The Best And Worst Time of Day to Take Your Probiotics
You’ve probably heard a million times by now how important your gut health is for your overall well-being. That's because the healthy bacteria (probiotics) that live in your digestive system play a big role in keeping your gut healthy1.
Probiotics help your gut to digest food, eliminate microorganisms that can trigger disease, manage digestive conditions, and produce vitamins2. Your body has both good and bad bacteria, but as long as the two are in balance, your immune system will stay strong.
It’s no wonder many people have added probiotic supplements to their daily health routines. But most people have no idea when to take their probiotic supplements. The morning? Before you go to bed? Well, it turns out that when we take our probiotic supplements can have a big impact on their performance.
When Not to Take Probiotic Supplements
Most experts and studies assert that if there’s one time of day not to pop your probiotic supplement, it’s first thing in the morning (before breakfast).
Probiotics are living organisms that need food, water, and warmth to survive and multiply. In the morning, conditions in your body are not optimal for taking probiotics because there isn't enough food or water for the bacterial strains to flourish.
Another reason is that your stomach is more acidic when empty. The powerful acid in the digestive system is meant to break down and disintegrate materials. This environment makes it harder for probiotics to survive, so fewer make it through the stomach to the intestines.
When to Take Probiotic Supplements
After you eat breakfast, your stomach’s pH rises and provides a much less acidic environment for probiotics to survive. When you consume probiotics with food, you are providing a buffering system for the supplement to ensure that it makes it to your digestive system. Taking probiotics after breakfast also provides your probiotic with the proper nourishment it needs to survive, grow, and multiply once in your gut.
A study published in the journal Beneficial Microbes found that probiotics taken right after a meal survived in much higher numbers than those taken 30 minutes after a meal3. This is because the pH of your stomach becomes more acidic 30 minutes after consuming food.
The study also noted that probiotics taken with food containing healthy fats had the greatest survival rates.
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1. The Impact of the Gut Microbiota on Human Health: An Integrative View, 16 March 2012
2. The gut microbiota and inflammatory noncommunicable diseases: associations and potentials for gut microbiota therapies, 2015 Jan;135(1):3-13; quiz 14. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2014.11.012
3. The impact of meals on a probiotic during transit through a model of the human upper gastrointestinal tract, 2011 Dec 1;2(4):295-303. doi: 10.3920/BM2011.0022