So much in life relies on timing, and taking probiotic supplements is no exception. If you want maximum efficiency from your probiotic supplements, when you take them is crucial. When looking at probiotic labels, you might see various suggestions about when to take these beneficial microorganisms, and they all conflict.What’s the best way to take probiotics? A scientific study using an in-vitro Digestive System model of the upper human gastrointestinal tract 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.
The Probiotic Test
Researchers used a commercial probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium longum, and Saccharomyces boulardii. The probiotics were put into capsule form and were put through the in-vitro model along with various food and drink products.
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.
Deciding What Meal to take your Probiotic with
For best results, take your probiotic supplement 30 minutes beforehand or immediately before your meal. The authors of the study harped on the importance of consuming fats with your probiotic but it may be milk that supports the highest amount of probiotic growth. This makes sense as many probiotics are rich in Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species which thrive in milk.
If you forget to take your probiotic before or during a meal, it’s okay to take it afterwards. Not as much probiotic will survive but you will still getting a substantial amount.
You should aim to take your daily probiotic at the meal in which you are most likely to consume some fat. For many people, that’s virtually every meal, but for those on fat-restricted diets, one of the day’s meals may contain more fats than others. While most people consume different types of lunches or dinners on a daily basis, breakfasts are more likely to remain similar throughout the week. If you prefer oatmeal, cereal with milk, or coffee or tea with a splash of milk in your morning meal, that’s a good time to take your probiotic. If you make a routine of taking your probiotic first thing in the morning and then having breakfast, you’re not only optimizing the best time to take probiotics but putting together a convenient schedule so you won’t forget to take your supplement.