You’ve done your research and settled on a quality probiotic supplement that you’re sure will meet your health needs. But you are now wondering “when should I take my probiotic?” “.
Unless otherwise specified on the label, most experts will tell you that the best time to take probiotics is usually about 30 minutes before a meal, rather than taking them on an empty stomach or after a meal. (Of course, you should always consult a healthcare professional before embarking on any diet or lifestyle, including taking dietary supplements).
How is it possible ? In this article, we will take a detailed look at the best time to take probiotics.
Why take probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that live in your digestive system/gut (also called the gut microbiome). They help maintain a healthy balance of intestinal flora. These “good bacteria” play an important role in improving gut health, which usually translates into other benefits such as healthy immune system function, support for nutrient absorption, digestion and healthy disposal, and more.
Here are some of the reasons why taking a high-quality probiotic supplement can generally be beneficial:
- help maintain the integrity of the intestinal mucosa, a crucial and often underestimated part of the immune system.
- help promote a healthy immune response and defenses
- help absorb essential nutrients in the gut, including zinc, iron and vitamin B12
- help reduce occasional diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating
They can help regulate the production of neurotransmitters, which impact energy, outlook, and sleep.
Best time to take probiotics
While choosing a quality supplement is important to get the most benefit from probiotics, when we take our probiotic supplements also determines the impact they will have.
In order for the healthy microbes to work, they have to pass through our stomach and reach our intestines, which is not necessarily easy due to the presence of stomach acid, enzymes and high heat.
When is the best time to take probiotics, on an empty stomach or with meals?
Overall, the research is quite mixed when it comes to determining how well probiotics are absorbed when taken with food or without food.
Some research suggests that healthy microorganisms can survive in roughly equal numbers when eaten with or without a meal. It really seems to depend on the specific type of microbe, and possibly also on the person taking the supplement.
So what is the main thing?
The most common recommendation is to take probiotics either within the hour before a meal or with a meal. In general, this seems to ensure the survival of probiotics better than taking them after a meal, when the pH of the stomach becomes more acidic. Probiotics taken with a meal containing healthy fats, and ideally prebiotics, may also contribute to higher survival rates.
Why is it best to take probiotics on an empty stomach?
Certain types of healthy bacteria may grow better in the gut when taken separately from food. However, this does not seem to apply to all types of beneficial microbes. The idea of taking probiotic supplements on an empty stomach, shortly before a meal, is to reduce the presence of stomach acid which can often kill some probiotics. One of the potential issues with taking probiotics on an empty stomach is that fasting increases stomach acidity (stomach pH is low when fasting). After eating, the pH of the stomach increases, which can help prevent the loss of probiotics in the digestive tract. To keep your stomach in an optimal pH range, take your supplement shortly before eating. Some people prefer to take it in the morning before breakfast, while others take it later in the day, before dinner.
Should I take a probiotic every day?
Overall, yes, most people can benefit from probiotic supplementation, as well as eating probiotic foods, every day. Ultimately, it seems like the best way to make sure your supplement works is to take it regularly (every day) at around the same time. You’re more likely to benefit if you’re consistent whether you take your probiotic with or without food.
How long does it take for probiotics to work? Do probiotics work immediately?
Probiotics can be absorbed within 30 to 60 minutes of 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 appear. Try to be patient and expect it to take you at least several weeks to start feeling benefits, such as improved digestion.
When not to take probiotics
If you’re on an empty stomach (you haven’t eaten in hours and don’t expect to for several hours), now is not the best time to take probiotics. It’s also best to take your probiotics before or during a meal, but not after eating. As a general rule, wait 2-3 hours after your last meal to take your supplement, especially if you ate a large, heavy meal. Keep in mind that another important way to encourage the growth of “good bacteria” in your gut is to regularly eat fermented foods rich in probiotics, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt and kefir. Additionally, eating fiber-rich prebiotic foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes, helps “feed” healthy gut bacteria.