Do You Need To Take A Probiotic Every Day To Get The Benefits?
There are plenty of areas in life that benefit from consistency, but sometimes throwing caution to the wind brings its own set of joys. Prioritizing your gut microbiome may seem less exciting than most other plans, but it is critical for physical and mental health. So, when it comes to taking probiotics, which way should you lean: scheduled or spontaneous?
To figure out how often you need to take probiotics to reap the benefits, mbg spoke with registered dietitians and functional medicine doctors.
Should you take a probiotic every day?
Four targeted strains to beat bloating and support regularity.*
Everybody's gut microbiome is unique, so there's no one-size-fits-all probiotic plan. However, integrative medicine doctor Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., recommends taking probiotic supplements daily to get the maximum benefits.
"Remember stopping and starting probiotics changes your microbiome," she says. "If the goal is to have a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract and overall immune system, you want to make sure you're constantly taking good-quality probiotics."
Along with taking probiotic supplements, functional medicine doctor Wendie Trubow, M.D., says it's important to eat a diverse diet rich in fiber and beneficial bacteria. As long as these nutrients are making their way into the microbiome, Trubow says missing a few days of a supplement won't be as big of a deal.
The benefits of taking probiotics every day.
Probiotic supplements can have many functions. Diversifying the gut is a big one, Gandhi says, which helps to maintain or restore balance in the gut microbiome.*
"Probiotics create an environment favoring a healthy-functioning gut with minimal inflammation," Davar adds. "If you have a damaged gut, probiotic supplements can help restore a healthy gut barrier."*
While supporting gut health is one obvious benefit, studies have also shown changes in the microbiome can help manage depression, autoimmune disease, heart disease, and more, depending on the strains, Gandhi says.
As for probiotic foods, "Ideally we should always be eating probiotic-rich, fermented food daily," Gandhi says, "but even more so if you are not taking a supplement." These foods introduce multiple new strains of good bacteria to the gut, optimizing the GI tract and diversifying the microbiome, she explains.*
One way to get gut-friendly benefits, while also extending the life span of seasonal produce, is to preserve vegetables. "Making and eating traditional foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, natto, kombucha, and beet kvass is a delicious and fun way to optimize your gut health and strengthen immunity," registered dietitian Ella Davar, R.D., CDN, says.
As a general rule of thumb, Davar recommends getting probiotics from a variety of sources. "Those who don't have time for cooking, or don't like the taste of probiotic-rich foods, might greatly benefit from the supplement," she explains.*
We're all human—missing a day or two of probiotics could happen, and that's not the end of the world. That said, taking a probiotic supplement consistently every day may increase its effectiveness. Plus, in addition to efficacy, sticking to a ritual has its perks. "I'm a big fan of consistency and trying to form habits," Trubow says. "For many people, daily practice works better and is easier to remember than irregular intake."