Timing Probiotic Supplement Intake

April 14th, 2015
time probiotic supplements

With a lot of supplements on the market, the time of day you take them does not make a whole lot of difference.  Some do require or suggest taking the supplement with a meal but for the most part, it is up to you.  This is one area where probiotics are nothing like the other supplements out there.  Probiotics are living and because of this, there are certain rules to consuming them that make them completely unique. Keeping in mind that these good bacteria are only effective if they remain alive,  it is very important to time your intake of the probiotic at the time when the most bacteria will survive.  There are parts of your body that will make this a very difficult task.  The stomach will throw down some acid, the intestines will then surround them with digestive enzymes and if those don’t kill them off, there are the bile salts to look forward to. So how do any of them make it through alive?  Timing.  Several theories and thoughts exist.  Probiotics are relatively new to most people and when to take them is debated.  The idea is to take them when the acidity of the stomach is lowest.  Here are suggested times. Bedtime It is really up to you when you decide to take them but there are certain times that taking them have a greater effect than others.  If you want the best chance for survival, before bed is the prime time to take the probiotics. At bed time, your chances of eating anytime soon is slim, so stomach acids are at a low.  This is ideal for the probiotics journey through the stomach and beyond.  Out of all the times you can take a probiotic, this is the absolute best time. Morning Taking the probiotic first thing in the morning is also a decent idea, but, when you wake up and are hungry, the stomach “growls”, which is acid releasing, and you have a better chance than taking them while actually eating but worse chance than at bedtime. Before Meals It makes sense that when you are eating a meal, the stomach acids are on high power to break down the foods you just ate.  Those broken down foods then head to the intestines for an enzyme bath.  Finally to the colon to get blasted with bile salt.  This process is efficient, tough and little, if anything living, survives this.  Probiotics, though helpful to the body, are not singled out as the good guys and so, they are sent through this process along with everything else.  They key to getting the probiotics to their destination, alive, is to take them before your meal.  Taking them about a half an hour before a meal gives them a head start on the whole digestive process.  It allows them the ability to slip through a miniscule amount of acids, enzymes and salts and assure the survival rate of the majority of the good bacteria. During Meals It has also been suggested that you can take them during a meal – with a meal that includes fats of some sort.  Milk, for example, has fat in it and helps keep the acid busy or at bay while the probiotic passes through.  This was shown to be an effective way to help the probiotic through, but without a source of fat for protection, the result was not as positive.   After Meals Another time would be after eating.  Once you have eaten your meal, your stomachs PH level is high (high PH = low acid).  There should be less acid activity than before a meal and less effect on the probiotic. So as you can see, there are several options.  Of all the experts, physicians, trainers, nutritionists, etc. the general consensus is that bedtime seems to be the best bet for probiotic survival.  It is possible to take it at other times and have it be effective, but not as effective as taking it at bedtime.  The other thing that they all agree on is that it is better to take them when you can and risk some of the probiotics make it through than not taking them at all. Another issue to note is that if you are taking antibiotics, you will want to be very aware of when you take them and your probiotics.  The probiotics are most effective 2 hours before or two hours after taking your antibiotics dosage.  This is a very important time to take probiotics – this is when probiotics can step up to the plate and hit a homerun.  The introduction of antibiotics to the system causes the natural bacteria to be completely out of balance.  There is a wiping out of good and bad bacteria which results in unpleasant after effects such as diarrhea and sometimes urinary tract infections in women.  Taking a probiotic returns the good bacteria to the digestive system and helps to stop these side effects of antibiotics. The digestive tract is huge and is where almost 2/3 of the immune system is located.  When this system is not running properly it effects your body’s entire overall health.  Taking a probiotic keeps this system in balance and helps prevent illness. The jury is still out on what exactly probiotics can do.  So much research is still needed to say definitively what every area is that benefits from probiotics.  Some of the positive body responses that have been noted have been:   Post antibiotic recovery, strengthening the immune system, promotes regularity, decrease in lactose intolerance, helps process different vitamins and minerals and clear, blemish-free skin.  Probiotic studies are continuing because of such wonderful results and they continue to work on ways to help insure the probiotics make it through the body’s system.  One option being discussed is a thicker gelatinous pill shell that would slow down the effects of acids and enzymes.  This gives the probiotics an even better chance to do its magic within your body. Probiotics are an excellent addition to your health and whatever time you decide works best for you, rest assured your body will benefit from the good bacteria – maybe in ways you didn’t even know.