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What Happens To Your Body When You Start Taking Probiotics

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Published By: Dr. Jeffrey Mark
Date: June 29, 2024

Curious about the buzz around probiotics? These tiny supplements can pack a powerful punch for your health. When you start taking probiotics, your body embarks on a fascinating journey of renewal and balance. In fact, you are made up of more bacterial genetic material (DNA) than human DNA.

They're like superheroes for your gut, replenishing beneficial bacteria that play a crucial role in digestion and immunity.  Imagine feeling more energetic, less bloated, and even noticing clearer skin—all from a daily dose of these friendly bacteria.

Ready to delve deeper into how probiotics can transform your well-being? Let's explore what happens to your body when you introduce these gut-friendly allies into your routine.

Key Takeaways

  • Probiotics can lead to noticeable improvements in digestion, often within the first few days of use.
  • Minor side effects such as mild bloating or increased bowel movements may occur initially but should subside within a week.
  • Probiotics can positively influence mood, energy levels, and skin health over a period of 4-8 weeks.
  • Choosing the right probiotic strain and following the correct dosage instructions are crucial for optimal benefits.
  • Synbiotics: Combinations of probiotics and prebiotics designed to enhance the survival and efficacy of probiotics in the gut

Discovering Probiotics

Rod-shaped probiotic bacteria in a blue background.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are living microorganisms that can have health benefits when consumed in high enough amounts. These can be bacteria or yeast similar to helpful organisms found naturally in your body, especially in the GI tract. You can find them in some fermented foods, like yogurt. Probiotics have also become popular supplements and food additives, often used to promote healthy digestion.

They are designed to prevent and address dysbiosis, an imbalance or shortage of beneficial microbes within your microbiome.

How Do Probiotics Work?

Probiotics support healthy body systems from your mouth to your gut and help control harmful microorganisms that can result in inflammation.  At the proper levels, probiotics aid digestion and improve nutrient absorption. There effects can be felt even if they are no longer alive, as their cell wells can still influence your immune system.

When you start taking probiotics, you introduce these helpful microbes into your digestive system. They work to restore and maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which is crucial for digestion, immune function, and overall well-being.

Types of Probiotic Bacteria

There are several types of probiotic bacteria, each with its benefits. Some of the most common include:

  • Lactobacillus: Found in yogurt and other fermented foods, it helps with digestive function and nutrient absorption.
  • Bifidobacterium: Commonly found in dairy products, it supports the Immunological system and helps fight harmful bacteria.
  • Saccharomyces: A type of yeast found in some supplements, it can help with digestive issues like diarrhea and keep down more aggressive harmful bacteria.

Understanding the different types of probiotic bacteria can help you choose the right one for your needs, ensuring you get the most benefit from your probiotic intake.

What happens when you start taking probiotics?

When you start taking probiotics, you're introducing beneficial microbes to your digestive system that can significantly impact your overall health.  These short-chain fatty acids enhance your metabolic and overall health by supplying energy to colon cells, producing essential mucus, reducing inflammation, and boosting immunity.

Essentially, prebiotics act as fertilizer, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. While some people may experience immediate positive effects like improved digestion, increased energy, and better skin, others might initially feel worse as their body adjusts. These carbohydrates are not readily digestable by your gut but certain bacteria thrive on them. You need the right type of bacteria in higher quantities and if you don't have them bloating can occur as other bacteria will ferment them and release gas.

Impact on Digestive Health

Human digestive system

Gut Microbiota Composition

The gut microbiota is a complex community of microorganisms that play a crucial role in digestion and overall gut health. Probiotics can help restore the balance of this microbiota. This balance is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system and can significantly impact the body when choosing probiotics.

Two cartoon representations of intestines.

Probiotics and Digestive Disorders

Probiotics are beneficial in managing various gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They can help reduce symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Probiotics can also mitigate some of the digestive side effects caused by certain drugs, serving as an effective dietary supplement for a person on medication. In fact, if the balance of bacteria change in your microbiome you may need to adjust medication doseages.

Fermentation and Digestive Process

Probiotics aid in the fermentation process within the gut, breaking down complex carbohydrates into simpler compounds that are easier to digest. This not only improves nutrient absorption but also supports a healthy gut environment. This can be particularly beneficial for someone with a disease as it helps maintain optimal digestive function.

Immune system Modulation

Probiotics and Immune Response

Probiotics can modulate both innate and adaptive immune responses. Probiotics help manage gastrointestinal issues through various mechanisms. For instance, specific probiotic strains are known to increase IL-10 production in the body, which helps manage inflammation. IL-10 is a messenger substance of the Immunological system that protects against exaggerated inflammatory processes and autoimmune diseases.

Additionally, some probiotics stimulate the secretion of Secretory Immunoglobulin A (sIgA), an antibody crucial for the immune function of mucosal membranes, and regular probiotic supplementation can enhance this effect. If your body doesn’t have enough sIgA, your Immunological system may weaken, and you might be more prone to infections and illnesses.

Gut-Brain Axis Influence

One of the human brain and the other of the intestines

The gut-brain axis is a complex communication network that links the gut and the brain. Probiotics can influence this axis by maintaining a healthy gut lining, reducing the burden on your immune system. A balanced gut microbiome can lower anxiety and a better stress response, indirectly supporting immune function.

Inflammation Regulation

Certain probiotic bacteria help manage the immune response in two critical ways so that it does not spiral out of control. First, specific probiotic strains are known to increase IL-10 production and manage inflammation. Second, probiotics stimulate sIgA secretion, which is crucial to immune function. This, in turn, decreases the burden on your immune system and liver, making you less prone to illness and reducing inflammation.

Inflammation can manifest in many ways, including skin issues, brain fog, fatigue, and lack of concentration; however, the right dietary supplement can help address these symptoms. Therefore, reducing inflammation and re-balancing your immune function can have various positive effects.

A high-quality probiotic supplement can help repair and maintain a healthy gut lining, thus reducing the burden on your immune system.

Potential Benefits Beyond Digestion

When we think of probiotics, we often focus on their role in digestive health. However, the health benefits of probiotics extend far beyond the gut. Let's explore some of these additional advantages.

Oral Health

Digestion begins in the mouth, where the microbiome also originates. Taking probiotics can have a positive impact on the balance of oral bacteria. This can lead to improvements in bad breath and overall oral and dental health.

Skin Health and Probiotics

Probiotics have shown promise in improving skin health, potentially due to their role in addressing gastrointestinal issues. Balancing the skin's microbiome can help manage conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea. This balance can reduce inflammation and improve the skin's barrier function, leading to healthier, more resilient skin.

Probiotics and Allergies

Probiotics may also play a role in managing allergies. Modulating the immune system can help reduce the severity of allergic reactions. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with seasonal allergies or food intolerances.

Probiotics and Weight Management

Emerging research suggests that probiotics can aid in weight management. Certain strains of probiotic bacteria can influence metabolism and fat storage, potentially helping with weight loss and maintenance. However, it's important to note that individual responses can vary, and probiotics should be used as part of a comprehensive weight management plan.

Considerations for Probiotic Use

When considering whether probiotics work, making informed decisions to maximize safe and effective use is essential. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Choosing the Right Probiotic Strain

A blue spoon filled with various colorful pills and capsules

Selecting the appropriate probiotic strain is crucial for achieving desired health outcomes. Different strains offer various benefits, so matching the strain to your specific health needs is important. For instance, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is often recommended for digestive health, while Bifidobacterium lactis may be more suitable for immune support.

Probiotic Dosage and Timing

The effectiveness of probiotics can depend on the dosage and timing of consumption. Generally, starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing it is advisable to avoid any discomfort. Most probiotics are best taken on an empty stomach to ensure maximum absorption.

To avoid any discomfort, gradually adding the correct dose of probiotics to your diet is a good idea.

Interactions of probiotics with pharmaceuticals

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Probiotics can interact with certain medications, such as antibiotics or immunosuppressive drugs. If you have any medical conditions or are taking any medicines regularly, it's crucial to consult your doctor before starting probiotics. This is especially important for individuals with compromised immune systems or those at high risk of side effects.

Here are some tips to increase bacterial diversity by rotating probiotic strains to encourage species diversity and a healthy microbiome:

  • Rotate several probiotic strains every few months.
  • Monitor your body's response to each strain.
  • Consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Synbiotics: Prebiotics and Probiotics:

Prebiotics are non-digestible food components that feed bacteria in your body, enhancing their growth and activity. Synbiotics, on the other hand, are formulations that synergistically combine probiotics and prebiotics. This combination improves gut health, digestion, nutrient absorption bioavailability, and antioxidants' effectiveness through cooperative interactions, thereby amplifying health benefits.


Incorporating probiotics into your daily routine can offer a range of benefits, from improved digestive health to enhanced immune system function and even potential advantages for skin health and weight management. Understanding the different types of bacteria and their specific effects on the body is crucial for selecting the right supplement or dietary source.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Signs That Probiotics Are Working?

When you start taking a probiotic supplement, you may notice several positive changes in your body within a few days, such as improved digestion, more energy, better mood, and clearer skin. Often, the first and most immediate change is improved digestion.

What Happens To Your Body If You Stop Taking A Probiotic?

When you discontinue probiotics, several physiological changes can occur.

Firstly, the balance of good bacteria in your gut, which probiotics help maintain, may gradually shift back to its previous state. This alteration could impact overall gut health and digestive function, potentially leading to a recurrence or worsening of symptoms such as bloating, irregular bowel movements, and constipation that probiotics previously helped alleviate.

Additionally, probiotics support immune function by interacting with the gut microbiome, ceasing probiotic use and potentially affecting how effectively your immune responds to challenges.

What Are Some Common Side Effects Of Taking Probiotics?

Some individuals may experience minor side effects such as mild bloating, flatulence, or more frequent bowel movements during the first few days of taking a new probiotic food and supplements.

How Long Does It Take For Probiotics To Show Effects?

Many people feel a difference after a few days. More fundamental effects, such as improvements in mood, weight loss, or a reduction in gut inflammation, might take 4-8 weeks to manifest after beginning probiotic supplementation.

Can Different Probiotic Strains Have Different Effects?

Yes, different organisms have different effects. For instance, one strain of bacteria may help with diarrhea, while another may have no effect. Choosing the right strain for your specific needs is important, ideally in consultation with a healthcare provider.

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Dr. Jeffrey Mark
With over thirty years of experience, Dr. Mark is a leading expert in holistic gut health. His integrative approach combines conventional medicine, functional and regenerative medicine, and advanced therapies to heal the gut and transform patient health. Holding 5 board certifications, Dr. Mark offers the comprehensive expertise of five medical specialists during each patient visit. He is dedicated to optimizing wellbeing by addressing the gut-related root causes of chronic health issues.
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