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Best time to take probiotics

Timing, usefulness, types, side effects

Probiotics contain live microorganisms that can support and enhance your healthy gut bacteria. This article reviews whether timing matters when it comes to taking probiotics.

Evidence-based
This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
We look at both sides of the argument and strive to be objective, unbiased, and honest.
Last updated on November 20, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on November 5, 2022.

Even if you’ve never taken probiotics, you’ve probably heard of them.

These supplements provide numerous benefits because they contain live microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, which support the healthy bacteria in your gut.

Yet, you may wonder whether you should take them at a particular time.

This article tells you whether there’s the best time to take probiotics.

Does timing matter?

Some probiotic manufacturers recommend taking the supplement on an empty stomach, while others advise taking it with food.

Though it’s challenging to measure bacteria viability in humans, some research suggests that Saccharomyces boulardii microorganisms survive in equal numbers with or without a meal.

On the other hand, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium survive best when taken up to 30 minutes before a meal.

However, consistency is probably more important than whether you take your probiotic with or without food.

A month-long study found that probiotics caused positive changes in the gut microbiome regardless of whether they were taken with a meal.

Meal composition may help

Probiotic microorganisms are tested to ensure they can survive various conditions in your stomach and intestines.

Nevertheless, taking probiotics with specific foods may optimize their effects.

In one study, survival rates of the microorganisms in probiotics improved when the supplement was taken alongside oatmeal or low-fat milk, compared with when it was taken with only water or apple juice.

This research suggests that a small amount of fat may improve bacterial survival in your digestive tract.

Lactobacillus probiotics might survive better alongside sugar or carbs as they rely upon glucose in an acidic environment.

Summary: Though research indicates that more bacteria survive if you take probiotics before a meal, consistency is probably more critical than specific timing when reaping the most tremendous benefits for your gut.

What are probiotics used for?

Probiotics can keep your gut healthy by preventing the growth of harmful organisms, reinforcing the gut barrier, and restoring bacteria after disturbances from illness or medications like antibiotics.

5 possible side effects of probiotics
Suggested read: 5 possible side effects of probiotics

While they may also support a healthy immune system and oral, skin, and mental health, research on these benefits is currently limited.

Some of the live microorganisms in probiotic supplements also occur in naturally cultured or fermented foods, including yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. These foods are linked to lower blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight.

If you don’t regularly eat fermented foods, you may want to consider taking a probiotic supplement. You can shop for probiotic supplements at Care/of.

Summary: Probiotics are live microorganisms that boost your gut health. Fermented foods contain some strains of these microorganisms, but probiotic supplements may be beneficial if you don’t eat foods like yogurt, kefir, or fermented vegetables.

Different types of probiotics

You can take probiotics in various forms, including capsules, lozenges, beads, powders, and drops. You can also find probiotics in several foods and drinks, including yogurts, fermented milk, chocolates, and flavored beverages.

Most probiotic microbes must endure digestive acids and enzymes before colonizing your large intestine.

Probiotics in capsules, tablets, beads, and yogurt survive your stomach acids better than powders, liquids, or other foods or beverages, regardless of when they’re taken.

Furthermore, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Enterococci are more resistant to stomach acid than other types of bacteria.

Most strains of Lactobacillus come from the human intestinal tract, so they’re inherently resistant to stomach acid.

Suggested read: Probiotics and prebiotics: What’s the difference?

Consider quality

Research shows that 100 million to 1 billion probiotic microorganisms must reach your intestine to experience health benefits.

Given that probiotic cells can die throughout their shelf life, purchase a reputable product that guarantees at least 1 billion live cultures — often listed as colony-forming units (CFUs) — on its label.

To maintain quality, you should use your probiotic before the expiration date and store it according to the instructions on the label. Some can be kept at room temperature, while others must be refrigerated.

Choose the right one for your health condition

If you have a particular health condition, you may want to consider a specific strain of probiotics or consult a medical professional to find one that’s best for you.

Experts agree that Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains benefit most people.

In particular, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii may reduce your risk of antibiotic-related diarrhea, while E. coli Nissle 1917 may help treat ulcerative colitis.

Meanwhile, probiotics that contain Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces boulardii seem to improve symptoms in some people with constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and several types of diarrhea.

Summary: For a probiotic to work, its live microorganisms must reach your large intestine and colonize it. Look for a supplement that guarantees at least 1 billion live cultures on the label, and ask your healthcare provider whether a particular strain is best for you.

Side effects and interactions

Probiotics usually don’t cause significant side effects in healthy individuals.

However, you may experience minor symptoms, such as gas and bloating. These often improve with time, but taking your probiotic at night may reduce daytime symptoms.

If you take a probiotic to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea, you may wonder whether the antibiotic will kill the bacteria in your probiotic. However, strains designed to help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea won’t be affected.

Suggested read: The 19 best prebiotic foods you should eat

Keep in mind that it’s safe to take probiotics and antibiotics simultaneously.

If you take other medications or supplements, discussing potential interactions with your healthcare provider is best. That’s because probiotics may increase their effectiveness.

Summary: Probiotics may cause minor side effects, such as gas and bloating. Talk to a medical professional if you take other medications, as probiotics may amplify their effects.

Summary

Probiotics contain live microorganisms that can enhance your gut health.

While research indicates that some strains may survive better if taken before a meal, the timing of your probiotic is less important than the consistency.

Thus, you should take probiotics at the same time each day.

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