Not so long ago, few people knew what the term ‘probiotics’ meant. In fact, the idea of eating bacteria may have seemed very strange indeed!
Today, though, the concept of taking probiotics has become more and more commonplace as the many health benefits of these live bacteria are better understood.
What’s not so well understood, though, is the effects that may occur when you start taking probiotics for the first time.
Although temporary, some of these effects may be slightly unpleasant: enough to put people off taking them for good.
It’s important to know what will happen when you start taking probiotics so you can deal with any uncomfortable symptoms until your body adjusts.
So, what SHOULD you expect?
Everyone is different, so no two people will have the same response to probiotics. Your gut and your health history have a lot to do with how you’ll react during the initial stages of a new probiotic regime.
Some people may not notice any change at all, while others may feel quite uncomfortable at first.
The good news is that the longer you take the probiotics, the more your gut will adjust and the better you’ll feel.
Your gut microbiome will become stronger and healthier, and you’ll have fewer and fewer side-effects – if any.
Starting a probiotic supplement means you’re introducing new colonies of beneficial microbes to your gut, like Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium infantis.
These microbes will go to work straightaway, multiplying and establishing themselves in your gastrointestinal tract.
One of their most important jobs is boosting your immunity. They do this by stimulating the production of proteins that strengthen your gut wall, suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines, promoting the production of bacteriocins (bacteria-killing agents) and short-chain fatty acids, regulating gut pH, and competing for binding sites on the cells of the gut lining. (1)
While this is exactly what you want, it can be a slightly uncomfortable process at first. As the pathogenic bacteria and yeast are put under pressure, they can release harmful toxins.
Fortunately, these toxins will gradually be cleared out of your system as part of your body’s normal detoxification processes.
However, for a short time these toxins can lead to minor side-effects such as gas, bloating, changes to your bowel movements (constipation, diarrhea or both) and even some skin reactions. (2)
That’s not quite the end of it! As the new beneficial microbes begin to settle in the gut, they’ll be causing their own chemical reactions, which can lead to other slight discomforts in the gut. Don’t worry – this is completely natural and it’ll actually benefit your gut in the long term.
It just takes your body time to adjust completely. Expect some digestive issues such as more gas than usual or slower bowel movements. You may also experience some muscular aches and pains, or small acne-like breakouts.
The most common side effects of probiotics are gas and bloating. However, these usually pass within a week or two. (3)
It’s entirely normal to experience these effects as part of the microbially-induced chemical changes in your gut. In fact, they’re a sign that the probiotics you’re taking are indeed working. Long-term, the benefits of taking the probiotics far outweigh these initial side-effects – so keep taking them!
One of the best ways to reduce the severity of your initial side-effects is to hydrate.
Drink lots of water throughout the day – around 2-3 liters, if possible. This will help to flush out any toxins that are released by the pathogenic bacteria in your gut as your gut flora begin to adjust. This will speed up your body’s ability to remove the substances that are causing those unpleasant symptoms.
If your symptoms really are too much to cope with, try reducing your daily dose. Allow your body to adjust to each dose before increasing it, gradually building up to the recommended dosage.
If you are taking a probiotic that uses time-release tablets, consider breaking them in half and reducing your dose for a few days, to give your gut extra time to adjust.
As mentioned above, everyone is different. Some will see results very quickly, while others may need a few weeks.
If you don’t feel a change straightaway, don’t panic – it will come! It takes time for the ‘good guys’ to establish themselves in your body and start producing benefits.
Eventually, you’ll start noticing that your digestive symptoms are beginning to reduce, and that your bowel movements are more regular.
The less noticeable benefits of a high-quality probiotic include:
Once your gut is back in balance, you’ll know it was all worth it!
If you’d like to try a high-quality probiotic that uses time-release tablets, please take the time to read more about our Balance One probiotic.