One of the main questions that people have about natural probiotics in foods as well as probiotic-laden supplements is often something along the lines of – “what is the best time to take probiotics?” or “When to Take Probiotics”?
Not all of the gut microflora acts in a beneficial way, but that’s actually why probiotic bacteria are good for us. They primarily aid in the absorption of nutrients from the food we eat, help improve our gastrointestinal health and “crowd out” bad microbes (pathogens) in our digestive, urinary, oral and reproductive tracts.
Probiotic bacteria live in mutually beneficial symbiosis with us – they feed on some of the foods we eat and our bodies thrive on the byproducts released by their life processes.
How Often Should You Take Probiotics?
There are two main reasons for taking probiotics – to increase the number of good or probiotic bacteria in your body, and to replace them when something has killed them off. Based on these goals and the extensive benefits of probiotics , the correct answer really is – “Any time”!
Just about every culture and folk-medicine prescribes foods with probiotics, like yogurt, for ailments affecting the digestive track, as well as improved digestive health in general. For a healthy lifestyle and diet, probiotics should be part of your regular routine, primarily due to their gut health benefits and disease-preventative properties.
While it’s recommended to take a probiotic every day, you may need to acclimatize your system to these powerful do-gooders, so it’s often better to start taking a supplement every few days and eat probiotic yogurt or drink probiotic juices daily. It’s a good idea to take a variety of probiotic supplements and foods on at least a weekly basis, so you can enjoy the benefits of each one.
Since different kinds of probiotics have different effects on your body and any disorders that it’s battling, you may need to customize your probiotic intake from time to time.
Specific Situations When You Should Take Probiotics
There are also some specific situations or times when a doctor or naturopath may suggest adding certain probiotic foods or supplements to your diet. This could be when you need treatment for specific disorders or if your overall health could use a boost after a bout of sickness or antibiotic use.
Probiotics can prove to be particularly helpful in these situations, but make sure to check out the probiotic benefits in detail , to understand when you may need them:
1. You Suffer from Digestive Disorders
Probiotics can help treat a wide range of digestive disorders, since the digestive tract naturally has a balance of beneficial micro-flora, a colony of microbes. The micro-flora helps the body assimilate food and the nutrients it contains. A poor diet, lack of sleep, stress and antibiotics can kill off these beneficial probiotic bacteria, leading to a number of gastric disorders.
So, if you’ve been suffering from digestive distress, probiotics can help relieve your symptoms and reduce the severity of conditions like:
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
While the lactobacillus probiotic strains are generally the best probiotic for IBS and other common stomach ailments, research has shown probiotics to have potential for treating more serious ones like Crohn’s disease too.
2. You’ve Been on Antibiotics
Antibiotics may be wonder-drugs that have reduced the occurrence of diseases and their effects, but they’re not the best thing for the natural probiotics in your system. The problem is that they are unable to tell the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria. Powerful antibiotics in particular can kill off significant numbers of probiotic bacteria.
Here’s how probiotics can help improve your gut health after antibiotic use:
- Probiotic supplements can help re-establish the colonies of bacteria that are indiscriminately vanquished by strong antibiotics.
- Probiotics can be taken alongside many antibiotics to support their fight against pathogens and replenish beneficial bacterial colonies.
- Just after a long course of antibiotics is over, probiotic supplements can recolonize the gut with good microbes that restore proper gut microflora balance.
Probiotics can provide relief from symptoms and disorders associated with antibiotic use. Take them for a couple of weeks or longer, depending on the potency and how long you’ve been taking antibiotics.
3. You’re Recovering from a Stomach Infection
Food poisoning is caused when unwanted harmful microbes enter the body and establish themselves. Since probiotics help prevent these organisms from establishing themselves and spreading, they can limit the effects and help you recover faster.
Typically, you’ll be prescribed some medication to tackle the infection, which might also disturb the balance of the beneficial bacteria:
- If you have a stomach ailment or something you’ve eaten isn’t sitting right, there’s probably some bad bacteria trying to infect your body.
- Probiotics seal the junctions between your intestinal lining’s cells, sealing them off from toxic substances and infectious diseases.
- Taking probiotics before and during a trip abroad keeps the amount of good bacteria in your body high, which can prevent regional stomach bugs.
Your body’s defenses against potentially harmful microbes is linked to the number of good bacteria present in your body. Apart from helping cure diseases, they can play an essential role in preventing them in the first place.
4. Your Immune Responses are Weak
If you’ve already burned through all your sick days because you’re falling sick all the time, there’s a good chance it’s because your immune system is weak. Probiotics might just be the solution to all your woes, since a number of clinical tests and research have found that they can boost your immunity.
Good bacteria trains your body to differentiate between naturally-occurring probiotic microbes and harmful “foreign” ones:
- Certain strains of beneficial bacteria can combat pathogens and create a hostile environment for them, so they don’t multiply.
- Some probiotics also trigger the production of lymphocytes, which are indicators of healthy immune system activity.
- Maintaining a healthy diet is important and you can also have probiotic-rich foods and beverages like miso, kefir and soy beverages.
Probiotics can help strengthen your immune system if it is moderately weak, it can cause your problems. If you suffer from a very weak immune system, you should consult your physician before you start taking probiotics or make any changes to your diet.
5. You Suffer from Yeast or Bacterial Infections
Candida, vaginosis and recurring yeast infections are good indicators of an abundance of harmful bacteria establishing themselves in your body. Bacterial and yeast infections can occur in the vaginal, urinary and GI tracts, especially when heavy antibiotic use has disturbed the natural balance of microflora in these areas.
Research has found probiotics to be extremely helpful and effective at tackling these infections:
- You can take probiotics to support the antibiotics typically prescribed to treat bacterial and yeast infections.
- They help relieve your body of the painful symptoms that usually accompany infections of this nature.
- They crowd out harmful microbe colonies and significantly reduce the chances of recurrence by repopulating your system with helpful bacteria instead.
Bad bacteria feed on some sugars, so eliminating them from your diet can also help the spread of good bacteria and expedite the recovery process.
6. During Flu Season
Apart from your regular flu shots and vaccines, taking probiotics alongside can reduce the chances of falling victim to bugs and infections. Apart from fighting bad bacteria, probiotics have been found to be effective against viruses and some parasites too. They’re particularly helpful for children, who are often at the greatest risk.
A medical study involving children between 3 and 5 years of age revealed some interesting facts about probiotics:
- Children treated with 2 different probiotic strains had an impressive 63% lower occurrence of fever.
- These children were also less susceptible to symptoms like a runny nose and cough by 54% and 63% respectively.
- The symptoms of a whopping 80% of the children taking probiotics abated within half the time (3.4 days) as those on the placebo (6.5 days).
For infants and babies, it’s important to consult a doctor before including unpasteurized foods in their diet or giving them any dietary supplements.
7. When You’re Pregnant
A woman’s body goes through a lot during pregnancy, childbirth and even afterwards, and probiotics can help build strength and immunity for tackling these changes. There are now a number of probiotics for babies, though they haven’t been thoroughly tested yet.
Research conducted on how taking probiotics during pregnancy have revealed some surprising results, especially when it comes to the child’s allergies.
- The balance of good bacteria colonizing the mother’s gut is passed on to her newborn through the vaginal tract during birth, and through breast milk after.
- Asthma and allergies are linked to hypersensitive immune responses which probiotics seem to help dampen in children and adults alike.
- In fact, children whose mothers took regular probiotics during pregnancy were at a 12% lower risk of allergies compared to the others.
Make sure that you consult your doctor before changing your pregnancy diet to include fermented or unpasteurized foods, or any extra supplements.
What Time of the Day Should You Take Probiotics?
Probiotics have definitely shown promising results, though the research is still ongoing. One of the things that impacts their efficacy is when they are taken. While there are a lot of differing opinions, one factor which has been established is that strong stomach acids kill off good bacteria.
Most agree that the best time for taking probiotics is about 2 hours after a meal, since acid levels are lower and more bacteria survive. Another thing to consider is that they can cause flatulence and bloating, especially during the first few days, so it might be better to take them at night till they’ve established themselves.
A probiotic supplement will typically include different strains, each of which has its own benefits. So, it’s not just about when to take probiotics, but which one to take too.
How long does it take for probiotics to work?
“Probiotics” is a term used to describe the beneficial bacteria that naturally colonize our guts and other parts of the body, where they help to fight off infection and aid with digestion… Click here to read more.