You know that probiotic supplements have lots of benefits for your digestion and overall health.
You also know that many people benefit from taking them every day, especially if you’ve completed a course of antibiotics or if you’ve had any trouble with your digestion.
But the thing that many people get confused about is the best time of day to take them. Let's take a look at why timing matters when it comes to most probiotics (but not all of them!)
First of all, it's important to note that taking your probiotic at the ‘wrong’ time of day is better than not taking it at all!
If you’re a forgetful person, then the best time of day to take your probiotics might just be whenever you’re most likely to remember to take them.
It's also important to be consistent with taking your probiotic. A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology showed that taking probiotics is beneficial regardless of mealtimes, as long as they were taken regularly. (3)
However, there are some good strategies to follow that will help you to get the most from your probiotics. The time of day that you take them can significantly increase or reduce their effectiveness.
Research has shown that in order for probiotics to be of any benefit, they must reach the small intestine and colonize the gut. To do this, they must first survive the journey through the acidic environment of your gastrointestinal tract.
Unfortunately, this can be a tough journey. When empty, the pH of your stomach is between 5.0 and 6.0 (slightly acidic). After you eat, the pH drops to 3.0 (very acidic).
This acidic environment means that anything that enters your stomach will be quickly broken down – including a probiotic supplement. (1)
Some sources recommend taking probiotics supplements on an empty stomach, while others suggest taking them with food. Only one of these is correct!
Food increases the acidity of the stomach environment, which make it a much more difficult environment for your probiotic bacteria to survive.
The time at which your stomach is least acidic is just before you eat. That’s when the fewest probiotic bacteria will be killed by your stomach acid. This maximizes the chance for the beneficial bacteria to make it through the gut into your intestines, where they can impart their benefits.
In a study published in Beneficial Microbes, researchers found that probiotics taken in the 30 minutes before a meal, or even with the meal, survived in much higher numbers than if taken 30 minutes after a meal.
Interestingly, they also found probiotics taken with food containing healthy fats were most likely to survive. The researchers concluded that the best time to take non-enteric coated probiotic supplements is either with or just prior to a meal containing healthy fats. (2)
As explained above, probiotic bacteria must be protected in a way that allows them to get through the acidic stomach environment. This is where many probiotic supplements fail. Some research has found that more than 96 percent of probiotics are killed off by stomach acid!
If you are unable to time your probiotics around meals, or you eat inconsistently, you will be better off with a delayed-release probiotic supplement. Delayed-release supplements, especially those make with the BIO-tract delivery system, mean the exact time of day doesn’t matter. That’s because the bacteria are so well protected from your stomach acid.
Essentially, using delayed-release probiotics means that you can be less concerned about the exact time of day that you should take them.
BIO-tract® is a unique and patented delivery system designed for the protection of sensitive probiotic strains. It also allows for consistent release within the intestines, protecting the bacteria from stomach acid.
BIO-tract tablets work in the opposite way to regular probiotic capsules. Rather than being destroyed in the stomach, they become stronger.
When BIO-tract tablets reach the stomach, a protective layer is activated by the moisture in the stomach environment. This causes a gel matrix to form around the tablet, creating a barrier that protects the probiotic contents from harsh stomach acids and enzymes. The tablet then moves down to the intestines, gradually releasing its contents as it goes.
As a result, the probiotic bacteria are better able to survive the passage through to your intestines where they can start doing their work.
Another benefit of this time-release mechanism is that the bacteria are released over an 8-10-hour period. This means there’s a much higher chance of delivering beneficial bacteria to your small and large intestines, where they can establish themselves in your gut wall and begin colonizing.
Taking probiotics after a course of antibiotics is highly recommended because antibiotics will have killed off both your good AND bad bacteria. However, it’s important to take your probiotics well away from your antibiotics, or they will be killed off! Take each a few hours apart; for example, if you take your antibiotics with breakfast, take your probiotics with lunch.
If taking probiotics as a preventative for traveler’s diarrhea, you should start taking them at least two weeks before you travel. This will help to establish the good bacteria in your gut, so you’ll be better prepared for any nasty infections that you encounter. A healthy gut will optimize your immune function and promote good health while travelling. Continue taking your probiotic during your time away, and ideally for at least two weeks after you return home.
Because probiotics can cause some digestive discomfort at first, it may be wise to take them with your evening meal. Those with a sensitive gut sometimes find they experience some digestive side effects, which are less noticeable if you’re asleep. Do some experimenting to figure out when suits you best.
Research shows that the best time of day to take your probiotic is generally just before you eat. This is when your stomach is at its least acidic.
Taking a probiotic with delayed-release tablets makes this less important, because the probiotic bacteria are protected on their passage through your stomach.
Our probiotic uses BIO-tract time-release technology. This is 15 times more effective than capsules at getting bacteria past stomach acid, and it slowly releases its bacteria into your gut over 8-10 hours.