Picture this: you start taking a probiotic hoping that it will help with your gastrointestinal issues. Maybe you have problems with gas, bloating, constipation, or even diarrhea. But once you start taking the probiotic, you feel like your symptoms are getting worse. Could it be? Aren’t probiotics supposed to help with those issues?
Yes, and yes.
If you feel some gastrointestinal discomfort when first starting a probiotic, you’re not alone. Some people can feel some side effects. This is because changes in the gut microbiome can result in some discomfort, e.g. some bacteria can produce more gas temporarily. But the good news is that if you do feel any gut discomfort, it’s most likely temporary. It takes a while for the good bacteria to get settled in your gut, but any initial side effects usually clear up within a few days or weeks.
Of course, the problem with this is that some people misinterpret these initial transient side effects as proof that the probiotics aren’t working and stop taking the probiotic before it has a chance to really do its job. Most people don’t know what to expect when taking a probiotic, or how long it can take to feel the full results.
Spoiler alert? It can take a few months to feel the full effects. Let’s break it down.
What to feel and when you’ll feel it when taking a new probiotic
Week one to week three
We’re keeping it real: you might feel some gut discomfort. Nothing alarming, but you could feel some increased gas, bloating, constipation, or loose stool and diarrhea. This is because when you add new bacteria to your gut—even “good” bacteria that’s beneficial to your microbiome—your gut has to adjust. This doesn’t happen to everyone, though! But if you’re one of the unlucky people who experiences mild GI discomfort, take comfort in knowing it’s temporary. You can try taking your probiotic at night to decrease daytime flatulence, or just let it go.
Please note: if you have severe abdominal or gastrointestinal pain, please consult your doctor.
Month one to month two
By this time, any side effects you may have initially felt should be gone. It usually takes around 90 days to see big changes in the microbiome. However, results vary based on your personal microbiome and health history, and you may begin to feel benefits by month one or two. You may notice that your digestive system feels more balanced and you’re having more regular bowel movements.
Month three and beyond
You should be feeling the full benefits by this time, with improvements in any previous gastrointestinal or digestive issues as well as improved food tolerances. You may see improvements in your energy levels. If you’re taking Glucose Control, you may experience a reduction in your A1C levels and in post-meal glucose spikes, as well as improved gastrointestinal function and energy. In short? Your gut microbiome feels happy, resulting in an improvement in overall health. Now is the time to tell your friends and write that review on your amazing experience taking your probiotic.
Of course most probiotics don’t colonize your microbiome, meaning they only work while you’re taking the probiotic. To keep the good times going, it’s important to keep taking your probiotic and to eat a fiber-rich, plant-based, whole foods diet rich in polyphenols. You can also take a Polyphenol Booster to help shape the environment in your microbiome. This helps benefit the good bacteria and maximizes the effectiveness of your probiotic.
So there you have it: what to expect when taking a probiotic. And if you haven’t started yet, just know that you’re three months away from feeling oh-so much healthier!