Is it ok to take probiotics every day?
We are often asked by our natural health practitioners and retailers whether it is ok to take our probiotics every day, and whilst there may be a few exceptions to this rule, the general answer to that is, not only is it safe, but it is also desirable to take them on an ongoing basis.
The first point to mention here is that probiotics are a natural supplement and not a medicine.
Fermented foods have been part of the traditional diets of many different ethnic groups for centuries. Using foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha people have been consuming probiotics and benefitting from their health-promoting properties for generations, but it has only been much more recently that we have been able to benefit from them in an easy-to-take capsule form.
For those that either do not like the taste of fermented foods, or simply find them difficult to include in their diet on a regular basis, or for those who prefer to use specific targeted strains of bacteria to benefit their own unique set of symptoms, then probiotic supplements are a good choice.
But why take them on an ongoing basis?
Many of our customers choose to take our probiotics every day, whilst some might just use them periodically or whenever they feel that their digestive health needs a boost. Whichever way you find works best for you or your clients, it is worth remembering that many, many factors can negatively affect the probiotic colonies in our gut.
So, whilst you might think that once you have established good gut flora that it can then be left to its own devices, in reality our lifestyles are now so challenging for our microbiome that many of us need to nurture it on an ongoing basis.
Most people know that antibiotics do not differentiate between the good and bad bacteria in our guts, and therefore negatively impact on our probiotic colonies, but we often do not look at all the different sources of antibiotics in our food chain. Not only are we exposed to antibiotics when we take them ourselves, but we are exposed to low levels all the time if we eat non-organic meat and dairy produce. These have a similarly negative impact on our gut flora.
In addition, we are often exposed to chemicals such as chlorine in our drinking water. Chlorine is a strong anti-microbial agent, and whilst it helps to keep undesirable bacteria out of our water supply, it also damages our delicate gut flora.
Other factors that deplete our flora include, over-consumption of sugar, contraceptive pills, HRT medication and stress. With all of these things in mind it is easy to see why a daily top-up of probiotics would be a good idea for many people. Like most vitamins and minerals, we do not produce probiotics ourselves, so we need an external source of them.
Even when taken on a daily basis and at high doses it is extremely difficult to over-dose on probiotics, so natural health practitioners and retailers can confidently recommend them to their clients. For more on this subject you may like to read our FAQ; 'Is it possible to overdose on probiotics?'
Can we become ‘dependent’ on them?
One concern people often have is whether their digestive system will become ‘lazy’ if they take probiotics every day. But, rest assured, probiotics are not like laxatives and other medications which can cause the gut to become lazy and reliant on them in order to function. They are simply replenishing something that should naturally be present in the digestive tract anyway.
We receive many reviews from happy customers that take our probiotics on a long-term basis, such as the below review from Stuart in Brighton, who has been taking our product 'For every day' for the last six years:
'I cannot praise this product enough. In 2008/9 I was in a terrible state. I could hardly eat and had barely enough energy to leave the house. It came on out of nowhere and after months of tests still nothing showed up, so my GP suggested I look into probiotics as she felt as though some kind of digestive issue was the cause. Well, after a lot of experimentation with other types/brands (that didn't really seem to help much) my mum found Optibac at a local pharmacy. I gave it a go and WOW! Within 3 days my symptoms had disappeared and I got my life back. It's no exaggeration to say I was staggered and remain so even 6 years later. I would (and do) recommend Optibac to anyone interested. Thank you!'
To read more on the subject of long-term use of probiotics, and whether that can lead to dependency read our FAQ; 'Is there a risk of dependency when taking probiotics?'
When should someone NOT take Probiotics?
Probiotics are some of the safest natural supplements available, and they have very few contraindications. There are very few groups of people who we recommend exercise a degree of caution when they are considering supplementation with live cultures, for example people who are either immune-supressed (or taking immune suppressive medication), and people with dark blood in their stools. Under these circumstances, it would be wise to seek the advice of a GP, or refer a client on to their own GP, before recommending probiotic supplementation. For more information see our contraindications FAQ, for more information on this.
Outside of this, probiotics can be taken safely by many groups of people and on an ongoing basis. With regards to medications and natural remedies, there are no known contraindications. The only point to take in to account here is if a supplement has antibacterial or anti-fungal properties. If it does, like garlic for example, then I would recommend that you take the probiotic at least a couple of hours either side of the other supplement, so as not to damage the bacteria. But with regards to safety, probiotics can be taken alongside all natural remedies without any problem.
Probiotics often play a very important part of any natural health regime. Whether someone is looking to alleviate specific symptoms, or just hoping to give their health a bit of a boost, then probiotics can be helpful. Due to unfavourable lifestyle factors that compromise our gut flora it is often necessary to replenish our probiotic colonies on an ongoing basis, and supplementation is perhaps the easiest way to do so.
To read more about how dietary factors affect the microbiome, and which steps you can take to boost your friendly bacteria through diet you may like to read Jacob's informative blog post entitled 'Gut microbiota responsive to diet '.
In my opinion anyway, there is certainly nothing to lose, and potentially a lot to gain.
Image references: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lauren-slayton/benefits-of-breakfast_b_4179815.html