When is the best time to take probiotics? When using a probiotic supplement in the form of a capsule—as opposed to getting probiotics from fermented foods—when is the best time to take the capsule? This is a confusing topic for many. Some supplements instruct you to take it after a meal, while others instruct you to take it on an empty stomach. So which is it? And does it even matter? Let’s take a look at the science covering the best time to take probiotics to find out. But first, if you’re new to probiotics, let’s quickly go over what they are and what they do.
What are Probiotic Supplements?
Microorganisms can be split into three categories: bad, good, and neutral (neither bad nor good). Having too much bad bacteria can lead to poor digestion, a compromised immune system, and illnesses. Good bacteria, on the other hand, supports your health. An imbalance takes place when your body has too much bad bacteria or too little good bacteria.
Many natural health experts believe that all disease starts with an unhealthy gut—meaning if you have a gut bacteria imbalance, you may be more susceptible to disease.
Imbalances can happen for a number of reasons. To start with, there are maternal reasons for bacteria imbalances. If a mother has a bacterial imbalance, the imbalance can be passed on. Also, using formula doesn’t allow bacteria to be passed on through the mother’s milk at all.
Another problem is a bad diet. Eating excessively fatty and sugary foods can feed bad bacteria while starving good bacteria, creating an overgrowth of harmful microbes.
Medications are also notorious for killing off good bacteria. Antibiotics, though designed to kill off bad bacteria, also kill off good bacteria. This is why antibiotics often cause diarrhea—good bacteria are vital for proper digestion.
Other substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs can harm your gut flora too. While the reasons are not yet clear, exercise is essential for keeping your gut bacteria at a healthy balance as well.
The solution is to get enough good bacteria to restore the balance. Good forms of microorganisms are considered probiotics. Probiotics are living microbes which you consume to benefit your gut’s balance of bacteria and improve your health.
You can get probiotics naturally from fermented foods including sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt. However, many people find it difficult to consume enough of these healthy probiotic foods on a regular basis to have a significant impact on their gut flora.
This is where probiotic supplements come in. Probiotic supplements are living organisms which are packed into a capsule. You can take these to help restore your gut balance or keep an already balanced gut.
The question is, when is the best time of the day to take probiotics? Is the best time to take probiotics before or after meals? On an empty stomach or with meals? In the morning or in the evening? After decades of asking these questions, recently a research group set out to find the best time to take probiotics once and for all.
The Best Time to Take Probiotics
There are very few human trials on dietary supplements—which includes probiotics. However, in 2011 there was an incredible study published which discovered the best time to take probiotics by simulating the human gut.
In this study, researchers built a synthetic digestive tract with intestines and a stomach. Although the digestive tract components were fake, they used real human saliva, acid, bile, digestive enzymes, and other fluids essential to digestion.
This allowed them to do a minute-by-minute assessment of the probiotics in different scenarios: on an empty stomach, right before a meal, with a meal, right after a meal, before having a beverage, etc.
The goal was to assess the survival of different healthy gut bacteria over time to determine which time is best to take probiotics. The result showed that there were two optimal times.
The first is taking a probiotic capsule less than 30 minutes before having a meal or beverage with at least a small amount of fat content. The second is taking a probiotic capsule at the same time as eating a meal or drinking a beverage with some fat.
So it seems that the best time to take probiotics is always with a meal. But what about the time of day? Unfortunately, no study currently tells us what time of day to take probiotics. So the best time of day to take probiotics is simply whenever you’re about to eat or when you’re eating, until more research is done. If a probiotic supplement company states that you should take it on an empty stomach or not with a meal, it should raise some questions.
Probiotics undoubtedly are a vital part of maintaining a healthy body and mind. In fact, there are 10x more microbial cells in the human body than there are human cells. Our bodies are a living ecosystem that needs regular maintenance. Yet, often we do more harm than good to our personal ecosystems by introducing toxins such as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics, GMOs and more into our bodies.
At Intrinsic Nutrition, our goal is to help you reach your health goals. To do that, we provide probiotics and other supplements to support and boost your health. Whatever your health goal is—lose weight, fight disease, build a sharper mind, gain a renewed youthful energy—our supplements may be the help you need.
If you’re not sure where to start, we have articles covering the basics of everything from probiotics to turmeric to keto supplements. The best part is, all of our products are certified organic and are free of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, GMOs, and other toxins you don’t need in your body.
We highly recommend looking into probiotics for your health. And now that you know the best time to take probiotics, the next step is getting your hands on top-tier probiotics. In our online store, we have several doctor-formulated probiotics to choose from including probiotics for adults, probiotics for children, and high-potency probiotics. Give one a try and see how it benefits your health.