If you’ve ever taken a probiotic you have probably read some conflicting advice on when to take it. ‘Take me with breakfast’ says one bottle. ‘No take me only on an empty stomach’ says another. With all the confusion it can be tough to know when you should take your probiotic. Considering probiotics can be pretty pricy, you want to make sure your probiotic is working its hardest to keep your gut happy and healthy
This probably leads you to the question, when is the best time to take my probiotic?
Let’s start with the journey your probiotic has to take to get to your intestine. To get there it has to pass through your digestive system, which for a probiotic, is a dangerous journey.
Your stomach is a pretty acidy place and depending on the time of day and when you are eating, that acid level fluctuates. While this is important for good digestion, it is not so good for probiotics. On top of stomach acid, your probiotic has to survive digestive enzymes and bile acids.
With this in mind, how can you ensure your probiotic makes it to its final destination? Should you take your probiotic first thing in the morning, or before any meal, or should you take it with food?
Here is what the research says.
Take probiotics on an empty stomach
Most of the science points to having your probiotics on an empty stomach, so first thing in the morning is usually a good time. Take it before your coffee and breakfast as this is when you have the least amount of stomach acid to potentially kill off the bacteria.
If you are not a morning person, that is fine, you can absolutely take your probiotic before bed. However, you need to wait at least 2-3 hours after dinner to ensure all your food has been digested and you have an empty stomach. Nighttime may actually be a great time to take your probiotic as this is when your digestive system is slower and this could mean that the probiotic has a higher chance of survival and stays in your gut for longer. However, I will caveat that by saying research on that is limited.
Take your probiotic 30 minutes before a meal or with a meal
Following on from taking it on an empty stomach, you can take probiotics 30 minutes before a meal. So if you forgot to take your tablet in the morning, feel free to pop it before lunch or dinner. A 2011 study showed that taking your probiotics 30 minutes before or with a meal gave the probiotics the best chance of survival. If you take your probiotic 30 minutes after a meal, the chances of survival decrease.
Consider meal composition
Research has found that if you are going to take your probiotic with a meal, what that meal consisted of affected the probiotic’s ability to survive. If you want to take your probiotic with a meal aim to eat something that contains healthy fats as this help to protect the probiotic while it is making its way to your intestines. Healthy fats you could include in your meal could be avocado, nuts, or oils like olive oil.
Don’t forget other medications
When thinking of taking a probiotic, consider the other medications you take. While probiotics are generally considered safe to take with most medications, it is still worth double-checking just in case. For example, lots of people will take a probiotic when they are prescribed antibiotics, however, it is best to take these separately with at least two hours between each other.
- The most important thing is taking your probiotic every day and if you have found a time that works best for you, then stick to that. Consistency is key to feeling the benefits of your probiotic.
- A lot of probiotic tablets are designed to withstand stomach acid but it never hurts to help them along by taking them at a time when you have the least amount of stomach acid
- If you really aren’t sure when to take it, follow the manufacturer’s advice. The advice given here is general and your chosen probiotic may have been designed to be taken at that specific time to ensure the survivability of a specific strain