If you’ve been taking a probiotic supplement, you may be wondering if it’s working or not.
After all, even if you do experience some health benefits after taking probiotics, how do you know if it was from the probiotics, random chance, or from something like eating a better diet?
Or maybe you can’t pinpoint any health benefits you’ve gotten from probiotics.
In this article, you’ll find several signs that your probiotics are working.
Many people turn to probiotics because of frequent digestive discomfort. When the microbiome (the collection of microorganisms in the gut) gets out of balance (known as dysbiosis), it can cause all sorts of uncomfortable symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, and more.
When you take probiotics, you’re able to break down the food you eat better. So if you’ve been taking probiotics for a while and notice less overall digestive discomfort, it’s a good sign that it’s working.
When your microbiome is unbalanced, it can cause not just digestive discomfort but also abnormal bowel movements. What’s considered a normal bowel movement ranges from person to person but frequent diarrhea or constipation is not and may be due to an imbalanced microbiome and should be evaluated by your doctor.
A healthy bowel movement is soft but formed and does not cause pain.
If you’re having healthier bowel movements after taking probiotics, the probiotics are likely doing their job. Drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy diet also goes a long way towards having healthier bowel movements.
The gut and the brain are connected and communicate with one another. This connection goes both ways. Stress can cause harm to gut health and conversely, poor gut health can cause stress.
If your gut health is in a bad state, you may experience symptoms related to stress such as poor sleep, restlessness, weight loss/weight gain, headaches, stiff/sore muscles, and more.
Improving your gut health means less gut inflammation, better microbial balance of the gut, and as a result, less stress and anxiety.*
Research into the gut-brain axis is still ongoing, but there are many indications that what affects the microbiome also affects the brain and vice versa. When your gut microbiome is out of balance, it can have a negative effect on your mood. To make problems worse, your mood can be negatively impacted by experiencing uncomfortable symptoms associated with an imbalanced microbiome.
A 2007 study found that a yogurt containing probiotics improved mood in study participants. (1) Another study found that in patients with major depressive disorder, symptoms were “significantly reduced” (measured by Beck Depression Inventory) compared to the placebo group.
If your mood has improved after taking probiotics, there’s a good chance it’s because your gut health has improved.*
If you’ve been taking probiotics, you may have noticed that you haven’t been getting sick as often. That’s because probiotics have immune-enhancing properties, especially in people more at risk for having weaker immune systems, such as the elderly. (2)
Probiotics may do this in a number of ways. It’s possible they may enhance the barrier function of cells that make up part of our immune health. (3)
Some studies have shown that probiotics likely work to increase certain antibodies that are found naturally in the body, which fight off pathogenic microorganisms (harmful bacteria and viruses). (4) (5)
You may have found that the severity of your allergy symptoms reduced after taking probiotics. And if you have allergies, you’re not alone: as many as 50 million Americans experience allergies each year. (6)
Research into this topic is still ongoing into how probiotics help to ease allergies. It may be because probiotics reduce signals of inflammation associated with allergies.
Some studies have shown improvement of rhinitis with probiotics. (7)
Researchers aren’t 100% clear as to whether probiotics promote weight loss, but poor gut health does have links to obesity (although this could just be a correlation rather than causation). (8)
In a study in women, the participants who took a probiotic containing lactobacillus rhamnosus, lost more weight than the placebo group. (9)
A 2013 study found that study participants who took a supplement containing a lactobacillus strain lost 3-4% body fat over a period of 6 weeks. (10) Another study found that people who took a milk product containing Lactobacillus gasseri over a 12 week period lost 8.2-8.5% body fat. (11) Do keep in mind though that more studies need to be done to confirm these findings.
There is some evidence that probiotics have benefits for digestive disorder symptoms such as IBS. (12) If you have a digestive disorder and you’ve seen some relief from your symptoms, it may have been due to probiotics.
You may find that you feel more energized after taking a daily probiotic supplement.
Probiotics may boost energy levels in a number of ways.
Probiotic bacteria help break down and digest all the food we eat. Having enough good bacteria in our system is important for nutrient absorption. Some probiotic strains even help produce nutrients that give us energy, such as vitamin B and vitamin K. (13)
Probiotics can also help with having more energy because they promote better quality sleep. (14)
Gut health and our general health are so intertwined that improving one is likely to improve the other as well. So if you’ve been taking probiotics you may have found that specific aspects of your health have improved. And because the health benefits of probiotics are so broad, you may find that you feel an overall better sense of well-being.
If you’re taking probiotics and you’ve noticed some health benefits, keep taking them so they continue to do their job! Also, consider taking them with a prebiotic supplement so that your probiotics have a food source and you maximize the health benefits you get.
If you’ve been taking a probiotic supplement for some time and you haven’t noticed any health benefits, you could be taking a low quality supplement.
Our probiotic supplement, BlueBiotics Ultimate Care, was scientifically-formulated with 11 probiotic strains to provide the most health benefits possible and to work synergistically with our broad-spectrum prebiotic supplement, BlueBiology Prebiotic.