About 4 million people regularly take probiotics. With good reason! These are live microorganisms that can offer you a wide array of health benefits when consumed correctly. The idea that probiotics are good for your gut isn't in question. What many people want answered has to do with the best time to take probiotics?
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Does it Matter When You Take Probiotics?
To fully answer this question, you must first take a close look at what probiotics are and how they work.
Probiotics are supplements that contain live microorganisms such as yeast or bacteria that work to support the healthy and beneficial bacteria in your tummy. Typically, probiotics work by preventing the unfettered growth of harmful bacteria and other organisms in your stomach.
As a result, these supplements reinforce your gut barrier and restores healthy bacteria to nominal levels after you have suffered a disturbance from outside forces such as illness or medication, especially antibiotics.
While research in the field is a little limited, there is evidence that probiotics help to support and boost your immune system, skin, oral, and even mental health.
However, the fact that probiotics are live microorganisms means that they play by the same rules as most other gut bacteria. This makes them very sensitive microorganisms that are easily affected by factors such as stomach acid, temperature, and the kind of food you eat. In short, the condition of your stomach when the probiotics go in can easily help them thrive or hinder them from doing so.
So, to answer the question, "does it matter when you take probiotics?"
Yes, it does matter when you take probiotics.
In fact, not only does it matter when, but it also matters how you take them, which will only work towards raising the next best questions:
- When is the best time to take probiotics?
- Why can't I follow the instructions on the label?
Why Not Just Follow the Instructions on the Label?
This is a valid question because every probiotic bottle comes with instructions telling you when and how to take the supplements. The problem is that the instructions are often all over the place and vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. For the most part, you will see labels telling to take your probiotics:
- With food
- At night
- An hour before meals
- In the morning
As such, if you switch suppliers, there is a good chance that you will get a bottle with completely different instructions than you are used to, and that might very well throw off whatever health gains you were hoping to get from taking these supplements.
What is the Best Time to Take Probiotics?
While the truth is that there isn't an exact science as to when you need to take your probiotics, understanding the nature of the supplements will give you reliable guidance as to when the time is best. That being said:
If you are going to take your probiotics effectively, you should do so at least 30 minutes before eating or with a meal.
Here is why:
Bacteria (which is what probiotics are in essence) are living organisms, and they need warmth, food, and water to thrive. Therefore, when you eat, even though the stomach acid and bile being secreted to break down the food is way too harsh to allow these delicate bacteria to survive, let alone thrive, it is this mixture of food and stomach acid that allows the bacteria cultures in probiotics to get to the intestines without suffering too much exposure to the acid. It is also the warmth and water from your meal that allows it to thrive.
That is one of the main reasons why taking your probiotics in the morning is a bad idea. Most people have nearly empty stomachs in the morning, and that means that the harsh stomach acids will make your stomach a hostile environment for the probiotics to thrive.
So again, the best time to take probiotics is with your meals or at least 30 minutes before a meal.
How Should You Take Probiotics?
Now that we have answered the when, let's take a look at the how:
Studies have shown that there is a specific type of food that falls under the umbrella of "prebiotics" and can help good bacteria to do its job better. This is the kind of food you need to eat alongside your probiotic supplement to help you get the most out of the supplements.
Prebiotic fiber includes foods such as:
Insoluble fibers make good prebiotics. The good thing is that you don't have to worry about going to the farmer’s market every day to get these foods before taking your prebiotics. There are probiotic supplements that have prebiotic fibers woven into the formula. It is also advisable to eat a lot of healthy fats to help your supplements make it through the journey through your guts in good condition.
Can You Take Probiotics Every Day?
Can you and should you take a probiotic supplement daily? The answer is yes. The general consensus is that most probiotics are safe to take daily provided you are taking them at the right time and in the right way, as mentioned above.
The general idea here is that since we live such sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles, simply taking your supplements for a short while and then deciding to stop once your stomach starts to feel "okay" isn't good enough.
It is very easy for the good work that your supplements have done to be erased with one bad meal, a dosage of antibiotics, or any other outside factor that could ruin the delicate bacterial balance in your gut and overall digestive health. That is why, unless it says NOT to on the bottle, you are advised to take your probiotic supplements on an almost daily basis if not daily.So now you know the best time to take probiotics as well as why and how to take them effectively as a healthy adult. Why don't you get started on your journey to a healthy gut with this bottle?