How Do You Know Probiotics Are Working?

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Probiotics are a total lifesaver for all of us. These bits of good bacteria in the gut are important for supporting the healthy gut microbiome, thus keeping you healthy.

There are a number of positive effects that probiotics can have on your body, such as making your digestion better, getting rid of nasty kinds of bacteria and making sure that your bowel movements are regular.

They are also important for giving support to your immune system and may be helpful for people that are trying to lose weight.

This article will help you know if probiotics are working for you or not.

Knowing Whether Probiotics Are Working: A Complete Guide

There are multitudes of good bacteria in your gut that all have different roles and functions. Some of them manage how you absorb nutrients and digest food and others are there to support your immune system.

This is what we know to be our gut microbiome.

There are things like your diet that can influence your gut microbiome. For instance, if you eat a diet riddled with foods that have been too highly processed, or you have taken particular medications, you may find that the bacteria living in your gut are a little disturbed.

This can be somewhat problematic and can result in problems like discomfort in your gut, more common illnesses, bowel movement issues and even allergies.

As such, probiotics have become incredibly popular on the market. But what are they?

Probiotics are basically supplements that you can take in addition to your regular diet that contain these healthy bacteria in your gut.

They are designed to make your gut microbiome even stronger and help to keep them balanced.

Probiotics are a must-have if you are looking to improve not only your overall well-being, but also your gut health and digestion.

With that in mind, you may have started taking a probiotic supplement recently. It’s certainly a good idea, but what are some ways that you can know that the supplement is doing its job correctly?

8 Ways To Tell If Your Probiotic Supplement Is Doing Its Job

There are a couple of great things that will change in your body when you start to take a probiotic supplement that’s actually good – these changes will generally be positive!

Some of them are more obvious such as better digestion and better energy, but you may not expect some other side effects like clear skin and mood improvements.

The first thing that people will notice when they take probiotic supplements is an improvement in their digestion.

This is because probiotics are designed to rejuvenate the balance to the flora in your gut. As such, you will often notice that you have improved regularity and frequency in your bowel movements.

You are less likely to experience a lot of gas too, and your days of bloating are numbered. As time goes on you will notice many more benefits aside from just this too.

The probiotic makes your gut microbiome much better in terms of balance, and this can improve the barrier function of your gut.

This in turn can reduce the chances of nasty pathogens and toxins from getting into your body. 

As a result, your immune system is under a lot less stress, and the same goes for your liver.

This can mean that you are less likely to develop illnesses and the amount of inflammation in your system will dramatically decrease.

Inflammation can crop up in a lot of different ways, such as issues with the skin, tiredness, confusion and a struggle to concentrate.

Reducing the amount of inflammation in your body and bringing balance to it is thus a very effective way to improve your general health.

There are a number of additional positive effects that you may expect from taking a probiotic supplement, including the following. 

1. Improved Digestion

This is perhaps the most obvious benefit of taking probiotics. The bacteria in your gut can have a huge impact on the way that the food you eat is digested.

If the microbiome in your gut isn’t well balanced then you can end up getting digestive issues such as bloating, gas and stomach pain. These problems can become even worse after you eat.

One of the best things about a good probiotic is the fact that it can do wonders for your digestion. They are great at reducing negative symptoms like stomach aches, gas and bloating.

2. More Regular Bowel Movements

If your gut bacteria is imbalanced, then you may find that your bowel movements are quite irregular. If you have a lot of pathogenic bacteria in your intestines, for instance, then you may end up experiencing a lot of diarrhea.

If you have a great probiotic then more good bacteria will be introduced into your gut and this can balance out the bad bacteria in your system.

You can also get constipation from an unhealthy gut microbiome.  Taking a probiotic may help relieve constipation, gas, and bloating.

3. Better Energy Levels

When you eat, your body absorbs all of the key nutrients and micronutrients that you get from the food. As you can probably imagine, your gut is a very important part of the absorption process. If your gut microbiome is imbalanced then your gut lining can start to become inflamed.

This inflammation is a big problem because it can often mean that your body struggles to absorb the nutrients. This can result in nutrient deficiencies, and thus energy issues.

You may end up feeling more tired and run down if your gut isn’t as well-balanced as it should be. If you want to improve your health then it’s important to reduce these inflammation levels and repair your gut.

You can do this with an efficient probiotic supplement – it can truly work wonders for your energy levels.

Not only that, but you can even end up getting a leaky gut if there is inflammation for that reason. This means that the lining of your gut is able to be penetrated by things that shouldn’t be getting into it.

For instance, things like big food particles and different pathogens can get into your bloodstream, setting off signals in your immune system.

Thanks to this, your body may end up constantly trying to fight off pathogens and other things and this can really tire out your body. When your body is tired, so are you.

If you have a good probiotic supplement, then the lining of your gut will be healthier and repaired, so you are more likely to feel energized.

4. Improved Mood

Your gut and brain are constantly talking in order to ensure that your body is functioning the way that it should – your neurotransmitters play a large role in that.

What you may be surprised to learn, however, is that the bacteria in your gut can have a huge impact on how the chemicals from your brain are metabolized in your system.

In fact, some of the same neurotransmitters made by the brain are also created by the gut, like serotonin. Serotonin can influence how happy you feel!

If your gut bacteria is imbalanced and inflamed, then your body may produce less serotonin. It seems obvious to say, but this can have a terrible influence on your mood and sense of well-being.

The gut can also create some chemicals that are known for decreasing depression and anxiety levels. If you want to make a slight improvement on your mood, then getting a high quality probiotic supplement is a good idea.

5. Better Immunity Levels

Your gut is really important as we have already mentioned, primarily because it is largely responsible for absorbing the nutrients that you get from your food.

These nutrients are vital for your body and for your immune system. For instance, vitamin C, zinc and your B vitamins.

If you have an imbalance in the microbiome in your gut then it may be harder for your body to absorb the nutrients, and thus it can also mean that your immune system is not functioning as efficiently as it should.

As we have already mentioned, if your gut bacteria isn’t balanced then you can sometimes end up getting inflammation inside of your gut, resulting in a leaky gut.

You can avoid this situation by taking a good quality probiotic supplement. It will help to repair the gut barrier and keep it in check, so that the bigger particles can’t get into the bloodstream at all.

There are some kinds of probiotic bacteria that can do a lot for managing your immune system.

There are certain strains of probiotic that can help to increase production of IL-10 in your body. This is important for managing the inflammation. It is a substance that sends messages to your immune system and thus it helps to stop your body from getting inflamed or developing diseases of the autoimmune system.

6. Improved Stress Response and Less Anxiety

As we have already established, there’s a big link between the brain and the gut. If your gut microbiome is imbalanced then you may end up experiencing more anxiety.

There are actually a couple of neurological and psychological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and depression that have been in part attributed to imbalanced gut microbiome. 

In addition to this, brain inflammation is often linked with leaky gut. This can have a big impact on your mood and the way that you react to situations that can cause you stress.

There are clinical studies that have been conducted that prove that if you strengthen the gut barrier function, then you can make a huge improvement on your mood and focus too as you are working on the axis between the gut and the brain.

7. Losing Weight

There have been a plethora of studies conducted that have demonstrated that the flora in your gut can have a big impact on your metabolism and your weight.

This research is still pretty much in its infancy, but most research has displayed that there are some kinds of bacteria that show up much more frequently in thinner people, whereas people that are overweight tend to present with different kinds of bacteria.

Your weight can largely be affected by the kind of bacteria that you possess more of.

Not only that, but if the flora in your gut is imbalanced, then there is a much higher likelihood that bad bacteria can be introduced.

These pathogens in turn will communicate with the brain and make you want to eat more and more sugar. If you eat too much sugar then the bad pathogens in your gut are more likely to flourish.

If you have a decent probiotic supplement, then your good bacteria will be more balanced and this can be great for your metabolism since you are less likely to crave bad foods. As you can probably imagine, this can do wonders for you when you are trying to lose weight. 

8. Better Brain Function

There are a number of studies that have shown the relationship between your cognitive health and the health of your gut. If your gut bacteria is imbalanced then you are most likely to experience inflammation.

It should come as no surprise, then, that this process of inflammation is not good at all for how your brain functions. If you take a probiotic supplement, however, you are likely to make your cognitive function a lot better because your gut barrier is healthier. 

How Long Can It Take For Probiotics to Activate?

Here’s where things get a bit more vague. The truth is that it can ultimately depend on what result you want to get from the probiotics. It depends on what sort of shape your gut is in at the moment, what your health is like and whether the probiotic in question is actually any good.

If the probiotic is high quality and consists of a few strains and species then you are more likely to notice improvements much sooner. In some cases, you can begin to see your digestion improving within around 1 to 2 weeks after you first start taking it.

There are some people that have sensitive bodies, in which case they can sometimes expect to feel different after just a couple of days. Some of the bigger effects like mood improvement, improvement in inflammation and weight loss can sometimes take up to 4 to 8 weeks to truly take effect.

Why Is My Probiotic Taking Longer To Work, or Why Is It Not Working? 

  1. You haven’t taken it properly – it’s very important to ensure that you are actually taking the supplement in the correct way. Always check the instructions for intake before you take your supplement otherwise it may not work as well as it should.
  2. Incorrect Strain – there are some strains that are better than others for the gut. As such, they can vary in their impact on your body. If your digestive health isn’t improving much after a while then it could be a case that the strains aren’t the correct choice for you. If you are confused then it’s worthwhile to speak to a healthcare provider that has experience in gut health since they can give you advice and direct you towards a probiotic that will work well for you based on your desired outcome. It’s always best to find a probiotic that is well suited to your particular health needs in order to ensure that you get the results you are looking for. 
  3. Storage wasn’t done correctly – there are certain kinds of probiotics that need to be refrigerated otherwise the bacteria will not live for long enough to get into your body. Leaving them outside of the fridge for long periods can often mean that too much heat gets into them, so the bacteria can die and not work as they should.
  4. Lack of quality – there are a lot of probiotics on the market, and some of them certainly aren’t as good as we would like them to be. Now, the quality of the product can depend on a lot of different things. There are a few things that you should keep an eye out for though, such as the makeup of the product, where the bacteria strains come from and how good they are, how they are made and the science behind their construction. These factors combined can have a big impact on the quality of the product and thus on how well they all work. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that you get a high-quality product right off the bat.
  5. Wrong dose – if you don’t take the correct dosage, then you may have trouble with seeing results as quickly as you would like. Before you take the supplement, make sure that you look at the label and take them in the correct dose.

Choosing the Best Probiotic for You

If you are looking for probiotics then you need to make sure that you are looking for products with the correct features for you. This includes the following.

Multistrain and Multispecies Products – It’s important that the supplement has a number of bacterial species and strains in it.

The right products for your needs – everyone is different, so it stands to reason that you should be looking for a product that fits you. Look for products based on the outcomes that you wish to achieve.

Clinical Studies – Make sure that your supplement has been backed by science in the final product. If you do this then you can be sure that the product is a good fit for you.

Human strains – don’t look for strains that aren’t human. Make sure that the product comes with human strains capable of colonizing for results that will work well in the long run.

No animal proteins – stay away from supplements containing animal proteins, soy, yeast and gluten. The product should be completely clean. 

Probiology Probiotics

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Written and Medically Reviewed By

  • Chelsea Cleary, RDN

    Chelsea is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) specializing in holistic treatment for chronic digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), SIBO, and Crohn’s disease. She educates patients on how they can heal themselves from their conditions by modifying lifestyle and dietary habits.

  • Julie Guider, M.D.

    Dr. Julie Guider earned her medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine. She completed residency in internal medicine at the University of Virginia. She completed her general gastroenterology and advanced endoscopy fellowships at University of Texas-Houston. She is a member of several national GI societies including the AGA, ACG, and ASGE as well as state and local medical societies.