Adding a daily probiotic to your daily dietary routine is a step in the right direction. In fact, as long as those beneficial bacteria find a way to colonize your gut, good things are bound to happen to your overall health. Some benefits of having a healthy, well-balanced gut microbiota include a smooth digestion process, better immunity, and fewer incidences of food allergies and intolerance. Here at the Probiotic Lifestyle, we want you to know the best ways of going about these beneficial probiotics. That includes diving deep into research and personal experiences of the best time to take probiotics. So what is the best time to take a probiotic supplement?
The best time to take a probiotic is when the production of stomach acid is at its lowest levels, and this is most likely in the morning, about 30 minutes before eating breakfast. The reason for this timing is because the healthy bacteria in the probiotic have a higher chance of surviving the stomach environment and colonizing the gut when the levels of digestive acids in the stomach are at their lowest. Nevertheless, it would still be ideal to take a probiotic at any time of the day before a meal as long as you can maintain consistency in your timing.
A groundbreaking research study found that taking probiotics with a meal or 30 minutes before a meal resulted in higher survival rates for beneficial microbes. On the other hand, taking a probiotic a few minutes after a meal was found to reduce their survival rates. This study also pointed out that taking probiotics with foods containing healthy fats increased their rates of survival.
Why Does it Matter When You Take Probiotics?
The main reason for taking probiotics is to try and repopulate the gut bacteria to optimal levels. In the course of this repopulation, it is important to ensure that you get as many probiotics as possible to your gut. For instance, most Probiotic labeling contains a CFU count, whereby CFU stands for the possible number of colony-forming units in a single probiotic supplement. Therefore, some supplements will promise 1 billion CFUs in a single helping, while others will promise more than 50 billion CFUs.
After successfully getting these billions of live bacteria into your gut, you also need to ensure their higher survival rates. You see, you have to get the probiotics to survive the journey from your mouth to the colon, where they are most needed. This is why anything you do to ensure the delivery and survival of probiotics is important…and this includes the timing of when you take your probiotic supplements.
The survival of probiotics in the stomach is primarily based on the need for the bacteria to survive digestive juices. In modern times, this problem is often solved by having bio-shield capsules that only break down in the large intestines. Overall, it matters when you take your probiotic supplement during the day because this timing directly impacts the effective delivery and survival of healthy bacteria contained within the supplement.
Taking Probiotics in the Morning Versus the Evening
One challenge you will encounter when looking up information about probiotics is that you are more likely to encounter commercial-centric literature than scientific ones. This shortage of scientific data is my main challenge in the course of doing research for this article. About 60% of the available material recommends taking a probiotic in the morning, while the rest favor nighttime. But we have already established that this is an industry of confusion until the science catches up.
So is it better to take a probiotic in the morning or at night time?
Morning: Taking a probiotic in the morning is the traditionally favored option by most experts mostly because the stomach acid levels are at their lowest. However, I found an article that points out that the morning is “the worst time” to take a probiotic because an empty stomach does not provide the right conditions for higher rates of probiotic survival in the form of food and water. However, from the scientific materials that I have reviewed, we have already established that after taking a probiotic, you should eat something. This article also erroneously claims that the stomach is most acidic in the morning.
Credible scientific data shows “peak in acid secretion occurring generally between 10:00 pm and 2:00 am while confirming already established data that indicated that basal acid secretion in the waking state is minimal in the absence of meal stimulation”. This data is important when considering the ideal time for taking a probiotic. Again, whether in the morning or at night time, it is ideal to follow a probiotic with a meal. The argument that taking a probiotic with a meal is not ideal is null if you will take your breakfast shortly after taking the supplement. Other important considerations about the morning option include the fact that it is easy to maintain consistency when taking the probiotic in the morning because breakfast is taken at the same time every day. It will also be difficult to forget to take a probiotic supplement when it is part of a morning routine.
Nighttime: Taking a probiotic at night, also before a meal, is the next best option, according to experts. Those who favor this option point out that the stomach is inactive at night. One of such articles claims that taking a probiotic at night when bowel movements are minimal increases the chances of probiotic bacteria being utilized in the right manner.
One problem with this argument is that digestion still takes place when we sleep, especially if we eat a heavy dinner. Our morning dumps are enough evidence of this heightened action. Experts in digestion have also established that stomach acid levels will peak when we are fast asleep and at noon hours. Consequently, when you take a probiotic at night, it will have to survive a more rigorous digestion process than one that is taken in the morning.
Even before I got deep into this research, I was already taking my probiotic in the morning. I used to take it at night but changed because when I gave my daughters their morning dose, they appeared to respond better. The only possible mistake I was making was not following the supplement with my meal shortly after. For example, sometimes, I would take my Probiotic at 7 am in the morning and then proceed to eat my breakfast at 11 am. Thanks to this research, I now take my probiotics in the morning and shortly follow them up with a meal.
Although there are dissenting views on the best time to take a probiotic supplement, the available research is unanimous on two things. First, it is crucial to take a probiotic when the levels of stomach acid are low. Second, probiotic bacteria survive better in the stomach when followed by a meal containing healthy fats.
Therefore, this should be your guide when you are choosing an ideal time to take your probiotic. Nevertheless, most probiotic capsules have a coating that allows them to survive the digestive acids in the stomach. Therefore, the advantage you get by taking your probiotics at the most optimal time of the day might be minimized by your favorite probiotic maker. The important thing is that you start taking your probiotics regularly. From there, observe your body’s responses and keep making the necessary changes. My Probiotic Lifestyle encourages you to always do the research and be ready to experiment.