Maintaining a healthy, balanced intestinal microbiom is important to short and long term health. When our diets contain processed and sterilized foods, we become deficient in essential microorganisms. Oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, brain injury and toxins can alter this balance. Beneficial bacteria, called probiotics, must be consumed to maintain their needed presence in our digestive system. Probiotics support the immune system. This is important during seasonal colds and flu, as well for those with allergies. Constipation and diarrhea can be improved with clinically effective dosages of probiotics. Probiotics benefit those with more significant concerns, like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

Should I take probiotics with meals?

It is reasonable to take probiotics with food, but nothing hot. Food can buffer the stomach acid and reduce damage to the bacteria. Another option is to drink lots of water to dilute the acid and move the probiotics quickly into the intestines, reducing exposure to a harmful environment. Though, there is nothing definitive about these approaches and the industry remains divided on the topic.

Can I take probiotics when on an antibiotic?

Given that antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria, some individuals eliminate probiotics while on antibiotics. The problem with this approach is that it leaves bad bacteria not affected by antibiotics with the opportunity to grow quickly without opposition from beneficial bacteria. This can lead to diarrhea, yeast overgrowth and other problems. Taking probiotics while on antibiotics can reduce such symptoms. You can minimize the damage to probiotics by taking them an hour before, or two hours after, the antibiotic. Include Saccharomyces Boulardii, a beneficial yeast, in your regimen to fend off aggressive pathogens like E. coli.

Why are some probiotics refrigerated?

Keeping probiotics in the fridge will keep them more potent. Most freeze-dried probiotics deteriorate over time, at room temperature this process is slow at the beginning and then accelerates over time. How fast this happens depends upon the individual strain of bacteria. Some spore based probiotics are 95% stable even after two years. You can leave your probiotics out for days and weeks without much loss. But because survival is greater at low temperatures, you should refrigerate and avoid high temperatures that can cause these beneficial bacteria to die-off. Keep a desiccant in your bottle and the lid tight to reduce moisture, which can destroy probiotics even more than heat.

Do probiotics survive stomach acid?

Yes and no. This depends upon the strain of probiotic as each one has it’s own level of sensitivity. Lactic acid producing bacteria do not survive well in acidic or alkaline medium. You either have to take more or find a way to protect them during transit. Some companies offer protection through coated capsules, or by surrounding the microorganisms with plant extracts and fatty acids.