What is the Best Time to take Probiotics? The Expert Answer

Taking a probiotic supplement can produce significant benefits – especially for women.

However, if you search for ‘best time to take a probiotic?’ there are VERY different opinions. So, we went to the logical expert source – the University of Nebraska library. Because this university has been researching probiotics – and the best strains – longer and more intensely than any other.

The basic answer is:

Take your probiotic just after a meal – either breakfast or dinner. Don’t take with a hot drink like coffee – and make sure the time is consistent each day.

But why this answer, when other internet sources say take on an empty stomach?

The Logic of Timing

The seeming logic of taking a probiotic on an empty stomach is that the stomach is less acidic then – and stomach acids can kill probiotics.

However, this misses the point that when you eat food, the stomach may indeed produce acid to aid digestion – but the acid is diluted (soaked up) by the food. So, the actual level of acid in the stomach is lower and the gut environment more hospitable.

Moreover, a study published in Beneficial Microbes shows probiotic supplements may be best taken with or after a meal containing fat. Why? Because fat helps keep the stomach less acidic, which ensures more bacteria from the probiotic supplements survive long enough to reach the large intestine. 

There is another reason.

The hardiest strains of probiotic are called ‘spore-based probiotics’, of which Bacillus Coagulans ProDURA™ is a unique and particularly well-researched strain, with multiple health benefits.  This type of probiotic has a strong acid-resistant outer shell and is better taken with or after food. As one expert puts it: “They use food to ‘hitchhike’ down to the large intestine”.

Quality and Strains are Key

The quality of your probiotic is a big factor in how much good bacteria makes it to your large intestine.

A reputable manufacturer will put higher amounts of probiotics in their capsules than claimed to guarantee that the amount of CFUs (Colony Forming Units) in each tablet lasts throughout its shelf life.

In addition, certain strains have been subject to far more research than others. For example, Lactobacillus Acidophilus DDS-1 was developed at the University of Nebraska as an extremely hardy strain. They also worked on Bacillus Coagulans ProDURA™.

Both these strains – plus 7 other hardy strains – are in the multi-strain probiotic supplement Microbiotic Plus, which also delivers 12 billion CFUs per capsule. They are all strains originating in the human digestive tract, so they are inherently resistant to stomach acid.

PS: Antibiotics, Anti-fungal medications and Butyrate

If you’re on antibiotics, don’t take probiotics at the same time. Because the “good bacteria” risk being killed off by the antibiotic treatment. However, it is definitely worth taking a probiotic after the end of the antibiotic course to support the repopulation of healthy gut bacteria.

Probiotics should also be taken separately from anti-fungal medications such as fluconazole, clotrimazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole and nystatin.

Finally, Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium bifidum are strains that promote the creation of butyrate. Butyrate is a fatty acid that can regulate your body’s response to insulin, thereby helping you maintain a healthy blood sugar level. It’s also important in helping heal a leaky gut.

This article was written by Colin Rose, a Senior Associate Member of the Royal Society of Medicine, who has been writing on health science for over 30 years.


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