If you want maximum efficiency from your probiotic supplements, when you take them is crucial. One probiotic will recommend that you take it a certain way and another will recommend that you take it in a different manner. We've written this article to help you figure out when the best time to take a probiotic is.
Best Time to Take Probiotics
So when is the best time to take probiotics? According to a study1 involving a simulated digestive tract and lab measurements of probiotic activity after the simulated gut "consumed a probiotic," you can maximize probiotic survival by taking your probiotic supplement 30 minutes before a meal or right before your meal.
The study also found that consuming probiotics with milk will increase the number of probiotics delivered to the gut, where they are needed. Juice and plain water diminished Lactobacilli probiotic survival by 2 log points (100 fold concentration) decrease and 3 log points (1000 fold concentration decrease) for Bifidobacterium longum probiotic. This makes sense as many probiotics are rich in Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species which thrive in milk.
What if I Forget to Take My Probiotic Before a Meal?
If you forget to take your probiotic before or during a meal, it's okay to wait until the next meal. If you forget to take it before all meals you can also take it’s also okay to take it before a snack.
Because probiotics can cause bloating, some people prefer taking probiotics before bed on an empty stomach. Since these probiotics are not taken before a meal, not as much probiotic will make it to the gut. This is especially true for probiotics with an enteric coating as the study found.
In the study the difference between taking an unprotected Bifidobacterium longum probiotic before a meal and after a meal is about 2.4 log points or 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 a 1 log point or 10 fold difference.
If you're interested in how the study was done, read on. Otherwise, check out our article on the side effects of probiotics and what you can do to minimize them, including taking your probiotic at a different time.
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 helveticus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium 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.
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 an enteric coating, we incorporated these findings into the dosing instructions of Nexabiotic Advanced probiotics which feature delayed-release capsule to protect the probiotics inside from stomach acid.
The delayed release mechanism minimizes the effects of taking probiotics at different times which gives you, the consumer, more flexibility in consuming our probiotic. We were also sure to incorporate stomach-acid resistant strains such as Saccharomyces boulardii, Bacillus coagulans, and Bacillus subtilis into the formula.