ Make sure that you’re taking the right dosage.

§ Keep them in a safe place following the proper storage instructions.

§ Take healthy meals that have lots of fermented and gut-friendly foods.

§ Monitor your stress levels and remember to take frequent breaks.

§ Take probiotics when stomach acid is lower or on an empty stomach.

There are several trusted probiotic brands that offer many benefits for your health. Among them is Jetson probiotics. It is the world’s only seasonal probiotic. This product contains strains of probiotics that are rotated four times a year to give your body what it needs when it needs it.

Jetson probiotic is well-formulated to prepare you for all the time you’ll spend outdoors this spring. It controls your responses to sensitivities and seasonal intolerances and improves itchy throats, nasal congestion, and upper respiratory inflammation.

Another trusted name for probiotics is Seed. They are designed for systemic benefits beyond digestive health. This probiotic works to reclaim the regular beneficial bacteria needed by your body for exercise, lifestyle, and a healthy diet.

Conclusion

Probiotics are live gut-friendly microorganisms that can improve the health and performance of your gut. Several studies have revealed that some types or strains of probiotics may survive better if taken before a meal while some can survive with the meal. However, the best time of day to take your probiotics is not as important as the consistency in taking your probiotics. Hence, while you take your probiotics at the right time, make sure you take your probiotics at the same time each day.

References:

1. https://www.nature.com/articles/nrgastro.2014.66

2. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm#hed1

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3179073/

4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics

5. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm

6. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-probiotics-really-work/

7. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Probiotics-HealthProfessional/

8. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1151505

9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29688793

10. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/23672869_The_efficacy_of_probiotics_in_the_treatment_of_irritable_bowel_syndrome_A_systematic_review

11. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180423085445.htm

12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25922406

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