Some of us are pretty impatient when it comes to trying a new health product, and we don’t blame you. It’s exciting to see new, positive changes in your body and you want to know what to expect so we’ve done a little research into when you should notice your probiotic supplements improving your health. You’ve got a lot to look forward to, read on to check out what’s in store.
What are probiotics?
In your large and small intestines, you have over 400 species of good bacteria with a mix of over 40 trillion good and bad bacterial cells. Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that aid in your digestion and optimal absorption of nutrients from all the foods and supplements you consume. Groups of these friendly bacteria are referred to as ‘gut flora’ and consist of strains of bacteria, yeast and live microorganisms.
Probiotics are vital to great digestion but also for the correct function of 70% of the body’s immune system. Having a balance of good and bad bacteria means your body should be working to keep away nasties and make sure the balance isn’t thrown off in your gut. Probiotics also help to regulate hormones, especially in women and assist with the production of vitamins such as A, K and B1. We’ll discuss more on what probiotics can do for you in the section below.
Probiotics can be found in foods such as:
- Kombucha (fermented drink)
If you’re going to be getting your probiotics from food, it’s a great idea to introduce some prebiotics into your diet as well. Prebiotics are indigestible fibres that are basically fuel for your probiotics and will give them the best chance at working optimally in your body, as explained in this medical analysis. Foods like bananas, garlic, asparagus and onions are rich in prebiotics and most likely already stocked in your kitchen at home.
How can probiotics help me?
Not everyone has the perfect diet and perfect workout routine. You have cheat meals, days when you’re feeling lazy and want to make a big bowl of pasta instead of an elaborate, healthy meal and days when you’re simply just under the weather. It’s totally normal, there’s no shame in it!
If you’re lacking that balance in your life, a great option for you is to get some more probiotics into your system. It’s going to help your immune system, digestion, allow your body to extract the most nutrients out of your food and the list goes on.
Even if your health and diet is top notch, a probiotic hit may help you get over a weight loss plateau, past that last hurdle and towards your health goal and just generally make you feel that extra bit healthier. Probiotics really can benefit everyone.
Other everyday factors like being stressed, getting over a bad illness or infection, coming off a course of antibiotics. Anything that throws your body’s good and bad bacteria out of whack, can be combated with the introduction of probiotics. Without them, you may experience things like diarrhea (viral) infections, brain fog, frequent flus and colds – these are all signs that there’s too much bad bacteria populating your gut.
With introducing a probiotic, you don’t need to worry about overdoing it as long as you read and follow the label correctly, being sure to take your supplement as directed or directly after meals for best results. The reason for this is, probiotics don’t hang out in your body for too long. They populate the gut and then are flushed out with daily bodily functions, taking lots of the bad bacteria with them. A daily probiotic will help maintain the good bacteria population in your gut, consistency is key!
Here’s just a few of the conditions that probiotics are claimed to assist with treating:
- Immune health
- Development of allergies and reducing sensitivity to the trigger
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Oral health
- Common cold/flu
- Urinary/vaginal health (prevents thrush)
If you’re not sure whether a probiotic supplement could help in your everyday life, definitely have a chat to your doctor. They’ll be able to run you through their benefits and how they will specifically help you with your health concerns, how to use them and which brands they recommend professionally. If you’re getting your probiotic for a specific health concern, be sure to discuss what strains will best benefit you as you’ll want to purchase a supplement with an abundance of appropriate probiotic strains.
Will I notice changes immediately?
We get it, you’ve got this new, exciting probiotic supplement and you’ve heard great things so you want to know exactly when you’ll see those great things. Well keep in mind that nothing is a miracle cure but it all really depends on who you are, what you’re taking your probiotics for and which probiotic supplement you’re ingesting.
A fast response to probiotics, is generally considered to be within a day to a couple weeks of first starting the new supplement, but often you can even start to notice small improvements within a couple hours. There are a number of things that can affect this:
- Quality of the probiotic supplement – If you’ve got a high quality probiotic, that’s got a load of colony forming units (CFU’s) and technology that stops your stomach acid from killing them off on their way through to your intestines, then you may notice results within the first few hours. Particularly a drop in inflammation and a boost in digestion efficiency.
- Pre-existing conditions – If you’ve got an illness or infection that you’re taking probiotics specifically for, you may also notice a change within the first few hours. This is because the probiotics are healing you from the inside out so small symptoms may reduce rapidly and larger, more serious symptoms will be reduced over the first few weeks.
- Diet – If you have a poor diet, probiotics will still help your overall health but you will see results slower than if you were eating a healthy, balanced diet. The reason for this is, with the healthy diet you are naturally ingesting more vitamins and minerals so the probiotics are able to assist with the absorption of these for great results, fast. Reduce high fat and high sugar foods to avoid encouraging bad bacteria in your gut.
- Other medications – If you’re taking any kind of medication which increases acidity in your stomach, your probiotics will have a smaller chance of getting through the body safely. They may be killed off before they can get to work so any results can be hindered and take longer to see.
- Exercise – When you exercise, you burn off calories and all your bodily functions are working efficiently. Being sedentary causes them to slow down their functions which could mean your probiotic supplement isn’t transported through your body as quickly as it could be so results may be delayed.
- Strains – If you’re using a probiotic supplement that has a strain or several strains specific to the medical conditions you’re trying to treat, you’re likely to get faster results. Targeted treatment like this will help your body zero in on your health concern and focus on getting you better as quick as possible.
Tips and tricks for purchasing your probiotic supplements
So if we’ve convinced you to get aboard the probiotic train to better health, take a look at this list and check each point off when purchasing your probiotics to get the best supplement possible.
- Get the highest culture count – Aim for the most colony forming units (CFU’s) to get the best effects. When starting off, it might be good to start around 30-50 billion so your body can get used to the dosage. Then up the ante, some brands can even contain over 200 billion CFU’s!
- Get the correct strains – If you’re getting a probiotic supplement for a specific health concern, do your research and purchase a supplement with the correct strains to target those areas you need help with. However, if it’s just for overall health, aim for more than 10 different strands so you’ve got a good variety. As a general rule, make sure that all strains are in the Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, E. Coli and Bifidobacterium species – these are native, friendly bacteria.
- Effective capsules – Acid kills off probiotics very easily and you’ve got a lot of acid in your stomach. So make sure the probiotic you’re getting has technology in the capsules to protect the good bacteria on the way to your gut.
- Shelf life and refrigeration – If your probiotic needs to be refrigerated, make sure it was in a fridge when you purchased it at the store and get a bottle that’s furthest away from it’s expiry date to ensure maximum potency of the product.
- Check the label – Always read the label and avoid extra ingredients or fillers. Opt for one that’s got prebiotics, vitamins and minerals for an extra health kick.
- Daily dose – For your probiotic supplement to be most effective, you have to remain consistent. Get a once daily dose product to keep you on track and make everything as easy as possible.
Whether you’re wanting to treat a pre-existing medical issue that’s affecting your lifestyle, or if you just want a great boost for your health and wellbeing and to capitalize on all the effort you put into living a healthy life, probiotics are the way to go.
Remember to be patient and that they’re not necessarily a miracle cure. Depending on you and your body, you can expect to see results within as little as a couple hours. Give it a minimum of two weeks to experience the full results though, it’s definitely worth the wait!