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July 12, 2022
What Happens When You Stop Taking Probiotics?
You’ve probably heard they’re really, really good for you. You may even be taking some right now.
But the finer details are a little more complicated. (Even the experts regularly argue over why and how probiotics work.)
How often are you supposed to take them? When are you supposed to take them? And what happens if you want to stop taking them?
Here’s everything you need to know, from the beginning.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are a type of bacteria, known as “good” bacteria, that are associated with improved digestive health, a stronger immune system, and other health benefits (1). You can find them in certain types of food, like yogurt and kefir, but most people who take probiotics prefer to get them in supplement form.
There are many different strains of probiotics, and each has its own set of health benefits. These strains are often where people get confused when buying their own product, because it’s easy to end up with a probiotic strain designed to help a different health issue than the ones you’re currently dealing with. This is why it’s especially beneficial to seek out probiotic supplements with multiple strains in one.
Here are some of the key strains of probiotics, and which health benefits they are associated with. Each of these strains is included in the custom blend of our NativePath Probiotic:
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus (yeast infections, gut health, and acne)
- Lactobacillus Plantarum (inflammation)
- Lactobacillus Casei (brain function and digestion)
- Bifidobacterium Lactis (immune health)
- Lactobacillus Paracasei (improves intestinal health & the absorption of nutrients)
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosus (eczema and antibiotic-related gut health issues)
- Lactobacillus Salivarius (intestinal health, immune health, and dental health)
- Bifidobacterium Breve (anti-aging and digestive health)
- Bifidobacterium Longum (digestion and brain health)
- Lactobacillus Bulgaricus (gut health)
What Are the Signs You Need Probiotics?
Probiotics might be right for you if you’re experiencing an imbalance of the gut microbes in your intestinal tract. These microbes aid in digestion and protect your immune system (2). If you have an imbalance, you may notice symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain, unwanted weight changes, or lower energy than usual.
Probiotics may help you restore balance and foster a healthier gut (3). Healthy gut bacteria has been linked to perks like better digestive health, a stronger immune system, and weight loss (4, 5). If something feels off in your gut (literally, not spiritually—or hey, maybe both!), and you’re looking for the above health benefits, you may benefit from probiotics.
How Long Does It Take for Probiotics to Work?
The short answer to this question is “it depends.” How long it takes for probiotics to work depends on a series of factors including which strain you’re taking, how healthy you are when you start taking them, the dose you’re taking, and the quality of the product. (Because probiotics are living organisms, choosing a brand that preps and maintains a high-quality product is more important than ever!)
How long it takes to see results can also depend on the symptoms you’re hoping to treat. For example, if you’re taking probiotics for relief from diarrhea, you could start to see results in just days (6). If you’re taking them for a wider range of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, you may see results in about a week (7).
If you’re taking probiotics for immune health, you may see a decrease in cold or flu symptoms within around three months (8). On the other hand, if you made probiotics part of your routine for general overall gut health, it may take several months to see the results you’re looking for.
Why You May Not be Seeing Results
If you’ve been taking probiotics for a long time and aren't seeing results, it’s worth considering whether the probiotic you’re taking is right for you. Sometimes a person’s unique genetic makeup and existing gut bacteria is a factor in a probiotic not working. Other times, it could be due to a dose that’s too low, an incorrect strain, or not following instructions on the supplement’s packaging for how to best store or take it.
If this is happening to you, the biggest factor to watch out for is the quality of the company that manufactures the probiotic. These delicate live cultures need to be treated with care to safely make it through manufacturing, shipping, storage, and more before you start taking them. So make sure you’re getting your probiotics from a diligent brand that takes quality seriously.
How Often Should You Take Probiotics?
Now that you know you want to try probiotics, you’re probably wondering, when is the best time to take probiotics? And what’s the best way to take them—with or without food? On an empty stomach? In the morning or evening?
Unless otherwise instructed, you should take one probiotic capsule per day. Most people prefer to take their probiotics in the morning. In most instances, whether you take probiotics with food and what time you take them does not make a huge impact on their effectiveness. That said, the most important thing is consistency, and be sure to read the supplement’s label for any special instructions.
The best way to take your probiotics can vary by strain. Studies have found that probiotics make a positive impact on your gut health whether or not you take them with food (9).
That said, some strains, like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, are thought to work even better when taken just before eating (10). Whatever routine you develop around your probiotics, make sure you stay consistent. Whether you take them morning or night, with your favorite snack or without food at all, try to do things the same way each day.
How Many Billion CFUs Should I Take?
Here’s how to choose the right dose…
What is CFU in probiotics?
Probiotic doses are measured in CFUs, or colony-forming units. CFUs represent how many live strains are in each dose.
How many billion probiotics should I take?
CFUs are counted in billions. (Really puts into perspective how microscopic probiotics are, right?) How many billions of CFUs you should take depends on which health issues you’re hoping to manage with probiotics. Make sure to always read the label of the product you take for any special dosing instructions.
Research so far has indicated that for gastrointestinal issues, doses of 5 billion CFUs or higher are more effective than lower doses, so that’s a great minimum to aim for (11, 12). NativePath Probiotic offers a dose of 2.75 billion CFUs per capsule to ensure you’re getting an adequate amount of powerful probiotic super-strains.
How Long Do Probiotics Stay in Your System?
If you discontinue use, probiotics are believed to stay in your system for a few weeks afterward.
What Happens When You Stop Taking Probiotics?
When you stop taking probiotics, the health benefits you’re experiencing from them will likely stop within around one to three weeks. If you took probiotics to ease a specific symptom, that symptom might return when you stop taking them. However, it’s generally not considered dangerous to stop taking probiotics—but if you have any concerns, consult a healthcare professional (13).
Are Probiotics Right for You?
If you’re looking for a healthier gut and immune system, probiotics might be just what you need. If you’ve been suffering from bloating, indigestion, or other gut issues, probiotics can help ease those symptoms (13).
The Bottom Line
Probiotics are a type of “good” bacteria that can help alleviate bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain, unwanted weight changes, and low energy.
If you’re done dealing with bloat, gas, and constipation, probiotics may be the relief you’re after. These tiny live cultures can transform your gut from the inside out. Simply take one capsule a day to experience the health benefits they offer.
For a premium digestive probiotic formula that has 2.75 billion CFUs and 10 unique superstrains per capsule, reach for NativePath Probiotic.
As a writer, editor, and wellness seeker, Claire has written for Self, Health, Prevention, CNN, Mic, Livestrong, and Greatist, just to name a few. When she's not writing, she specializes in traveling, getting lost in health-related research rabbit holes, and finding new ways to spoil her cat.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.