How Do You Know if You Need Probiotics? (+ Their Benefits)

Probiotics are microorganisms primarily found in your digestive system. They can be found naturally in certain foods like yogurt or taken as a supplement – which is what most people think they actually are. But how do you know if you need probiotics?

Let’s find out.

What are Probiotics?

Often dubbed as “healthy bacteria”, probiotics are live bacteria and yeast, naturally occurring in your digestive system. They work to balance and support the other microorganisms in your gut, helping to keep you healthy and supporting digestion.

While generally found in foods like yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), probiotics are also available in supplement form and are usually taken to support digestive health, boost immunity, or tackle the side effects of strong antibiotics.

What Happens When You Start Taking Probiotics?

After several days of taking probiotics, you may (and probably should) notice changes in your digestive system and overall digestive health.

What actually happens inside your digestive system is that the probiotics help to restore balance in your gut microbiome by boosting the number of beneficial microbes.

For example, the reason why probiotics are useful when taking antibiotics is that they help restore healthy gut bacteria that are actively destroyed by the antibiotics targeting the “bad” bacteria that are causing you issues.

What can physically happen when you start taking probiotics is some minor bloating, flatulence, or diarrhea early on, but all of them are short-lived and should not concern you.

What are the Benefits of Taking a Probiotic Supplement?

Probiotics are thought to have a number of potential health benefits, so taking a probiotic supplement could be a great idea for some people. Here are some of the possible benefits you might experience:

  • Improved digestion: As mentioned, probiotics help balance the bacteria in your gut, which can help with digestion and prevent digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, and bloating.
  • Boosted immune system: Some research suggests that probiotics may help to strengthen the immune system and reduce the frequency of colds and other illnesses. [1]
  • Weight management: Some studies have found that probiotics may help with weight loss. [2] While the exact mechanisms are still being studied, and the evidence supporting this theory isn’t overwhelming or conclusive, it’s still worth noting that probiotics like Lactobacillus could help with weight management.
  • Increased energy: Taking probiotics can help to reduce fatigue and boost your energy levels. This is related to the effect probiotics have on chronic fatigue and discomfort caused by digestive issues.
  • Heart health: Some research suggests that probiotics may have a positive effect on heart health by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. [3]
  • Mental health: Some studies have found that probiotics may have a positive effect on mental health, once again, most likely caused by chronic digestive issues and stomach discomfort.

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that more research is needed to fully understand the effects of probiotics and how they can be used to improve health. But it certainly seems like these could do a lot more than just keep your trips to the bathroom more pleasant.

How Do You Know if You Need Probiotics?

Well, there are several signs that point to the fact that you may benefit from taking probiotics.

Some of these include experiencing occasional (or even frequent) digestive problems like bloating, constipation, or gas, having food intolerances, dealing with digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or diarrhea, or even skin rashes, fatigue, mood swings, sleep troubles, etc.

Another good reason to take probiotics is if you’re taking antibiotics since this can lead to a very significant decrease in the amount of beneficial bacteria in your gut, leading to digestive issues like cramping, diarrhea, or constipation – both mild and severe.

What are the Symptoms of Low Probiotics?

Just like we said, having low levels of probiotics can lead to various issues. Here are some that you should look out for:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Abdominal cramps or pain

Aside from digestive issues, low probiotics can also cause:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Skin rashes
  • Heartburn
  • Mood swings

Can You Benefit from Taking a Probiotic if You Don’t Have a Deficiency?

You probably can’t benefit from taking a probiotic if you already have an adequate amount of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

In fact, taking probiotics on a “healthy stomach” could actually lead to a disbalance of the gut microbiome, which can cause all of the aforementioned digestive issues.

Who Should Not Take Probiotics?

While generally considered very safe, some recent findings suggest that probiotics may be harmful to immunocompromised people with certain conditions and severe illnesses – and should thus be avoided.

Some also urge children and seniors to avoid taking probiotics – at least not without consulting a doctor first.

How Quickly Do Probiotics Work?

It depends.

Probiotics work pretty quickly in some cases. In fact, it usually takes a couple of days for some of the benefits to be noticed if you’re dealing with short-term issues like diarrhea.

However, if you’re taking probiotics for chronic illnesses or ailments, it could take several weeks or even months for the effects to be noticeable.

How Long Should You Take Probiotics For?

You should take probiotics for however long you need to to achieve the desired effect – whether that’s only a couple of days, weeks, or even months.

In other words, it depends.

Generally speaking, most folks in dire need of probiotics will take them for at least four weeks to fully replenish beneficial bacteria in their gut and feel the benefits.

In some cases, probiotics can be used for years on end without any apparent negative effects. However, you should always consult your doctor before you start taking anything.

Should You Take Probiotics Every Day?

Yes, you should take probiotics every day, regardless of whether you have a deficiency or not.

It also doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a short-term issue or a long-term health problem. Having beneficial bacteria in your gut can help prevent digestive issues and support overall wellness – so it’s definitely advised to take probiotics on a daily basis. 

When Should You Take Probiotics Morning or Night?

Both research and anecdotal evidence show that the best time to take probiotics is first thing in the morning, right after you wake up. That said, the same could be said for taking them at night before bedtime.

Can You Take Vitamins and Probiotics Together?

Yes, you can take vitamins and probiotics together.

In fact, it’s actually a good idea to do so, as probiotics can help your body better absorb and utilize the vitamins and minerals you’re getting from your diet or supplements.

Just be sure to follow the recommended dosages for each product, and you should be fine.

Conclusion

Overall, probiotics can be a great way to support your health and well-being, and it’s rather easy to spot whether you need to take them or not. Your body will tell you.

And, while it may take several weeks for some of the benefits to be noticed with chronic ailments, it goes without saying that there are countless benefits of taking probiotics.

Just make sure to consult your doctor before you start using anything, and be sure to follow the recommended dosage.

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