If you’ve been using a probiotic for a couple of weeks, you might be wondering whether or not it’s actually working.
After all, the stated benefits of probiotic – and prebiotics – are quite vague; you can’t exactly “feel” your gut microbiome getting better, and it is difficult to know whether you are more energetic and focused because of a healthier gut or because you’re just sleeping better that week.
This is why one of the most common questions we get asked is: how long does it take for probiotics to work?
How long until probiotics start to work?
Unlike nootropics or energy supplements, gut health supplements do not have effects that you can instantly feel.
Nor do they really start to work until you’ve been taking them for a couple of days at the very least, and noticeable effects will not usually ‘kick in’ until some time later.
This is true of both prebiotics and probiotics; if you’re expecting to take one capsule and feel all your digestive problems dissipate, you’re going to be sorely disappointed!
However, probiotics do have an effect on your digestive system relatively quickly, especially when compared to prebiotics.
The composition of a probiotic will determine to a great degree how long it takes to start working.
For example, a probiotic that is rich in the most healthful bacteria species will have a much more rapid effect than one relatively low in things like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains. We would also expect a probiotic with a good range of Bacteria species to have a more immediate effect than one which only provides the standard, basic probiotic bacteria.
As a general rule, a well put-together, balanced probiotic with lots of the most healthful bacteria species will start having an effect within a couple of days, assuming you’re taking it daily. A poor probiotic low in the most important bacteria will barely make a difference in 10-14 days.
The quality of the probiotic you are using will determine how long it takes to work.
By quality, we mean a number of things: ingredient bio-availability, potency, and delivery method.
Some probiotic supplements use low-quality ingredients which will never make it to the gut. We’re talking things like digestive enzymes which are denatured in the stomach and so never have a beneficial impact on the gut.
Others use bacteria strains which tend to pass through the digestive tract without making much of a difference to the composition of your gut microbiome.
On the other hand, some supplement manufacturers use extraordinarily advanced techniques to maximize bioavailability, such as using prebiotic plant caps as a delivery method, or by growing their own probiotic bacteria to maximize quality and purity.
All of these things will influence how long it takes for a probiotic to start working for you.
Diet & lifestyle
Lifestyle is probably the main determining factor.
What you eat, what you drink, and how you live your life will always have a much greater impact on your gut microbiome and your digestive health than any probiotic supplement.
If you are living a lifestyle that is damaging to your gut microflora, then you are constantly going to be fighting an uphill battle when taking a probiotic. It will therefore take a lot longer for a probiotic to work if you are always undoing its benefits with your diet and lifestyle.
Things that will delay a probiotic from working properly include:
- Diets low in fiber
- Diets high in red or processed meat
- High alcohol intake
- High stress levels
All of these things disrupt a healthy gut microbiome, and as such, prevent a probiotic from working.
Learn more about gut health supplements: