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Home arrow Health arrow Gut Health arrow How Long Does It Take for Probiotics to Work? Timeline for Results

How Long Does It Take for Probiotics to Work? Timeline for Results

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
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Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: July 21, 2023
6 min read 2185 Views 0 Comments
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Taking probiotics is a great way to boost your digestive health, but how long does it take to see results? This article details the average time to notice significant improvements from probiotic use, why they might not work, and how to choose an appropriate probiotic product to match your health goals.

how long does it take for probiotics to work

Probiotics restore the natural balance of healthy and harmful bacteria in your gut.

They boast an array of health benefits, making probiotic supplementation hugely popular. Most users can enjoy better digestion, reduced digestive problems, and enhanced immune function. Probiotics can even help relieve symptoms of certain digestive disorders.

It all sounds positive, but how long do these live microorganisms need to take effect? Is probiotic treatment a quick fix or a long-term addition to your self-care regimen?

Keep reading to learn how long it takes for probiotics to work.

How Long Does It Take for Probiotics to Work?

Probiotic supplementation results can occur anywhere from a few days to a few months. The precise time it takes for probiotics to work depends on the symptoms you want to improve. People can use probiotics for both short-term and long-term health benefits.

Most people seeking short-term relief from uncomfortable digestive issues, such as acute diarrhea, will see results within a few days. Those looking to improve their immune system and overall gut health may notice the benefits only after a few weeks of probiotic use.

In patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), benefits were more distinct after 8 weeks or more. Probiotics can relieve IBS symptoms by reducing bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. They also promote more frequent bowel movements and improve stool consistency.

Why Probiotics May Not Work: 4 Reasons 

You might have high hopes when you introduce probiotic supplements to your routine. You’ve likely heard many good things, and you look forward to noticing the changes to your gut health. Sometimes, you might not get the expected results, but why?

Here are four common reasons why your probiotic supplements may not work.

#1 Dose is too low

Not all brands have the means to identify the probiotic strains and amount of strains in each dose. Therefore, it is possible to end up with an ineffective dose with too few colony-forming units (CFU), which quantifies the number of live bacteria present in probiotic supplements.

#2 You are not following the product directions

Not all probiotic products are created equal.

Different brands use different species and strains of probiotic bacteria. They have different effects on the human body, and that means that the doses and instructions for use can vary greatly. Some work better with food, while you should take others on an empty stomach.

Always check the label of your chosen probiotic product to ensure the best results.

#3 Poor quality

You should always select a high-quality probiotic supplement to ensure its effectiveness.

Assessing the quality of dietary supplements is essential, especially with probiotics. These live microorganisms must survive various conditions to reach your stomach and get to work. Aside from surviving your stomach acid, packaging, shelf life, and storage can impact quality.

#4 Wrong probiotic strain

Finding the right probiotic for your needs can be challenging. Different probiotic strains have different effects on the body, treating various symptoms. If you are taking probiotics with a particular end goal in mind, the wrong strain might not deliver the results you expect.

When shopping for a probiotic supplement, you can choose those containing the most popular and well-researched strains, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These probiotics are considered safe and have proven benefits to help you improve and maintain gut health.

How to Choose Good Probiotics for You

Discovering an effective probiotic that works for you is easier said than done. So many products fill the health and wellness market that it can feel almost impossible to make a decision. You should remain mindful of marketing claims that lack scientific evidence.

Probiotics are considered safe for healthy adults, but it is easy to get it wrong and wind up with a poor-quality probiotic that fails to work. Talking to your doctor or healthcare provider can help you understand the choices available and how they might help you.

The most important thing you can do is find a reputable brand and follow their label directions.

Research suggests that the efficacy of probiotics is linked to the probiotic strain. Probiotic products contain a range of probiotic strains, but multiple strains are not necessarily better. Try to pay close attention to this when reading the label of different products.

For a healthy gut microbiome, the other essential factors to consider are:

  • The number of colony-forming units, i.e., the number of healthy bacteria per dose
  • Which strains and brands of probiotic supplements are well-researched
  • The storage requirements and expiration date

Signs That Probiotics Are Working

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that positively influence human health. When your probiotic works, you will begin to notice signs of confirmation. Many of these signs revolve around gut health, but you might spot improvements in other areas, such as your mood and skin health.

Look out for the following changes that typically indicate your probiotics are working:

#1 Improved gut health

You will notice improvements in your gut health when your usual digestive issues fade or disappear. Probiotics are helpful bacteria that keep your gut flora in good working order. Balancing the good and bad bacteria helps to reduce bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

You might notice that you become more regular in the bathroom with pain-free bowel movements. Furthermore, you may no longer suffer from painful gas and stomach cramps. Overall, you should feel better about yourself, as a healthy gut microbiome makes daily life easier.

#2 Better cognitive function

The gut and brain connect via the gut-brain axis, where signaling passes between the digestive tract and the central nervous system. Studies show that changes in gut bacteria can improve cognitive function. For example, in healthy older adults, probiotics alleviate stress and promote mental flexibility.

#3 Improved immunity

Probiotics not only boost the gastrointestinal system. Feeding your body beneficial bacteria can strengthen the immune system by helping to fight infections. An imbalance of good bacteria enables bad bacteria to thrive, causing various illnesses and health conditions.

Other signs include the following:

  • Improved mood
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Increased energy levels
  • Healthier skin
  • Reduced vaginal infections

How Many Probiotics Should I Take per Day?

Probiotics are complicated because there are so many different types, and it doesn’t help that there is no precise dose for every batch. The majority of supplements contain 1 to 10 billion CFU per dose. The general recommendation is to take at least 1 billion colony-forming units.

Most people take one dose of probiotic supplements per day. Remember, you don’t have to take supplements to get your daily dose. You can also eat a probiotic-rich meal with probiotic foods. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and kombucha benefit the gut microbiome.

How Long Should You Take Probiotics?

How long you should take probiotics depends on your reasons for taking them. 

For example, suppose you are taking probiotics alongside antibiotics to prevent antibiotic-related diarrhea. In that case, you can begin them simultaneously, but you should continue them for a few weeks after your course of antibiotics ends.

For treating gastrointestinal conditions, you might benefit from longer-term use. In most cases, you should take probiotics for at least 3–4 weeks to determine whether they work for you. The product label will tell you exactly how long to use a particular probiotic supplement.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Gut health issues affect millions of Americans year-round. As many common complaints result from an imbalance of harmful bacteria, probiotics present an effective treatment option to get your digestive health back on track. They promote a balance between good and bad bacteria.

You can find a probiotic to suit your personal needs. For instance, you might wish to consider the best probiotic for bloating or a probiotic that is proven effective for managing digestive disorders. Just remember to choose strains like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces.

There are several gut health hacks to try before or during probiotic supplementation. Drinking enough water, eating a fiber-rich diet, and prioritizing a good night’s sleep are daily tricks that keep your digestive system happy. You can build a routine that centers around these principles.

Simple daily rituals can boost your gut function. For example, walking can help constipation by encouraging bowel muscle contractions. Moving your body with yoga and stretching exercises increases circulation, reduces stress, and enhances digestion.

It is helpful to ask your healthcare provider for recommendations or suggestions. You must take advice from a healthcare professional if you have conditions affecting your gastro health. It is also important to mention any other medications you currently use.

Keep in mind that brands with a good reputation are more likely to produce high-quality supplements that get the job done. Do your research, remain cautious, and discover the best probiotic product for your health and well-being.

Conclusion

Probiotics work best as part of a healthy regimen rather than a quick-fix solution. The effects may be gradual if you are trying to build a strong digestive and immune system for greater overall health. Still, some can work quickly and temporarily for specific problems.

You can’t anticipate the timeframe with certainty, but give it at least a couple of weeks to see how you feel. Ultimately, it depends on what you want to achieve healthwise and whether you use the most effective probiotic.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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