How Long Should You Take Probiotics?

Picture this: you take a probiotic. And it makes you feel better. Maybe you feel less bloated, maybe you’re pooping better, maybe your skin looks clearer. Probiotics can do amazing things for not only your gut, but your whole body. But just like any relationship, the question arises: how long should you stay on probiotics? It’s a question we get asked pretty often, and while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, there are some universal truths.

A probiotic primer

Before we dive into timing, let's get our bearings. Probiotics are live cultures of beneficial bacteria, and when you take them, they set up camp in your gastrointestinal tract. Picture them as the hosts of a party that’s happening in your gut, responsible for everything from immune system support to keeping the digestive show running smoothly.

It's important to note that probiotics are not magical cure-alls. After all, if they are the host of the party that’s taking place in your gut, then who else is at the party? Those other guests are the trillions of other microorganisms cohabiting in your gut. And those other guests need to be on their best party behavior for optimal gut health.

First stop: 90 days

Alright, let's talk timing. If you’ve just started taking a probiotic, you're probably wondering when the magic will happen. Well, brace yourself: the microbiome doesn't do quick fixes. 

The general consensus is that it can take up to 90 days for meaningful changes to occur in your microbiome. Remember how we said that your gut is a party, with the probiotics as the hosts? Well they need time to settle into the party, to meet everybody and make friends with all the other microorganisms, the fungi, the bacteria, the viruses. In short, they need to establish themselves in your gut. And yep, that takes about 90 days. 


Unfortunately, many people start taking a probiotic and expect to feel benefits quickly. Many people throw in the proverbial towel before giving the probiotic strains a chance to do their job. So give it 90 days. True, the first week or so you might not feel much. Or you might even feel a little stomach discomfort. That’s just the strains getting settled and should pass. You may feel benefits sooner, but at the very least, give it 90 days.

It’s been 90 days…now what?

Now, let's address the elephant in the room – or rather, the microbes in the gut. While 90 days is a solid benchmark for the strains to get settled for most people, some people with a history of gut issues might need more time. If your gut has been through the wringer – whether due to diseases, medications, aging, or just the “normal” Western Diet – those beneficial bacterial strains in your probiotic might need extra time. It truly depends on the individual gut, and food. Yep, food.


Going back to the idea that your gut microbiome is like a party, you need to think about what to feed your guests. And beneficial bacteria have pretty specific dietary requirements.

Fiber-rich foods are their favorite: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. By providing the beneficial bacterial strains with the right kind of fuel, you're encouraging their growth and fortifying their ranks. Of course they also love fermented foods such as miso, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt. And anything with polyphenols. If you feed your probiotics guests these foods, your party is sure to be a good time, i.e. your gut has a better chance of being healthy.

The bottom line: stay realistic

In a world obsessed with quick fixes, instant results, and easy answers, the gut microbiome is a world of slow and steady progress that’s highly individual. Think of the 90-day mark as your North Star. For most, this is where the fun begins, and change starts to emerge. But some guts need more time, and some guts benefit from being on probiotics for the foreseeable future. So be patient. Eat lots of fiber. Take your probiotics. And cheers to a healthy gut!

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