Although probiotics have been around a long while, they're finally becoming a popular mainstream health and wellness product — you'll see probiotic waters, granolas, and even mug muffins at the grocery store nowadays. And it's for good reason! Probiotics are crucial for balancing your gut to be healthier, getting sick less often, having a better mood, and banishing bloating for good.
Culinary nutritionist Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP, has helped us better understand probiotics and their role in a healthy body, so we asked for her tips on how to take them each day — and for how long we should be taking them. She also noted that a probiotic regimen will affect each body differently.
"Each of us is different, so see what works for you," said Amie. "Keep a note in your journal [to log] how you feel taking the probiotics versus not taking them (and also when you eat probiotic-rich foods). We're under so much stress — from our air pollution to our processed foods to our own stresses — this good bacteria will be beneficial!"
- Take them before you eat. Amie suggests you "take probiotics on an empty stomach, so they don't ferment with the foods [you're] eating." Pop one of these probie pills first thing in the morning before you have your first cup of coffee.
- Take them daily. Consistency is key! Especially when you're first beginning your probiotic regimen, it's important to take them daily to notice results. "My suggestion is to keep yourself on a routine of taking the probiotics," she said.
- It's an ongoing effort. When I first started my probiotic regimen, I asked Amie if this is a temporary treatment to rebalance an imbalanced gut, or if my body now depends on the probiotics to have that balance. She suggested taking probiotics as an ongoing effort, but checking in now and then to see how you feel off the pills, as everyone's body is different. "See what works for you!" she said. "The microbiome of the gut is an ever-changing ecosystem, but a steady probiotic routine can help to minimize fluctuations that can cause digestive imbalance in your body."
- Take monthly breaks. Check in with your body and see how you feel after you've been on probiotics for a while. "You can give yourself breaks each month," said Amie. "I've been taking probiotics for over 10 years now, but I do give my body a break for a few days a month, and I make note of how I feel on those days to see if there is any correlation between the bacteria and the way I feel."
- Don't forget them on vacation. "I always pack them when I travel," said Amie. She also noted that "most of my clients get tummy issues from the altitude from planes (constipation) and other bloating issues from eating rich food at restaurants that their bodies aren't used to." Note to self: keep a spare pack of probiotics in the suitcase.