3 Reasons Your Probiotic Isn't Working & How To Choose A Better One
When you start taking a new supplement, it's only natural to want to see results quickly. With probiotics, many people can expect improvements within three weeks—though it depends on the person and the product they're taking. Passed this threshold long ago and still not seeing or feeling any noticeable changes? Here are three reasons your probiotic may not be working for you and how to find a better alternative:
Its strains aren't right for your intended purpose
While "probiotics" is often used as a blanket term, there are actually thousands of different strains of probiotics out there, with more being discovered each day. And no two strains are the same; each type of bacteria has a slightly different impact on the body. Just like you wouldn't take vitamin B-12 to help with a vitamin D deficiency, you shouldn't take a probiotic with Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 (for easing bloat1) and expect it to provide vaginal pH support (Lactobacillus reuteri UALre-16 would be better suited for that2).*
It's a complicated microbial world out there, and to make it easier to navigate, the company you're buying from should clearly list the bacteria used in their product (down to the strain level) and what they have been clinically studied for.
It doesn't have enough "good bugs"
To be clear, more isn't always better when it comes to probiotics. However, the colony-forming units (CFUs) in your product should be clinically relevant. In other words, the number of strains included should match up with the number of strains that have shown to be effective in a research setting.
Again, buying from a transparent company will help with this. Opt for a probiotic that has the CFUs of all strains clearly listed, and beware of proprietary blends that don't provide this information.
It doesn't fit in with your lifestyle
Some probiotics need to be consumed in large serving sizes, while others must be refrigerated once they make it to your home. Depending on your lifestyle and needs, these factors can keep you from taking the product daily (which is often essential for results).
Opt for one that you can seamlessly fit into your existing routine instead. And don't forget to pair your supplement with biome-beneficial lifestyle habits too: Get plenty of sleep, spend time in nature and get your hands dirty, eat a plant-rich diet, and only use antibiotics when necessary.
Finding a better option
In the market for a new probiotic? Here are a few that tick the boxes above and have rave customer reviews.
For gut health: For a supplement that supports gut health, you can't beat mindbodygreen's probiotic+. Each one-capsule serving contains 10 billion CFUs of B. lactis Bi-07, shown to ease bloating and promote gut comfort1; 10 billion CFUs of B. lactis B420, which has been shown in clinical trials3 to support the gut barrier and encourage healthy weight; 2 billion CFUs of B. lactis HN019 to support digestion and regularity; and 10 billion CFUs of L. acidophilus NCFM to encourage healthy bowel movements4. Our science team hand-picked these strains for their ability to noticeably improve digestion and nutrient absorption and promote abdominal comfort and regularity.* Read all about why reviewers are calling this supplement a "5-course meal" for the gut microbiome. Bonus: There's no need to refrigerate this shelf-stable formula.
For healthy weight: The B. lactis B420 in mindbodygreen's probiotic has been found to support a healthy weight in clinical trials. For a probiotic that's exclusively weight-focused, Bariatric Advantage's FloraVantage Control Capsules isolate 10 billion CFUs of B. lactis B420 in a clean, single-strain product.*
For vaginal health: And for a top product for women's health and vaginal comfort, we've identified Ora Lady Bugs—a blend of six research-backed strains of Lactobacillus5 (the bacterial genus that composes most of the vaginal microbiome) in clinically relevant doses. These strains can support a healthy vaginal pH and overall vaginal health and comfort.*
There are a few reasons you might not be getting results with your existing probiotic supplement. It might not contain the right strains in the correct amounts, or it may just not fit into your lifestyle. If you're in the market for a new option, mindbodygreen's probiotic+, Bariatric Advantage's FloraVantage Control Capsules, and Ora Lady Bugs are a few of our favorites for different needs—but you can check out a complete list of the best probiotics of 2023 here.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.