Last updated October 20, 2019 by Lisa Richards, CNC   Reviewed by Dr Eric Wood, ND.

When Should You Take Probiotics?

Do you have questions about when to take probiotics?

The bacteria in your gut are far more important than most of us realize. They’re necessary for everything from immune support to brain function, nutrient absorption to the elimination of toxins. Maintaining a diverse microbiome is crucial for good all-round health, and to keep pathogenic bacteria and yeast at bay.

Probiotics are one of the most important health supplements on the market today. Each of us has billions of beneficial bacteria living in our digestive tract. These bacteria help us digest our food and absorb nutrients effectively. In fact, much of our digestive function is entirely down to the way these bacteria break down food in our gut. This is why probiotics are so essential for supplying nutrients to our many bodily systems, and our immune system in particular.

Ideally, we should all should be taking probiotics to maintain good heath and wellbeing. But there are circumstances where probiotics are even more important than usual.

Illness, antibiotic treatment, gastrointestinal infection, and other unpleasant triggers can lead to dysbiosis, in which your gut microbiome falls out of balance. Research shows that dysbiosis can have serious long-term consequences on human health, especially if it occurs in children of a young age when their immune system is still developing.

The Top 3 Reasons To Take Probiotics

Here are three times when you should seriously consider adding a probiotic to your daily routine.

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1. During/after antibiotics

Antibiotics are sometimes necessary for killing off the bad bacteria that cause bacterial infections. At the same time, however, remember that antibiotics also kill your good bacteria.

Antibiotics can create a gaping ‘hole’ in your gut microbiome. This hole, in the form of unused space and nutrients, becomes an environment that can be colonized by good or bad microorganisms. It’s important to close up that hole as soon as possible, and the best way to do that is by supplementing with healthy bacteria.

Taking probiotics during a course of antibiotics is an excellent idea, especially if you are suffering from side-effects like antibiotic-associated diarrhea. There is very strong evidence to suggest that taking probiotics during antibiotics can treat and prevent this type of diarrhea, particularly in Clostridium difficile infections. A review of 82 studies involving nearly 12,000 patients found probiotics had a positive effect in helping to reduce the risk of antibiotic-induced diarrhea. (1)

It’s important to note that you should take your probiotics separately from your antibiotics, or they may be killed off! Take them a few hours apart; for example, if you take your antibiotics with breakfast, take your probiotics with lunch.

To get the best results, consider starting your probiotic supplement before you begin your course of antibiotics. That will give your gut and immune system the best possible support as you try to min minimize the damage to your gut flora.

2. Before/during travel

Traveler’s diarrhea (TD) and food poisoning are very common consequences of travel, particularly in less sanitary countries. Travel-related symptoms such as bloating, and constipation may also occur while abroad.

Numerous studies have shown that probiotics are effective in treating and preventing gastrointestinal infections, food poisoning and traveler’s diarrhea. Probiotics not only help to keep constipation at bay; they also form a protective barrier over the mucous lining of the intestinal tract, which protects against the entry of any pathogenic bacteria into the body via food or water. (2)

Start taking your probiotics at least two weeks before you travel. This will help to establish the good bacteria in your gut, so you’ll be better prepared for any nasties you encounter. A healthy gut will optimize your immune function and promote good health while traveling.

Remember to keep taking your probiotic during your time away, and ideally for at least two weeks after you return home.

3. To Fix An Imbalanced Gut

An imbalance of gut microbiota can lead to a number of unpleasant symptoms. Digestive issues are the most common, such as indigestion, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, brain fog and allergies.

As a result, you may also suffer from immune dysfunction, skin infections and other recurrent infections.

The balance of bacteria in your gut can be upset by a number of things: medical conditions, medications, diet, emotional and physical stress, and, most often, use of antibiotics.

If you’re struggling with any of these symptoms, you need to take action to restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut.  The fastest and more efficient way to replenish a healthy microbiome is to take probiotic supplements.

Probiotic supplements can help to restore the balance of your gut microbiome by boosting levels of healthy bacteria.

This can help to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Candida overgrowth, and other medical conditions such as ulcerative colitis, acute infectious diarrhea, and diarrhea associated with antibiotic treatment or Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection. Probiotics also support your immune system and reduce the inflammatory response to potential allergens. (3)

8 Ways In Which Probiotics Restore Good Health

Probiotic supplements are an effective way to restore and maintain a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. When the levels of good bacteria are high enough, they crowd out the bad bacteria and can help prevent harmful organisms sticking to the walls of the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts.

The two main types of probiotics in your gut are lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, which are mostly present in the small and large intestines. Every probiotic species and strain have a unique range of effects on our health.

Probiotics have been shown to assist with improved health in the following ways:

  1. Restore and maintain healthy, balanced intestinal flora
  2. Support acute digestive health needs
  3. Reduce antibiotic-associated digestive diarrhea and discomfort
  4. Reduce the recurrence of yeast infections
  5. Support the lining of your gastrointestinal tract
  6. Reduce the production of pro-inflammatory markers that contribute to inflammation
  7. Limit growth of pathogenic bacteria that can lead to traveller’s diarrhea
  8. Promote the function of phagocytes, dendritic cells, and other immune system cells that are required to destroy harmful organisms

What Time Of Day Should You Take Probiotics?

It most cases, the time of day that you take your probiotic supplement doesn’t matter too much. However, because probiotics can cause some digestive discomfort at first, it may be wise to take them with your evening meal. Those with a sensitive gut may find they experience some temporary digestive side effects, although they usually pass within a week.

The best time of day to take probiotics is largely up to you. It may take some experimenting to figure out when suits you best. All you really need to do is remember to take them every day!

Should You Take Probiotics With Or Without Food?

While the time of day may not matter too much, taking probiotics with meals can help ensure you reap the full benefits of the bacteria.

Research has shown that in order to maximize the benefits from probiotics, they must first survive the journey through the acidic environment of your gastrointestinal tract. This allows them to reach the small intestine and colonize the gut, which is the whole point of taking them.

Most research suggests taking probiotics either while you are eating or just before you start eating. This is when your stomach is least acidic, so it will maximize the survivability of the bacteria. (4)

Another option is to take a delayed-release probiotic supplement. These are tablets or capsules that are designed to withstand the harsh environment of your stomach, enabling the bacteria to survive the passage through to your intestines.

The most effective form of time-release technology is BIO-tract. BIO-tract is a form of delayed-release tablet that uses patented technology to protect the probiotic bacteria from stomach acid for longer. These tablets are made of natural, high-grade raw ingredients and release their bacteria over 8-10 hours.

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The probiotic that I recommend is the Balance ONE Probiotic. It uses BIO-tract technology to protect its bacteria from stomach acid, contains 15 billion CFUs of bacteria, has 12 probiotic strains, and is made in the USA. It’s the only probiotic that I recommend for Candida overgrowth.

Can You Take Probiotics With Other Medications?

Some people add probiotics to their daily routine with little thought for how each medication might affect one another. It’s best to take your probiotics away from other medications to reduce the risk of interactions.

As mentioned above, it’s best not to take probiotics at the same time as antibiotics. Doing this is likely to reduce the effectiveness of the probiotic.

You should also avoid taking probiotics alongside natural supplements with antibiotic properties, such as natural antifungals or antimicrobials. While you may benefit from their ability to destroy harmful bacteria and yeast, they will also kill some of the beneficial bacteria within your probiotic supplement.

Consider taking your probiotics separately from other supplements, and at least 2 hours away from any medication or supplements with antibiotic properties.

Are There Times When You Shouldn’t Take Probiotics?

Probiotics are designed to boost the immune system, and there is substantial evidence that they do just that. However, this may not be a desirable outcome for someone taking immunosuppressants, as their immune system is likely to be downregulated. (5)

Although probiotics are generally safe and not known to interact with the majority of medications or supplements, it’s always best to check with your doctor or health professional that a probiotic supplement will fit in with your own medications.

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