Probiotics are a common topic of conversation in health circles these days, and for good reason. Multiple studies have found improvement in conditions from gut issues to cognition and other mental health conditions.
Medical science takes a cautious approach to assigning benefits to supplements, and rightly so. However, researchers note that probiotics are among today’s most studied supplements. Scientists are looking at how probiotics affect almost every body system.
While research has shown a positive correlation between probiotics and various conditions using different strains of probiotics, researchers are trying to pinpoint which strains are most effective for particular conditions. Nearly every study on probiotics concludes with, “More research is needed.”
The Decision to Take Probiotics
Probiotics are generally considered safe for human consumption. However, those with a compromised immune system, a recent surgery, or a hospital stay should check with their doctor before using probiotics. Regardless of your physical status, it’s a good practice to check in with your doctor before taking any supplement, especially if you take pharmaceutical medications.
Probiotics are live organisms that, once in your system, begin to live and colonize. It is their activity that generates the positive effects on the human body. Many people feel no adverse effects; if they do, they are usually mild and temporary. If uncomfortable symptoms persist beyond two weeks, discontinue the probiotic and see your doctor.
If you’ve decided to try probiotics, you might want to know what happens in your body when you start taking them. We’ve put together this handy guide so you can better understand what it may be like when you begin and how you’ll know if the probiotic is working for you.
What Happens To Your Body When You Start Taking Probiotics?
When you start taking a probiotic supplement, the live organisms in the probiotic supplement affect your whole body. The bacterial colonies in your gut impact your health, from digestion to brain function to skin. Scientists are studying the effects of probiotics on conditions as diverse as irritable bowel syndrome, infant colic, dental disorders, allergies, and depression.
Rebalancing the Gut Microbiome
The makeup of bacteria, yeast, fungi, and parasites in your intestines is called your microbiome. Many organisms in your gut support your health, while others do not.
We live in a world where our bodies deal with pollution, stress, processed foods, antibiotics, and other medications every day. These factors can adversely impact the friendly gut bacteria that keep the pathogenic bacteria in balance.
Harmful bacteria may build up if your gut microbiome is out of balance. Probiotic supplements reintroduce helpful bacteria to your gut, which, among other potential benefits, can help reduce the quantities of pathogenic microorganisms.
You commonly see improved digestion when you introduce friendly bacteria into your system. Probiotic bacteria assist digestion by processing substances like fiber and medications and displacing harmful bacteria, which can help with many intestinal issues. Here are a few:
- Antibiotic-associated diarrhea – Several studies found a decrease in antibiotic-associated diarrhea in those who took probiotics over those who didn’t
- Constipation – Three studies showed that probiotics benefitted children, adults, and older people
- Ulcerative Colitis – A review of 21 studies found that conventional treatment plus probiotics helped create or maintain remission
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – A review of 53 studies involving 5,545 participants noted that probiotics may have beneficial effects on IBS symptoms and abdominal pain, but reviewers were not able to identify which strains were most helpful or draw definite conclusions about effectiveness
Improvement in Bodily Systems
The role gut bacteria play extends far beyond the digestive system. By limiting what types of organisms pass through the intestinal wall they can have a positive effect on your health at various levels, including your immune system, energy levels, appetite regulation, and more.
Improved Gut-Brain Axis
If your body is in good health, your brain typically will be as well, and vice versa. Various studies show associations between mental and gut health, which means probiotics may impact your cognitive function, mood, stress, anxiety, or depression.
Consider an experience of experiencing a shocking incident that “makes you sick” or the stress of making a presentation causing diarrhea. Your gut registers emotion, and the connection is called the gut-brain axis.
6 Signs Probiotics Are Working
With all that in mind, how do you tell when probiotics are working? The impact high-quality probiotics can have is often noticeable. Some people may experience no adverse effects, but some may experience a temporary increase in gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Within about two weeks, those symptoms usually abate, leaving lasting positive effects in their wake. Consider the following:
1. More Regular Bowel Movements
Probiotics are often associated with improved digestion, which may manifest in more regular bowel movements. Research shows that certain probiotic bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium, can decrease the intestinal transit time of stools, which can help with constipation.
2. Reduced Bloating
Reductions in bloating can also indicate that your probiotics are working. One review, for instance, showed improvement in distension, abdominal pain, bowel movement frequency and consistency, and diarrhea.
3. More Energy
Experiencing heightened energy isn’t uncommon when it comes to starting probiotics. Some individuals with chronic fatigue may see a noticeable change, with studies showing a correlation between gut health and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This research found that the gut microbiome in patients with CFS was abnormal, suggesting that rebalancing the bacterial composition in the gut could help with fatigue.
4. Improved Mood
Various studies have indicated a connection between the gut and the brain. Your body is better positioned to support brain health if you have a healthy gut. This impact can be significant, with some studies even showing that rebalancing your gut microbiome could help with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
5. Improved Immune Function
Finally, the immune system and the gut are also connected. Probiotic bacteria help protect your intestinal lining, preventing certain microorganisms from entering the bloodstream. Along with the effect probiotics have on the levels of harmful bacteria in your gut, this capability can help improve immune function. Studies even show that probiotics play a small role in preventing upper respiratory diseases such as the common cold.
6. Reduced Appetite, Body Weight, and Belly Fat
Scientists still don’t fully understand how probiotics impact appetite and body weight, but the results seem related to the strain of bacteria involved. However, they suspect the friendly bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids, inhibit dietary fat absorption, release appetite-regulating hormones, and increase levels of fat-regulating proteins.
If you’re looking for probiotics that can help support your overall health, know that not all probiotics are equal. The higher the supplement’s quality, the better the likelihood you’ll see positive results and fewer side effects. As you look for a probiotic supplement, consider the following:
- Is it hypoallergenic? Products that contain allergens like dairy or wheat can trigger allergies
- Is it free of chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, and artificial additives?
- Does it contain live organisms?
- Is it designed to enable them to bypass harsh stomach acids and reach your gut?
Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics
Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics are among the purest available. Dr. Ohhira formulates these pure, natural probiotics using the latest science and technology alongside ancient Japanese wisdom. Here are a few highlights:
- They contain 12 bacterial strains to create healthy microbiome diversity
- They contain prebiotics, which provide food for the bacteria so they can flourish as they reach the large intestine and colon
- During their three-year fermentation process, the probiotic cultures generate post-biotic metabolites, mimicking the fermentation process in the human body that creates the health-producing results of probiotics
To learn more, contact Essential Formulas.
FAQs About Starting Probiotics
Does your body need time to adjust to probiotics?
Possibly. After introducing more beneficial bacteria into your system, bloating and constipation may occur from the action of the newly introduced bacteria. Many people experience no symptoms and those who do usually find them temporary. If adverse symptoms last longer than two weeks, you should stop taking the probiotic and talk with your doctor.
How long does it take for your body to adjust to probiotics?
It can take a couple of weeks for your gut to settle into a new balance, after which any adverse side effects should disappear. If they persist, you may need to stop the probiotic and discuss probiotic use with your doctor.
Do probiotics help with colds?
Studies have shown that probiotics have a marginal effect on your body’s ability to ward off the common cold.
What happens when you take a probiotic daily?
Probiotics help regulate digestion and various bodily functions, such as your immune system and brain function. Usually, the results are positive improvements to your overall health.
Who should not take probiotics?
Individuals with severely compromised immune systems, pancreatitis, or open surgical wounds may need to avoid taking probiotic supplements.
What happens when you stop taking probiotics?
Your gut will likely revert to its pre-supplementation state within a few weeks.
- NCBI: Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation
- NCBI: Probiotic supplementation decreases intestinal transit time: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
- NCBI: Systematic review: probiotics in the management of lower gastrointestinal symptoms – an updated evidence‐based international consensus
- ScienceDaily: Chronic fatigue syndrome is in your gut, not your head
- ScienceDirect: Gut-brain axis: diet microbiota interactions and implications for modulation of anxiety and depression
- PubMed: Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis