Probiotics have been researched for years and different strains are continuously being found. There are studies boasting the benefits of taking probiotics for supporting health outcomes.* So, how long does it take for probiotics to work?
In this article, we’ll be looking at the inner workings of probiotics to better understand the process by which they function and how long that process takes.
How Soon Do Probiotics Work?
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are living microorganisms (bacteria or yeast) that are naturally found throughout the body but can also be consumed as supplements or foods that support the immune system and facilitate digestive health.*
The word bacteria is typically associated with harmful microorganisms that cause gastrointestinal side effects and various conditions. However, there are good and bad bacteria and it is essential to maintain the balance of your microbiome.
While it is possible for this good bacteria to cause some mild probiotic side effects after the first few days of use, this usually subsides.
The most common probiotic genus is lactobacillus (which occurs naturally in digestive and urinary tracts) and Bifidobacterium (found in the intestines, vagina, and mouth).
When Do They Start To Work?
The process of creating a healthy and balanced microbiome does not occur overnight.
Each individual can react to probiotic consumption differently as microbiome differs from person to person. Some may see a difference immediately, while others will see changes after 2-3 weeks. On average, it usually takes a few weeks for probiotics to start making any noticeable changes.
The influence a probiotic supplement has on you will also differ based on the condition you are looking to target.*
If someone uses probiotics to help with diarrhea, they can start to see results after only a few days.* On the other hand, someone taking probiotics for healthy weight management will likely start noticing changes after 4-8 weeks.†*
Prebiotics are a form of fiber that act as food for microorganisms and supports growth.* They occur naturally in various fruits and vegetables, but can also be available as prebiotic powder supplements.
When taken with probiotics, prebiotics can support the flourishing of beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome, and ultimately speed up the process of maintaining a healthy microbiome.*
There are some details about taking probiotics that users need to be aware of in order to see desired results.
You should always consult with a healthcare provider before starting a new supplement, including probiotics to ensure they meet your individual needs.
Why Take Probiotics?
The culmination of various microorganisms in the gut is called your gut microbiome. A healthy gut microbiome will consist of more helpful bacteria than harmful ones.
When this balance is thrown off and the bad bacteria outnumber the good, it's referred to as dysbiosis. This condition can lead to various stomach-related illnesses, as well as leave you vulnerable to other diseases due to your weakened immune system.
Supports Healthy Inflammatory Response*
Bad bacteria can cause inflammation in the gut and throughout the body.
Probiotics containing good bacteria known as B. bifidum and L. casei have been shown in studies to support healthy inflammatory responses in the body and restore balance.*
Helps With Diarrhea*
Diarrhea can occur for various reasons, one of which is antibiotic use. This is why taking probiotics and antibiotics together can help.* Antibiotics cannot differentiate between good and bad bacteria, resulting in the destruction of good bacteria in the process.
This can lead to diarrhea and a number of other gastrointestinal symptoms. Adding a probiotic to the course of your antibiotic treatment can support bowel regulation and disruption in gut flora.* However, they should not be taken simultaneously.
Probiotics should be taken 2-3 hours after taking antibiotics to ensure the body doesn't attack new probiotics being introduced to your digestive tract.
Good For Maintaining Skin Health*
Your skin, the largest organ of the body, also hosts a microbiome of its own. The good bacteria in this microbiota protect the skin against pathogens and inflammation.
In addition to consumption through food, pills, liquids, and powders, probiotics can also be applied directly to the skin in the form of a cream.
When applied externally, it can protect your skin from the bad bacteria that cause acne and reddening of the skin as well as damage due to UV exposure.* Utilizing probiotics for skin conditions like eczema can support healthy skin microbiome and aid in the recovery of such conditions.*
Support Healthy Weight*
Studies have shown that there may be a link between obesity and the type of bacteria your gut microbiota hosts. People who have moderate body weight host different bacteria than those who are overweight.
Probiotics can support healthy weight by releasing hormones known as glucagon-like peptide-1 and peptide YY.*
How Do They Work?
In order to take effect in the gut, probiotic bacteria have to travel through the gastrointestinal tract. To do this, they need to be able to survive exposure to stomach acid. Stomach acid exists to break down food and kill any bad bacteria that might be present in food.
Since probiotics are live bacteria, there's a chance that the weaker ones could be killed in this process. For this reason, measures need to be taken in order to make sure they have a safe journey, such as choosing a probiotic that has been given an enteric coating to help them along their way.
It's also important for the probiotic bacteria to be viable, which means that they are able to survive and continue to thrive successfully.
After surviving the journey through the stomach acid, they make their way to the small and large intestines where they take up residence. Where the bacteria reside depends on pH levels and the amount of oxygen present, as well as the bacteria inhabiting that specific microbiome.
Once the probiotic bacteria have settled on a place, they begin multiplying and fighting against pathogens for resources, promoting growth for indigenous good bacteria at the same time. This makes it harder for the bad bacteria to survive, in hopes that their number will start decreasing.
The beneficial bacteria continue to multiply until the number of bad bacteria is lowered to the point where a healthy balance is formed.
In the absence of bad bacteria and the toxins they produce, the gut and body will slowly start healing.
The Best Times To Take Probiotics
The best time to take probiotics is as directed on the packaging or as directed by a healthcare provider. However, they tend to offer more benefits when taken in the morning before eating breakfast or at night before bed.
If your stomach is filled with food being digested, it makes it harder for the probiotic bacteria to make it safely to the gut. For this reason, it's best to take probiotics on an empty stomach rather than directly taking your probiotics with food.*
Similarly, taking them at night also raises the success rate, the reason being that your gut is less active at night.
How Many Probiotics Should Be Taken Per Day?
Probiotic doses are measured in CFUs (colony forming units). Dosages can range from 1 billion to 100 billion CFUs.
How much probiotics to take per day varies according to the age and health conditions of the person taking them.
Adults can usually consume between 5 billion and 10 billion CFUs daily to see benefits.* They are generally safe to be taken every day.
Probiotics Side Effects
Probiotics offer various health advantages, but they can have some side effects as well.*
Occasional gas and bloating are common side effects experienced by probiotic users, as well as constipation and thirst. These side effects are mild and should disappear after a few days.
People who are seriously ill or have weakened immune systems should not take probiotics.
Those who suffer from allergies should be sure to check the label of their probiotics to make sure they choose strains that are safe for them to use. Additionally, people who are on medications should consult a healthcare provider before taking probiotics.
Did you find our blog helpful? Then consider checking:
- Can You Take Too Many Probiotics
- Do Probiotics Help With Diarrhea
- Best Probiotics For Weight Loss
- Difference Between Prebiotic And Probiotic
- Probiotic Foods
- Prebiotic Foods
- Probiotics For Vaginal Health
- Benefits Of Probiotics For Women
5 Reasons Your Probiotics Aren't Working and What to Do About It
- Probiotics and Weight Management: What's the Connection?
This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
†Provides weight management support as part of a healthy lifestyle with a reduced calorie diet and regular exercise.