In previous times, the Bulgarians residing in the Caucasus Mountains exhibited exceptional longevity as compared to others. The reason for this discovery was credited to Dr. Metchnikoff, who observed that they consumed a fermented yogurt drink daily. This marked the beginning of probiotic research, which has now become a prominent health trend across the globe.
If you are among those individuals who consume probiotics, it is paramount to ensure their efficacy. Therefore, let’s take a look at the eight telltale signs that show your good friends are doing their job.
Eight tell-tale signs your probiotics are working
- Smoother digestion with less bloating and gas
When your digestive system malfunctions, it can result in unpleasant discomforts like gas and bloating, particularly after meals. Such symptoms are indicative of poor gut health, where a lack of beneficial bacteria hinders proper food digestion. Fortunately, a thriving population of good bacteria can enhance your digestive efficiency and alleviate excessive gas and bloat arising from an imbalanced gut microbiome.
Improvement in digestion is one of the first signs of the immaculate functionality of your probiotics.
- More regular bowel movements
Inequity in the arrangement of beneficial microbes in your gut can lead to irregularity in bowel movements, either in the form of constipation or diarrhea. Probiotics will help bring more good bacteria into your gut so that they overthrow the harmful bacteria. Consequently, your bowel movements will begin to normalize.
The regularity and appropriate texture of your bowel movements is a clear indication that your probiotic regimen is functioning optimally.
- Increased energy levels
The food you eat provides energy for your body. When your gut microbiome is out of balance, it fails to absorb the essential vitamins and nutrients from your food properly. As a result, you may feel weary for most of the day. Probiotics not only balance out the gut microbiota but also create B vitamins, which are crucial for energy production.
Therefore, if you feel more energetic after taking probiotics, you can be sure that your probiotics are working.
- Less prone to illness (improved immunity)
Your gut flora not only improves digestion but also enhances your immune function. In addition, a balanced gut microbiome can also reinforce immunity by facilitating the appropriate digestion and absorption of vital nutrients such as zinc and vitamin C, which support immunity.
Therefore, if you have been experiencing fewer colds than before, your probiotics could be the reason behind it.
- Fewer vaginal infections
Healthy women have Lactobacillus or lactic acid-producing bacteria in their vaginal flora. These bacterial strains create an acidic environment, which inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. However, certain factors such as menstruation, pregnancy, sexual practices, and vaginal douching, can reduce the Lactobacillus population and lead to bacterial vaginosis.
Taking Lactobacillus as a probiotic can help maintain a healthy vaginal flora and decrease the frequency of vaginal infections.
So having fewer vaginal infections is a sign that your probiotic is optimally functioning.
- Improved mood, concentration, and mental clarity
Your gut is constantly telephoning your brain by producing numerous messenger signals, which include neurotransmitters, namely, serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.
Serotonin, the so-called happy hormone, regulates mood and induces a sense of focus, happiness, and tranquility. Dopamine, on the other hand, is associated with pleasurable feelings. Conversely, low levels of GABA are linked to mood disorders. Therefore, an imbalance in gut bacteria and inflammation in the gut can adversely affect one’s mental well-being.
If you experience improved mental clarity, heightened focus, and fewer mood swings, the efficacy of your probiotics could be the underlying factor.
- Better sleep
Melatonin is the key hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycles. The pineal gland has long been known to produce this critical hormone. But do you know that enterochromaffin cells of your gut synthesize melatonin too?
According to scientists, the concentration of melatonin in the gastrointestinal tissues can exceed blood levels by 10-100 times with the amount found in the gut being at least 400 times greater than that produced by the pineal gland. As such, it is clear that poor gut health can hurt your sleep cycle.
Hence, if your sleeping patterns return to normalcy, you can be assured that your probiotics are performing very well.
- Lessened sugar cravings
The presence of excessive harmful bacteria in the gut may lead to persistent sugar cravings as they constantly send signals to the brain. This is particularly true if your diet is loaded with high-sugar foods that trigger inflammation and disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria. Incorporating probiotics into your diet can help suppress these cravings by restoring the balance between good and harmful bacteria.
In fact, a decrease in sugar cravings is a sign that the probiotics are effectively fulfilling their role.
How long does it take for probiotics to work?
The short answer is: Typically 3-4 weeks. It may be different, though, depending on the specific outcome you’re aiming for, the state of your gut right now, and the quality of the probiotic you are consuming. There are signs that you can look out for : signs that probiotics are working.
For instance, if you are taking probiotics for acute watery diarrhea, a high-quality probiotic will help shorten the duration and frequency of diarrhea by 2 days.
For dysbiosis, it may take weeks of consistent use to reset your gut depending on how inflamed and unbalanced your microbiome was to begin with.
Best time to take probiotics
According to research, the survival of probiotics in the product was best when given with a meal or 30 mins before a meal. The researchers also found that survival was significantly better if the meal contained some fats.
The good news is that timing doesn’t matter if you take probiotics that use microencapsulation and enteric-coating (delayed-release capsules). Because these capsules operate as a protective barrier for your probiotics, you can take them at any time. You also don’t have to be concerned about whether there is fat in your meal.
Additionally, probiotics like Saccharomyces boulardii can endure any circumstance and transit through the GI tract without difficulty. The timing of the meal has no bearing on their chance of surviving.
Why is your probiotic not yet working and what to do?
It might be discouraging when you don’t notice the clinical progress you were expecting for a long length of time. Before exploring an alternative, you must first tackle the reasons why they are not working and fix them.
#The probiotic strain isn’t right for you.
One of the reasons you aren’t seeing results is that the probiotic strain isn’t suited for you. You must find the proper match that has scientific proof to back up the health advantages you want.
To avoid this issue, talk with your healthcare practitioner to establish which product is best for you.
#The dose is inadequate.
When first starting with probiotics, it is usually best to start with a modest dose. However, you must gradually increase it till you observe positive effects.
Furthermore, you must take them regularly because probiotics do not last long in the system.
#The timing is wrong.
You must take probiotics as directed (e.g., with meals or on an empty stomach) depending on the different forms of probiotics. Otherwise, they will perish when exposed to the harsh acidic environment of your stomach.
#You are taking dead bacteria/ expired probiotics.
Probiotic supplements have an expiration date, but they might sometimes die much sooner. Improper storage and handling can reduce shelf life, and you may be taking a supplement with too little or no active bacteria at all. As a result, there is almost no chance it can make a clinical difference.
Therefore, store and handle your probiotics properly as per instructions on the label to ensure that your probiotics stay good.
You cannot supplement your way out of a bad diet
“Don’t spend your time fetching water with a basket for it will never get filled up”, said Topsy Gift.
Taking supplements to fix your gut issues while you are on a poor diet is the same as fetching water with a basket. While it is understandable that adhering to a well-balanced diet can be challenging amidst the chaos of daily life, it is crucial to prioritize a healthy diet. If your gut issues persist despite taking probiotics, it is essential to reflect on your dietary and lifestyle practices. Remember, maintaining a healthy gut involves more than just consuming probiotics.
Let’s wrap up!
One shoe will not fit every foot. The aforementioned signs are true indications that they are working for one’s benefit. However, the effectiveness and timing of the outcomes would be different from person to person and it is best to rely on practical signs on an individual basis. And if your probiotics are not working, make sure the strain, dose, and timing are correct and give it some more time to do its job.