Probiotics include a variety of good bacteria responsible for keeping your gut in healthy balance. A disruptive gut may lead to serious health issues, including diarrhea, constipation, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, and skin problems. It's probably one of the primary reasons why you started using probiotic supplements in addition to any other tricks you've tried (like probiotic-rich foods).
But is there a way to determine whether these supplements are working or not? Well, multiple signs can provide you with peace of mind. But before we start talking about these signs, let's look at how probiotics work.
How do Probiotics work?
Here's what happens when probiotics enter your body:
Surviving the acidic stomach environment is the most challenging part of a probiotic supplement's journey. The probiotics need to reach the gut alive - otherwise, they aren't helpful. While the stomach acid is responsible for preventing foodborne diseases by killing pathogens, your stomach acid can kill both harmful bacteria and good probiotic bacteria.
Therefore, you must consider choosing robust strains of bacteria that can naturally fight off acidic conditions. Furthermore, it would help if you took probiotics with (or right after) breakfast because acid levels tend to be lower in the morning.
Choosing a Habitat for Rapid Growth
After passing this test, the probiotics start entering the gut, where some strains take up residence in small intestines for a short period while others move towards the large intestine. The strains choose their residence depending on the environment that's most suitable for them. Once their location is established, the probiotics start growing in numbers and increasing your gut bacteria levels.
Fighting off Pathogens (Bad Bacteria)
Now the real fight begins! Probiotics need to fight off harmful bacteria to compete for food and enough space to live. Probiotics also discourage the growth of pathogens by producing certain acids.
In simple terms, the probiotics are fighting for their survival, but by doing so, they also improve the gut environment. As a result, other types of good bacteria also start growing in numbers which ultimately improves the health of our gut microbiome.
Finally, we start to experience a significant change in our overall health. But the question is, how do we determine whether the change is associated with probiotics or some other process?
11 Signs Probiotics are Working
Now you understand how probiotics work in your body, let's take a look at the signs that show whether your probiotics are working or not.
Digestive conditions like gas, constipation, bloating, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues are global problems. These conditions are a clear sign of poor gut health because your digestive system doesn't have enough good bacteria to help digest food. Once you start using the right probiotic supplement, that healthy bacteria will solve those problems, making you feel lighter and at your best.
Probiotics don't just help with digestion - they also boost the production of vitamins and nutrients within your body. Your body's ability to fight against digestive diseases will therefore be improved.
Regular Bowel Movements
Probiotics fix frequent gut issues by killing pathogenic bacteria within your intestine. As a result, your bowel movements start getting back to normal. Having regular bowel movements that are of the right consistency is a sign that your probiotics are working perfectly.
More than 70% of the immune cells in your body are in the gut. A healthy gut is a critical component of strong immune health.
You may have noticed that you're more prone to other illnesses when dealing with digestive problems. Your gut absorbs an essential quantity of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients when it has a perfect balance of good and bad bacteria. It plays a vital role in regulating inflammation and the inflammatory immune response.
If you're suffering from colds, flu, and seasonal allergies more frequently, your gut health is likely off. You may want to take probiotic supplements to fight off bad bacteria in your gut.
Bacteria don't just exist in your gut. They're found in other parts of the body as well. The signs of an imbalanced gut can start appearing on your skin when bad bacteria are growing rapidly. Acne, eczema, rosacea, and inflammation are common skin problems you may experience when your probiotics aren't working.
Some of these skin problems will start fading if you're taking probiotic supplements to improve your gut health.
Increased Cognitive Function
Did you know large food particles, toxins, and pathogens start entering your bloodstream when there is an increased amount of bad bacteria in your gut? Your gut becomes inflamed due to a lack of beneficial bacteria.
These food particles and other harmful objects may also cause inflammation in your brain. It ultimately affects the performance of your cognitive function leading to serious health issues.
Good bacteria can reduce this inflammation by establishing a healthy gut barrier, which starts improving your memory, attention, and focus over time. If you're experiencing these signs after taking probiotic supplements, you can rest assured that your probiotics are working.
What are the most important causes of bloating?
Your irregular bowel movements and gas are the primary reasons you're bloating regularly. Probiotics should fix the root of the problem and allow you to enjoy a healthy life. If your bloating is subsiding, it's a sign that probiotics are doing their job well, and you can continue using them for better health.
Have you ever heard of the gut-brain axis?
It's a partnership between your brain and gut where they both produce neurotransmitters to control different body functions. The area around your stomach (known as the solar or celiac plexus) is the largest nerve plexus after your brain itself. That's why you experience digestive problems when going through stressful times. Your brain and your gut are in constant communication.
Similarly, you can easily become a victim of stress and depression if you're dealing with chronic digestive issues because of the interconnectedness. According to one study, the digestive tract produces more than 90% of the serotonin in the body.
Serotonin is the chemical responsible for maintaining a sense of happiness. The gut also produces dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in our bodies. Dopamine is related to pleasurable sensations, while low levels of GABA are linked to mood disorders. Your gut clearly plays a crucial role in regulating your mood.
If your stressful thoughts are fading away, it's a sign that your gut is getting back to a healthy condition.
Reduced Yeast Infections
Yeast bacteria start gathering in the vagina when you have an imbalanced gut. When you experience yeast infections at regular intervals, probiotics can fix this problem by killing bad bacteria.
If you're worried about whether your probiotics are working or not, you need to observe how frequently these infections happen since you started using probiotic supplements
Increased Energy Levels
An imbalanced gut fails to absorb the essential vitamins and nutrients from your food properly. As a result, you feel tired and dizzy for most of the day. Conversely, healthy gut flora increases our energy levels by producing ample vitamin B in our bodies. There's a strong link between your gut and your energy levels.
Observe how energetic you feel after consuming probiotic supplements to establish if your probiotics are working.
Potential Weight Loss
Your gut flora also directly connects with weight gain, loss, and management. Research shows that gut flora in thinner people is significantly different from overweight people. Your weight is affected by the type of bacteria you have in your body.
Having more bad bacteria will trigger sugar cravings by continuously sending signals to your brain. If your lifestyle has led to bad bacteria being present in your gut, it will be easier to gain weight.
A high-quality probiotic supplement can control these cravings by increasing the number of good bacteria in your body. Long term, this can lead to a reduction in your overall weight
Improved Sleep Quality
Your sleep cycle is badly affected when your gut flora is poor. Improved sleep quality is one of the most effective signs probiotics are working, but it often goes overlooked.
If your sleeping patterns are getting back to normal, you can be confident that your probiotics are working. Here's some more information on getting better sleep and improving your immunity.
Signs Your Probiotics Aren't Working. Is it Time to Switch?
You're using probiotics to fix your digestive issues. Should you stop using them or switch to another option if your existing probiotics don't generate any improvement after a few days?
Probiotics and multivitamins may take some time before they start showing any benefits. Several factors may affect the performance of these health boosters. Probiotics and vitamins follow similar timelines for effectiveness. For more information on how long vitamins take to work, read here.
Some signs help you determine whether it's time to switch your probiotics:
- You don't experience any change in your symptoms of poor gut health after four weeks
- You start experiencing side effects including gas, bloating, and headaches
In some cases, you may experience beneficial side effects of using probiotics. They're signs your body is adapting to the probiotics you're using.
These side effects may include flatulence, mild bloating, and more frequent bowel movements. It's a sign that your body is removing unhealthy bacteria.
These side effects may last for almost a week. If they don't disappear after a full week has passed, you should quit taking the supplements and consult a doctor.
Why Your Probiotics May Not Bet Working, and What to Do
It's frustrating when your probiotics don't show any signs of improvement even after four weeks of use. But before you consider looking for an alternative, you need to understand why your probiotics aren't working.
The Strains Don't Survive in Your Digestive Tract
One of the major reasons why probiotics don't show any fruitful results is that they can't make it through the digestive tract alive. Probiotics will die within your stomach if they aren't strong enough to survive the acidic environment.
If you're considering choosing a different product, you need to look for strong strains that can easily make it through the digestive tract (like spore forming probiotics) or different forms of probiotic intake.
The bacteria won't survive if the probiotics aren't stored in a suitable environment. Storage instructions are always clearly marked on the label. Always ensure you store your probiotics as per the instructions.
Lack of routine
You need to take probiotics regularly if you want them to work effectively. Even if you change the product you use, there won't be any significant changes in your health if you forget to take them.
Set a reminder on your phone to ensure you don't miss a dose. Taking your probiotics every day with your breakfast or afternoon snack is also a good way to remember.
Poor Quality Product
There are so many options available in the market it can be difficult to find a high-quality product. To avoid this problem, consult your healthcare provider to determine which product will be right for you.
Top Probiotic Supplements
When my patients ask which probiotic supplement to take, I recommend Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics. The have a version for men and women.
Other Types of Supplement and Impact on Gut Health
Many pill form supplements can be ineffective or take much longer to work. Furthermore, the hard granular particles in many supplements, especially tablets, may be scratching the lining of your gut and causing inflammation. For this reason, I recommend my patients take supplement in a new gel form. Healthycell makes the best gel supplements that are gut healthy (the gel is made of soluble fibers and prebiotics) and they have 165% more absorption than tablets according to a recent clinical study.
One example is Healthycell's Immune Super Boost.
This immunity booster is packed with many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can revive your immune system efficiently.
The probiotics don't work like a magic wand, and their effects take time to become evident. Probiotics are designed to support the foundation of overall health so be patient!
Start by following the instructions properly. Carefully read the label to find out whether your product contains 100 million Colony Forming Units (CFUs) per gram or not. You should consider switching the product if your current product is offering less than 100 million CFUs. If you're purchasing a probiotic for a child, you need to look for products that have at least 5 billion CFUs in each dose.
Studies show that you can increase your dosage if you aren't experiencing any benefits of probiotics but ensure you wait an appropriate time before adopting this tactic. Gradually make the changes and monitor how you feel.
Make Sure The Product Isn't Expired
The product may have expired, but you didn't notice. Expired products can be one of the major reasons why it doesn't provide the expected results.
Start Taking Your Probiotics With Food
Your probiotics have more chance of reaching their intended destination if consumed with food.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does a Probiotic Take to Work?
Usually, probiotics start showing signs of working after 2-3 weeks if used consistently. It may take around 4-8 weeks on average if your gut microbiome is severely inflamed. Always wait for at least four weeks before deciding.
Will I Feel Different After Taking Probiotics?
Probiotics don't have any serious side effects, but some people may experience unpleasant digestive symptoms, including bloating and increased gas levels. These symptoms are just temporary as your body adjusts.
Do Probiotics Detox Your Body?
The gut is the primary detoxification area of the body. When you start consuming probiotic supplements, the gut flora gets healthier and more effective. In this way, probiotics play an essential role in detoxification.
What Should You Take in Addition to Probiotics
Probiotics should be paired with an effective non-pill multivitamin/multimineral that contains ingredients that are healthy for your gut, like prebiotics. Healthycell makes dietary supplements in a maximum-absorption ingestible gel form called MICROGEL™ that is more natural, gentle, and healthy for your gut. Instead of chemical coatings, fillers and flow agents found in most pills, Healthycell uses gut healthy "other ingredients" including prebiotics like soluble fibers, citrus pectin, and beta glucan. Try Healthycell's Bioactive Multi or Vegan Essentials multivitamins.
In addition, watch out for pill-form supplements that may actually aggravate your gut and cause more inflammation. There is evidence that small, hard particles that make up many pills are scratching the mucosal lining in your gut, leading to more inflammation.
Probiotics can naturally improve your gut health, leading to a happier and healthier life, but it may be difficult to determine whether probiotics work. You now understand the effects of probiotics on your body and hopefully have had a few important questions answered.
You can now determine whether your probiotics are working or not. If you still have any questions about probiotics, please feel free to contact us.
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