Tips On Probiotics

As a practicing pharmacist, I asked by patients for tips on the best way to use probiotics. I get a lot of great questions! So I’ve put together a list of common questions and answers. Will they help for particular conditions? How many should you take? Which ones are the best?

Recent probiotic tips

IBS and Probiotics – I recently came across a systematic review of IBS and probiotics, and I was really excited to see that there is increasing evidence that a combination of the right bacterias actually can improve many patients IBS. Read about the best probiotics for IBS.

What are CFUs – colony forming units. Do they matter? How many do you need, and how do you figure out how many your supplement has?

Prebiotics – do you even need them if you are taking probiotics? Is a supplement necessary, or can you get prebiotics from the foods you eat?

How long does it take for probiotics to work – a super common question at the pharmacy. Unfortunately, it varies by person, condition and probiotic strain. But here is what the research says.

I just reviewed Lactozyme by Biotics Research, a supplement that has two live bacteria that may help some people suffering from IBS or from lactose intolerance.

A common question I get at the pharmacy is when is the right time of day to take probiotics. And, can I take them with my coffee! Speaking of the time that you should take them, one of the more interesting questions I’ve gotten at the pharmacy is if you can take probiotics while it’s your period. This question makes a lot of sense; many women have stomach and GI issues at that time of the month. Read the piece to find out, and check out my review of Good Girls Probiotics, which is designed for women.

We also have info on signs that you need probiotics – from bloating to gas and beyond, there are some symptoms that you should talk with your doctor about to see if probiotics make sense for you.

I review some of the hidden benefits of taking probiotics. While these benefits are not what I’d call fully backed by science, yet, they do show some promise and have had some prelimiary studies conducted. One of the most interesting possible benefit is the link between the gut and happiness and mood.

Tip for people trying to manage lactose intollerance

Learn the top 4 reasons your probiotic may contain lactose – and what you can do about it. Probiotic supplements may contain lactose due to their dairy-based origins, manufacturing process, stabilizing properties, and prebiotic effect. To identify lactose in probiotics, read the label, check allergen information, visit the manufacturer’s website, or contact them directly. Lactose-free or dairy-free alternatives are available for those with lactose intolerance. Taking lactase supplements with probiotics may be an option for some, but it is best to choose a lactose-free probiotic if you have severe lactose intolerance or sensitivity to milk products.

Tips for taking probiotics with an antibiotic treatment

As a seasoned pharmacist, I’ve had tons of conversations with patients about pairing antibiotics and probiotics – so I figured why write an entire article about it? Research suggests that taking the right probiotic supplement when you are on antibiotics can help keep your gut’s good bacteria in balance while your antibiotic fights off the infection. Some strains like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species are your safest bets, thanks to their track record with antibiotics. But everyone’s different, so be sure to check in with your doctor or yours truly for advice that’s tailored to you. Read my article on antibiotics and probiotic tips and I have a newer one on antibiotic resistance. I also wrote up a review of two of the more commonly recommended brands for people to take if they are using antibiotics, Florastor vs Culturelle.

And you know what? Don’t hesitate to quiz your pharmacist (we love it, really!) when you pick up your prescription. We’re here to help! So why wait? Click through to the full article, and let’s demystify the world of probiotics together.

I am going to read the clinical trials and post the findings from the latest probiotic research here!

ACV and probiotic supplements

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) and probiotics might jointly enhance digestive wellness and fortify immune response, although the scientific evidence to support this is limited. ACV could potentially improve digestion by raising stomach acidity levels, which in turn might aid probiotics in maintaining a healthy gut microbiota. It’s also suggested, albeit with weak supporting evidence, that ACV could contribute to maintaining a beneficial gut environment, leading to a possible synergistic effect when combined with probiotics. Additinoally, both ACV and probiotics are associated with enhancing immune health, though through different mechanisms. Read my article on apple cider vinegar and probiotics to learn how to take them together, how to time your doses and more.

Since we are on the topic of acidity, another question I’ve heard is can probiotics cause acid reflux. I wouldn’t anticipate a top-notch probiotic supplement to trigger acid reflux. Initially, when you begin consuming a probiotic, there might be a settling-in phase as the bacteria, and possibly yeasts, start to populate your digestive tract. This phase, which could last a few days, might lead to minor bloating or gas. If acid reflux symptoms emerge after starting the supplement, it would be wise to discontinue its use and seek advice from your doctor.

A Look at Fasting and Probiotics

When I explored the research on the connection between fasting and probiotics, it’s quite possible that the gut microbiome’s behavior during a fast may potentially boost the effectiveness of probiotics. Fasting can encourage diversity of gut bacteria, creating an ideal environment for probiotics to thrive and exert their positive impact on health. I go over if and how you can take probitics while you fast, and other methods for getting the most out of these two health strategies.

How do you store them?

Probiotics are live organisms that need to remain viable – basically alive or in a suspended state – to provide their health benefits. They must withstand not only their storage environment but also the harsh conditions of our digestive tract. The stability of probiotics can be influenced by heat, light, moisture, and oxygen exposure, which is why many products require refrigeration after opening them. The best practice is to follow the manufacturer’s storage instructions.

What are probiotics?

If you are reading my blog, you probably already know this, but probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed in appropriate amounts, may give you a health benefit. They are primarily bacteria, but some types of yeast can also function as probiotics. Found in various food items like yogurt, fermented foods, and certain supplements, they promote good gut health by balancing your digestive system’s community of microorganisms, or microbiota. Different strains of probiotics play different health roles, and some are particularly beneficial in aiding digestion, supporting immune function, and contributing to overall wellness.

When choosing a probiotic, consider the type and amount of live organisms it contains, as different strains serve different purposes. For example, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species are commonly used for gastrointestinal issues. Always look at the colony forming units (CFUs) – this refers to the number of live and viable bacteria in the product. Also, note that probiotics are sensitive to heat and moisture, so proper storage is necessary to ensure their effectiveness. Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any probiotic regimen, especially if you have health conditions or are taking other medication. While probiotics are generally safe, they may cause mild side effects such as gas and bloating, especially at the start of use.

Which brands should you choose?

Probiotics are a funny thing to purchase – they are actually living bacteria (and sometimes yeasts). That means you need to choose a quality manufacturer so that you get what you are supposed to be purchasing, and so that the packaging is good enough to keep them fresh and alive. A few brands that I’ve reviewed include Dr. Gundry’s Bio Complete 3, and I’ve also reviewed Microbiome Plus+.


Best probiotics for IBS

Best probiotics for IBS

As a pharmacist, I often get asked if taking probiotics can help with IBS. The answer is maybe – learn about the best probiotics options to try to treat IBS.


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