When to Take Probiotics

Research shows that the survivability of probiotics is greatly enhanced when they are taken with food. Taking them just before or during a meal is the best way to help them survive their journey through the gut.[2]

This is all has to do with the pH balance of your stomach. Stomach acidity is measured by pH. The lower the pH, the more acidity. The higher the pH, the more alkalinity.

As mentioned above, an empty stomach is highly acidic. The pH is very low—around 2 to 3. This is too harsh an environment for most bacteria to survive. However, after a meal, the pH of your stomach contents temporarily rises to a more alkaline value of around 7. The reduced acidity means there is less chance of the probiotics being destroyed.

A study published in the journal Beneficial Microbes showed that taking probiotics with food can make all the difference to their survival. When study participants took their probiotics within 30 minutes of a meal or during a meal, the beneficial bacteria were able to survive in much higher numbers than when taken 30 minutes after a meal.[3]

The small intestine is where nutrients are broken down and absorbed. After leaving the stomach, food and bacteria move through this area fairly quickly, and so there are no huge colonies of flora (bacteria) in the small intestine. The large intestine is where most bacterial colonies reside.

Taking probiotics with meals can help ensure you reap the full benefits of the bacteria. However, this isn’t always convenient!