Probiotics provide a wealth of benefits to their hosts. Increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut prevents diarrhea, alleviates constipation, removes acne, improves mood, and stops gum and mouth problems. By improving gastrointestinal conditions, beneficial bacteria contribute to the overall health of humans.
People who take vitamin supplements should consume fat-soluble vitamins at the same time as foods with healthy fats to enhance the absorption of the nutrients. There are similar conditions for probiotics.
Experts on gut health can confirm that timing is essential when it comes to downing a probiotic supplement. They added that other factors also contribute to the survival and effectiveness of good bacteria.
"With probiotics, it's all about survival," explained Dr. Vincent Pedre, M.D., the medical director of Pedre Integrative Health. "These delicate microorganisms must survive several obstacles: the manufacturing process, shelf life, and (once you take them) the acid in your stomach environment to reach your intestines, where they do their job." (Related: Can Lactobacillus fermentum, a “good” bacteria, address glutathione deficiency?)
Before they can take up residence in the gut, probiotic bacteria must survive the long and hazardous trip through the digestive system. They have a better chance of pulling it off with help from their host.
The probiotic supplement needs to be of excellent quality and potency. Pedre recommends a daily dose of 30 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) total of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains.
Select a trustworthy brand with sturdy capsules that can survive the acidic environment of the stomach. Bioshield capsules and enteric-coated capsules possess the necessary longevity to reach the intestine.
To increase the chances of the capsule reaching the small intestine, take it when the stomach contains low levels of acid. Stomach acid can prematurely break down the pill and kill the good bacteria inside.
A 2011 study by Institut Rosell indicated that the best time to consume non-enteric-coated probiotic supplements is shortly before a meal. It found that good bacteria, consumed 30 minutes before eating any food, have a higher chance of survival than those taken half an hour later when the stomach is releasing more acid to digest a meal.
Keep in mind that probiotics are well-tolerated by most people. The supplements can be taken at any time without triggering adverse side effects. Taking them at the "right" time – or rather, the best time – simply ensures that the highest possible number of good bacteria reach the gut. And if the probiotic supplement works, people should eat foods with lots of dietary fiber to further support gut health.
First-timers can experience brief episodes of bloating and gas problems during the early days of probiotic supplementation. The symptoms will wear off once the body adjusts itself to its new occupants. Beyond those starting hiccups, any side effects experienced after taking probiotics is likely related to taking the wrong strain of bacteria for the needs of the body.
"Not every probiotic is right for each person," Pedre advised regarding the tricky business of picking the right gut bacteria. "Sometimes it's about finding the right fit."
If a person experiences extended periods of bloating, constipation, or diarrhea, they need to consider taking a different strain of gut bacteria. The same holds for people who become more anxious or irritable.