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The Best Time to Take Probiotics: What Experts Say in 2021

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“Timing is everything,” or so the old saying goes. But, does that apply to probiotics? If you’ve been wondering about the best time to take probiotics, you’re certainly not alone.

There’s a lot that goes into probiotic success. Getting the right set of beneficial bacteria safely to your gut, where they can colonize to support your digestive, immune and overall good health is no small feat. And, as it turns out, timing does play a role. 

But, to better understand why timing matters and, more specifically, what time of day is best to take your probiotics, let’s take a closer look at the big probiotic picture.

Probiotics 101: How Good Bacteria Help Your Gut…and More 

There’s been a lot of buzz around probiotics for some time now. They’re commonly known as the “good” bacteria in your bowels that can support healthy digestion and help ease uncomfortable issues, like gas, bloating, and occasional bowel movement irregularities. 

These problems are as old as time and can also be brought on by a change in routine, like traveling–or on the opposite end of the spectrum–quarantining. (Yes, there’s a thing called “quarantine constipation.”) While probiotics certainly deserve all the kudos they get for helping address these digestive concerns, there’s far more benefits of probiotics

For instance, growing research has shown an important link between the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the immune system. And guess who’s the matchmaker bringing together this unlikely pairing? It’s those friendly bacteria in your gut. As Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine commented, “A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract.” And he was speaking specifically about probiotic bacteria.

It’s true. You have literally trillions of microorganisms living inside your body, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses. (Fun Fact: You have more bacterial cells in your body than human cells!) This is why so many “immune boosting” yogurts, full of friendly flora, are heavily promoted. But is morning, when people tend to consume yogurt, even the best time to take probiotics?

Collectively, these microorganisms make up what’s known as your “microbiome,” which is largely concentrated in your bowels. Needless to say, making it through stomach acid is critical to the efficacy of your probiotic intake.

Within your microbiome, there are good and bad players competing for dominance and staying power, and trying to prevent probiotics from doing their good work. That’s why it’s so important to consider the best time of day to take probiotics, so that they can arrive alive, strong and capable. (This is especially important when you encounter things known to knock down your natural probiotic count, like stress, a less-than-perfect diet, or a course of antibiotics.)

What exactly does this probiotic “good work” entail? A lot, actually, including:

  • Promoting and maintaining a healthy GI lining
  • Working as gatekeepers for nutrients and toxins trying to enter your bloodstream
  • Helping to digest fiber and other dietary nutrients
  • Synthesizing vitamins, enzymes, and fatty acids (known as “postbiotics”)
  • Producing certain chemicals and neurotransmitters

Amazing, right? These tiny warriors have some big marching orders when it comes to defending your wellbeing, which is why knowing the best time of day to take probiotics is perhaps more important than you think. You can help them along by refreshing the troops on a regular basis and giving them every advantage, including timing when you take your probiotics to ensure maximum survivability. (More on this in a moment.)

A Plethora of Probiotics Means You Need to Choose Wisely

As the good news on probiotics grows, so does their fan base and, in turn, the number of probiotic products on the market. 

One way people are getting more of these healthy bacteria into their systems is through probiotic-rich foods, like kefir, tempeh, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, and more commonly, yogurt. 

Another popular source of probiotics is nutritional supplements. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), probiotic use has surged in recent years and they’re now the third most commonly used dietary supplement, after vitamins and minerals.  

Naturally, this would leave many wondering when is the best time of day to take probiotics?

Well, there is a lot to consider when answering this. The best time of day to take probiotics must consider strains, form and many other factors. Not all probiotic formulas are created equal. And the thing that sets a truly effective formula apart from the rest might surprise you. (Hint: It doesn’t have to do with the probiotics themselves, but rather the way they’re delivered safely to your gut.)

Top Traits of a Quality Probiotic

While it’s nice to have probiotic choices, there are so many out there that it can be confusing. How do you sort the best from the rest and know the Best time to take probiotics vs consume probiotic foods? Start by focusing on these top traits of a quality probiotic…

Powerful Blend of Strains 

When thinking about a quality probiotic, the first thing that likely comes to mind is the blend of bacteria strains included. But, believe it or not, this doesn’t necessarily inform when is the best time of day to take probiotics. In any form and at any time of day, there are thousands of different identified probiotic strains (8,000 and counting) busy in your system. The most thoroughly researched for supporting overall GI health are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Bacillus. And what these heavy-hitters all have in common is that they must survive the gauntlet of stomach acid before reaching your intestines, making the best time of day to take probiotics an important consideration. 

This is really the first indication that the best time to take probiotics is likely when stomach acid is at its lowest.

Robust CFU Count 

Next up on the list is probiotic count, measured and listed on supplement labels in colony forming units, or CFU. These numbers are typically in the billions. In fact, some formulas have upwards of 50-100 billion CFU per serving! Seems like a lot, and there’s a reason for that. 

It’s because many makers of probiotics foods and supplements don’t even want to consider when is the best time of day to take a probiotic.

You see, in order for the probiotics you take to do any good, they have to arrive alive to your gut. And that means surviving the physical digestive process from your mouth to your bowels, as well as a chemical minefield of stomach acids and bile. 

Many probiotic manufacturers seriously beef up their CFU count in the hope that sheer numbers will be enough to overcome any and all of the physical and chemical obstacles in your body. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen. 

You see, before you eat or when you’re hungry, your stomach produces more acid in preparation for hte food it’s about to break down. Because many probiotic food and supplement manufacturers don’t consider the best time to take probiotics, they pack foods and supplements with higher CFU counts that are, for the most part, completely destroyed once met with the stomach acids.

Once again we see that–When it comes to answering when is the best time to take a probiotic–its best if stomach acid is at its lowest. 

Luckily, there have been advances in delivery technology that can give the probiotics the extra protection they need to survive the dangers of your digestive system with fewer CFU. With the right “travel insurance” in place, 15-20 billion CFU can get the job done. (And one brand is particularly impressive, but more on that in a minute.)

So when is the best time to take a probiotic? It’s starting to look like either really early in the morning, or really late at night–and best it not be with food.

Advanced Delivery Technology 

That “travel insurance” is the third top trait to focus on when choosing a quality probiotic. Look for a product that protects the probiotics during transit as well as having a diverse blend of well-researched bacteria strains and a substantial CFU count. 

A delayed-release capsule that shields live probiotic bacteria from caustic stomach acid as they journey to the intestines is one example of this. And protections to keep the probiotics shelf stable so they don’t require refrigeration (check the product label for this) is another. But those are just the beginning. Some probiotic formulators have taken delivery technology a giant step further. 

For instance, every probiotic formula from Probulin® features the cutting-edge MAKTrek® 3-D Delivery System that surrounds the probiotics with an extra layer of protection from a special seaweed gel and also includes prebiotics plus a unique hydration system to feed and water the probiotics once they arrive to your gut. Those three extra safeguards can dramatically improve the survivability of the probiotics, which a crucial but often overlooked part of the probiotic picture.

The Science of Survivability…And Why Timing Matters When Taking Your Probiotics 

Let’s face it. Having billions upon billions of beneficial bacteria in a Cadillac combination of well-researched, benefit-rich strains sounds good. But it won’t do you an ounce of good if the probiotics are dead on arrival to your gut. 

This is why, whether you’re taking probiotics for men, probiotics for women or even probiotics for children, survivability is key. Probiotic manufacturers in the know are putting a great deal of research effort into delivery technology as well as into the bacteria strains and combinations that go into their formulas. It ALL matters for the ultimate result…your good health.

In addition to considering the best time of day to take probiotics, there are some simple things you can do to boost the survivability of the probiotics you take. And that returns us to that original question: When is the best time to take your probiotics?

When is The Best Time to Take Your Probiotics?

You now know what to look for in a quality probiotic formula (and why), including must-have protections for probiotic survivability. But to ensure maximum survivability of those good bacteria—and the biggest benefits for yourself—there’s more you can do. And it all comes down to timing.

Check Label Instructions First

With more and more research going into probiotic delivery technology, some probiotic manufacturers might have specific reasons for recommending you take their formulas with or without food, or at a certain time of day. So, check the label on your preferred formula and follow instructions for best results. 

If no specific timing directions are given, follow these top tips for taking your probiotics…  

 Nighttime is the Right Time

Remember how probiotics must run the gauntlet of stomach acids in order to reach your gut, where they can colonize and get to work doing their good deeds? You can minimize the dangers of this journey by taking your probiotics at night, right before bed. 

Why? Because this is the time when gastric activity is usually at a minimum. (Late dinners, evening snacking and partying into the wee hours knock this logic, so try to avoid these if you’re looking to boost your probiotic payoff.)

When you eat a meal, your body reacts by secreting stomach acids and digestive enzymes to break down the food. The larger and heavier the meal, the more these chemicals are secreted and the slower the digestion process takes. On average, a meal takes 4 to 5 hours to move through the stomach, so it’s ideal to eat your healthy dinner many hours before bedtime. Not a fan of early bird dinners? Waiting 2-3 hours after you eat to take your probiotics probably provides sufficient buffer time. 

Consistency is Critical, Too 

Another timing issue is frequency. When it comes to supporting your good bacteria, consistency is important–perhaps just as important as the best time of day to take probiotics. That’s why you should take your probiotics as part of a regular, daily routine. 

Many people take their nutritional supplements in the morning, and if this is true for you, adding your probiotics to the morning mix can work. Just try to take them at least 30 minutes before breakfast so that they have a nice head start down your digestive tract before the food and digestive juices make their entrance.

Probiotic Wrap Up: From What to Look for to the Best Time to Take Probiotics 

  1. Probiotics are live, “good” microorganisms that reside throughout your body, but primarily in your gut. They compete with other not-so-good microorganisms and try to maintain a balanced environment to support your health in numerous ways, including promoting comfortable digestion and a strong immune system. 
  2. Your body has its own innate team of probiotics, but things like stress, poor diet or even certain medicines, can deplete their count and send your microbiome out of balance. 
  3. Getting more probiotics through diet or supplements is a good way to reinforce your natural probiotic forces. But taking the right supplement (in the right way) is a must. 
  4. Top quality probiotic formulas have a diverse blend of well-researched bacteria strains, with robust CFU numbers. However, more isn’t always better!
  5. The probiotic formula you choose should have advanced delivery technology in place that protects the good bacteria on the journey through your stomach to your bowels and ensures probiotic survivability.
  6. You can help boost the survival of your probiotics by taking them right before bed or at least 30 minutes before breakfast, when your natural gastric acids are low.
  7. Consistency is also important. Perhaps just as important as the best time to take probiotics is that you take your probiotics at the same time every day to support those hard-working good bacteria on the regular.

If you’re looking for a top probiotic with the benefits of well-researched CFU count and the ability to survive the journey to your gut, check out some of the favorites of Probulin probiotics, one of the leading and most trusted probiotic brands in the U.S. 

Each Probulin probiotic formula contains scientifically validated strains and CFU counts, plus beneficial bacteria from fermented fruits and vegetables to provide broad-spectrum support of your digestive and immune function. Every product is tested to ensure potency and safety. Total Care Probiotic no doubt stands out in a saturated market because of the MAKTrek 3-D Delivery System (mentioned previously), its shelf stability (no refrigeration required!), and incorporation of both pre-and postbiotics. And when it comes to the best time of day to take probiotics, founder and CEO or Probulin, Jason Mitchell, would echo it’s best to take your probiotic supplement in the evening. 

Another fun surprise from Probulin is that each order is shipped insulated and iced so your probiotics are safe and protected from the heat it encounters during transport. 

To learn even more about Probulin and their incredible line of digestive support products (as well as probiotic extract skincare) visit their website here

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