What happen when you stop taking probiotics?

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Probiotics have become increasingly popular as the daily supplements we take, in addition to vitamins and minerals that we had taken centuries ago. It is because of their potential benefits for our body for both men and women as well as infants and the elderly. It is okay to take them as part of your diet or as supplements, but the question is, “What happens when you stop taking probiotics?”

Why did you start taking probiotics? 

Short-term Purpose

Before thinking about what happens when you stop probiotics, let’s consider why you started taking them. If you started taking probiotics due to some temporary symptoms like constipation, diarrhoea or feeling like you might need probiotics, you will not have any adverse symptoms when you stop taking them. 

Long-Term Medical Conditions

However, if you started taking probiotics due to some chronic medical condition like irritable bowel syndrome, stopping abruptly may result in a reversal of symptoms after two weeks since probiotics cannot stay in your system forever

Probiotics cannot stay in your body forever

probiotics stay in your body

Since probiotics are living microorganisms, they can only function for a certain period and they may die eventually. That is why most doctors use to prescribe probiotics for several weeks or months to relieve gut symptoms

What the research says

In one study, people were given the probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus DR20 for six month period. In 6 out of 10 patients, this became the dominant strain in the population of lactobacilli during the six-month test period. However, two months after stopping treatment, this strain was present in only 1 out of 20 patients in the faecal microflora and some other non-probiotic strains become re-dominant. 

Therefore, when you stop taking probiotics, the levels of different kinds of bacteria in your gut microbiome are likely to return to what they were before. 

So, will the bad bacteria overrule my gut if I stop taking probiotics? 

No, stopping probiotic supplementation will not automatically result in bad bacteria overruling your gut. The human gut is naturally home to a diverse community of bacteria, both beneficial and potentially harmful. The balance between these bacteria is influenced not only by probiotics but also by various factors such as diet, lifestyle, hygiene practices, and so forth. 

Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome involves a combination of factors, including a balanced diet, adequate fibre intake, regular exercise, stress management, and good hygiene practices. These factors contribute to a diverse microbial community, which helps prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria.

What symptoms you are likely to have if you stop taking probiotics? 

Although probiotics are generally considered safe and do not cause any adverse symptoms when stopped taking, some susceptible people may encounter some symptoms after 2 to 3 weeks of stopping. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal Discomfort

How to get rid of such symptoms

It is recommended to stop probiotics gradually rather than immediately stop taking them. In other words, you may gradually reduce the dose or amount you are taking until you completely cease taking probiotics. This may prevent you from such unwanted symptoms. 

On top of that, it is advisable to eat more prebiotics, which is the food for probiotics which may lengthen the survival of probiotics in your body. 

How can I know if I no longer need probiotic supplements?

when to stop taking probiotoics

Whether you still need probiotic supplements or not is best determined through a combination of self-assessment and consultation with a healthcare professional. 

Health condition improvement

If you initially started taking probiotics to address a specific health issue, such as digestive problems or a weakened immune system, monitor whether your symptoms have improved. If your condition has resolved or significantly improved, it may indicate that you no longer require probiotic supplementation.

Overall well-being

If you feel consistently healthy, have regular bowel movements, and experience no major digestive discomfort, it could suggest that your gut microbiome is in good balance, and you may not need probiotics. Therefore it is important to assess your general health and well-being regularly. 

Lifestyle and diet changes

If you have made positive changes to your lifestyle or diet, such as incorporating more fibre-rich foods, probiotic-rich foods (like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut), and prebiotic-rich foods (such as garlic, onions, and bananas), these can naturally promote a healthy gut microbiome. 

If you have been consistently following these practices and noticing positive effects, you might consider reducing or discontinuing probiotic supplements.

Consultation with a healthcare professional

It’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or a registered dietitian, before making any changes to your supplement regimen. They can evaluate your specific health needs, review your medical history, and provide personalized advice based on your circumstances.


So, “What happens when you stop taking probiotics?”

After all, all you need is to Listen to your gut! Whether to stop probiotics or not depend on how you feel in your gut and yet, what will happen after stopping will also depend on your underlying gut status. 

Therefore, it is advisable to start taking probiotics when your body really requires them or when you are prescribed by a healthcare provider and you may consider stopping them if you feel much better applying the tips mentioned herein to get rid of some unwanted symptoms. 

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Dr Tun Min is s GP working in NHS UK and writing articles about supplements and vitamins based on personal clinical experience and clinical research.

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