In This Article
In This Article
Probiotics, or good gut bacteria, are live microorganisms that maintain the gastrointestinal microbial ecosystem.1 Their functions include:2
Probiotics offer several gut health benefits. These include improved digestion and immunity, as well as mental well-being.
Several sources provide probiotics. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi3 are great sources of probiotics.4
Probiotics are also available as dietary supplements through various strains and doses.5 They come in several forms, such as capsules, powders, and liquids.
“The most widely used probiotics are Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces,” says our in-house medical expert, Dr. Rizza Mira.
Several common types of probiotic bacteria offer significant gut health benefits. They are typically identified by their specific strains.5 The general evidence on the effectiveness of these probiotic strains still requires further research.
The most common microbial organisms found in probiotic products include:
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common genus found in probiotic products.6 They come in several strain variations.
Research has found that the benefits of these probiotics range from the following:6
For instance, Lactobacillus is a group of bacteria commonly found in commercial products. They have been used for centuries in the production of dairy products such as yogurt.
Lactobacillus produces lactic acid. Lactic acid helps colonize bad bacteria in the digestive tract, the mouth, and the vagina.
On the other hand, Bifidobacterium are the first colonizers of infant gut microbiota. Newborns can receive some Bifidobacterium strains through breastfeeding.
Bifidobacterium has several functions, such as:
Other strains of Bifidobacterium can also synthesize B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
Bifidobacterium can also promote mineral absorption by controlling stomach acidity.
The effects and outcomes of probiotic use may vary. These depend on individual factors and the specific probiotic strains consumed.
A common concern shared by people is about determining the optimal time frame for taking probiotics.
The effects of probiotics manifest depending on various factors. It can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks or 6-8 weeks before you see results.7
“This number depends on factors such as age, medical conditions, and the degree of inflammation in the gut,” says Dr. Mira.
However, some people may take probiotics for 6-8 weeks and notice no results. If this is the case, stop taking probiotics or seek professional help.8
Certain health conditions can also determine how long you should be taking probiotics.
Scientists are still determining when and how probiotics should be used. They are also determining how effective probiotics are.9 However, several studies have shed light on this topic.
Some studies suggest that probiotic intake must be continuous. This can help maintain their beneficial effects.
A review examined individuals with IBS who took probiotics. They found that the individuals experienced benefits from probiotics from eight weeks onwards.10
Another study compared those who drank a high-dose probiotic drink for 12 weeks to a placebo group.11 Participants who drank probiotics had reduced incidence of upper respiratory infection.
These studies indicate that regular probiotic supplementation may sustain probiotic population in the gut.
On the other hand, certain studies have shown positive effects even when taking probiotics for a short period of time.
A systematic review found that probiotics could reduce acute diarrhea by 25 hours.12 More research needs to determine who will benefit from probiotics and how cost-effective it is as a treatment.
Overall, the duration of probiotic intake may vary depending on several factors. These include specific health conditions, probiotic strains, and individual factors.
You should take probiotics consistently to reap their benefits and effect. However, certain factors can affect how long and how often you should be using probiotics.
Individual factors that play special importance in taking probiotics include:
For example, health conditions can impact the duration of probiotic use.
Acute conditions may require short-term use. For example, acute diarrhea has been shown to improve within days of probiotic supplementation.7
“This may range from one to two weeks on average, but can change,” says Dr. Mira.
Certain medications, like antibiotics, may also create an unbalanced gut microbiome diversity. Chronic stress, IBS, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can worsen gut microbiome conditions.
Discuss with your healthcare professional how often you should use probiotics, if at all.
If you began taking probiotics and have seen improvements, continued use is recommended.
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The timeframe for probiotics to start taking effect can vary depending on several factors. Understanding these factors can provide a general idea of when probiotics can start working.
Individual responses to probiotics can vary. Some people may experience noticeable improvements within a few days. Others may require several weeks of consistent use before seeing results.
Generally, it can take 2-3 weeks before seeing significant results from probiotic supplements.
“It will take time for the good bacteria to start to repopulate and sustain the balance. This will also allow for some inflammation to decrease to start seeing improvement in symptoms,” says Dr. Mira.
For others, it can take 6-8 weeks before you notice meaningful changes.8
It also depends on different factors, such as gut health and balance or inflammation.
Certain conditions can also influence how quickly results manifest.
For example, researchers found that probiotic supplements help acute diarrhea within a few days.7 Another study found that probiotics can improve severe constipation within four weeks.
Other factors that can influence how fast results can manifest include:7
If you have been using probiotics for weeks and have not noticed any results, it may be best to stop taking them and consult your doctor.8
Monitoring the effectiveness of probiotic supplements is essential. It helps gauge their impact on both your gut health and overall health. Its effect on overall mental health may take a longer time.
Individual responses to probiotic supplementation may vary. However, several signs can indicate whether probiotics are working for you.
Individual responses to how probiotics work can vary, and it may take time to notice the desired effects. It is important to be patient and consistent in your probiotic regimen.
Here are a few positive changes to look out for:
There are several reasons why probiotics may not be working. These can include:15
There are several steps you can take if you have been taking probiotics and haven't observed the desired effects:
Choosing the right probiotic for your needs is crucial to maximizing its potential benefits. Know your health goals, choose the right products, and get probiotics from diverse sources.
The following section will offer tips on how you can choose the right probiotic for you.
To get the most out of your probiotics, consider these helpful tips:
Probiotics are generally considered safe, especially for healthy individuals.9
However, exercise caution when taking probiotics if you experience any of the following:
“Remember that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate probiotics as a medicinal product. Consult your healthcare professional if you have other conditions,” cautions Dr. Mira.
Individuals who first use probiotics may experience minor self-limited gastrointestinal symptoms.5 These range from gas, bloating, or diarrhea. This is due to changes occurring in the gut microbiome.
These side effects should last from a few days to a few weeks.
On rare occasions, probiotics can give rise to other adverse side effects. These include:
Other rare cases of side effects from probiotics include skin issues such as rashes or itchiness. Consider if you are allergic to gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, or lactose. Consult your healthcare provider before taking probiotics.
It's important to note that many people take probiotics and don’t suffer from any side effects.
We advise you to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance. This is important if you experience unusual symptoms after starting probiotics.
There are several ways that you can incorporate probiotics into your daily routine.
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