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The Best Time to Take Probiotics to Avoid Side Effects

If you want maximum efficiency from your probiotic supplements, when you take them is crucial. We've written this article to help you figure out when the best time to take a probiotic is.

The Best Time to Take Probiotics

The best time to take probiotics depends on what kind of probiotic you have. The reason why is that probiotics are killed off by the acid inside the stomach. Probiotics need to make it past stomach acid and into the gut to be effective. Some probiotics have a coating that protects the probiotics inside from stomach acid. These are commonly marketed as having "stomach-acid resistant, delayed release" features or having an "enteric coating."

1. Probiotics with Stomach Acid Resistant/Delayed Release - Take Anytime

If you have a stomach-acid resistant capsule or some other enteric-coating/delayed release system protecting your probiotics then you can take your probiotic anytime.

We recommend taking these protected probiotics before bed on an empty stomach to reduce the chances of bloating, gas, or other side effects associated with probiotic usage. Furthermore, probiotics with a stomach acid resistant capsule or enteric coating can be take with or without food.

2. Unprotected Probiotic Powders, Gummies and Chewables - Take 30 Minutes Before Meals

Things change if you have unprotected probiotics. According to a study1 using a simulated digestive tract, you can maximize probiotic survival by taking your probiotic supplement 30 minutes before a meal.

This same study also found that consuming probiotics with milk will increase the number of probiotics delivered to the gut. Juice and plain water decreased Lactobacilli probiotic survival by 100 fold decrease and 1000 fold for Bifidobacterium longum probiotics. This makes sense as many probiotics are rich in Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species which thrive in milk.

In the study the difference between taking an unprotected Bifidobacterium longum probiotic before a meal and after a meal is more than a 250 fold difference in concentration of probiotics that make it into the gut.

Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces boulardii probiotic fared better. Both had 10 fold decrease when taken after a meal compared to if it was taken before.  

What if I Feel Bloated After Taking Probiotics 30 Minutes Before Meals?

If your unprotected probiotic causes you to feel gassy and bloated when taken before meals, you may want to consider switching to taking it on an empty stomach before bed. Even though you may not get the best results taking it in this manner, it is better than stopping probiotics completely because you feel gassy or bloated.

Now that you know how you should take your probiotic you should verify what kind of probiotic you have – protected or unprotected – and take them accordingly. If you're interested in the technical details on how the study was done, read on.

The Research Behind The Best Time to Take Probiotics 

The study on optimal probiotic dosing used a pretty ingenious model of the human digestive system to get these measurements. The study found that probiotics are best taken 30 minutes before meals with milk. While the digestive tract model was man-made, the digestive fluids used were genuine, including saliva, acids, bile, and enzymes.

Researchers used a commercial probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus helveticusLactobacillus rhamnosusBifidobacterium longum, and Saccharomyces boulardii to determine the best time to take probiotics. The probiotics were put into capsule form and were put through the in-vitro model along with various food and drink products.

Several types of bacteria are categorized as probiotics, and they each come with their own benefits. The most common types of probiotics include:

  • Lactobacillus – Potentially the most common family of probiotics, Lactobacilli are found in yogurt, kefir, and most other fermented foods. Strains of Lactobacillus can help with diarrhea and general digestive health. Some may even help those who are lactose intolerant by breaking down lactose for your body.
  • Bifidobacterium – Bifidobacteria are the second most common probiotic strain and can be found in certain dairy products. They have also been studied for its use in supporting digestive health, particularly irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Saccharomyces boulardii – Unlike Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, which are probiotic bacteria Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic yeast which has been clinically proven to reduce the duration of diarrhea.

The Results

By sampling and quantifying how much probiotic was alive after making its way through the model, researchers found that the greatest amount of probiotic survived when taken 30 minutes before a meal or when taken with a meal consisting of oatmeal-milk or 1% milk by itself.

When probiotics were given 30 minutes after the meal, not as much probiotic survived. Probiotics were also given in “meals” containing spring water or apple juice, but not as many of the microorganisms survived as in the oatmeal and milk cohorts.

The researchers concluded that it was the fat content—not the protein element—that made the difference in the other types of probiotics’ survival. 
The one exception to these findings was the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii, which thrived no matter when it was consumed or with what foods.

Understanding the right dosage and the right timing can help you get the most out of your probiotics, ensuring that they help your digestive health without causing undesired side effects.

While this study was on unprotected probiotic capsules without a stomach-acid resistant coating, the results for capsules with stomach acid protection will be different. The instructions of Nexabiotic Advanced probiotics which feature delayed-release capsule to protect the probiotics inside from stomach acid are different to minimize probiotic side effects.

Protected probiotics with delayed release mechanisms gives you more flexibility in consuming probiotics. They also ensure maximum effectiveness by protecting the probiotics inside from stomach acid.

Sources:

  1. https://www.wageningenacademic.com/doi/abs/10.3920/BM2011.0022