I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it a million times: Everyone should take a probiotic. Probiotics help populate the good bacteria in your gut, supporting a healthy balance in that ecosystem. You may have started taking probiotics and wonder if you need to continue taking them. What happens when you stop taking probiotics? 

If you’ve followed me for some time, you have heard me say nearly 80% of your immune system is located in your gut. Additionally, up to 95% of your serotonin is also produced in your gut. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood. As you can see, gut health is a huge deal!

How do you know if you need probiotics? There are many signs, which I’ll get into in a moment. First, let’s take a look at what a balanced microbiome should look like.

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A Balanced Gut Microbiome

How do you know if you need probiotics? Well, if there’s an imbalance between good and bad bacteria, that’s a good indicator. An imbalance in the microbiome can confuse your immune system. Oftentimes, this leads pathogens to start attacking healthy cells. Suppose your immune system cannot distinguish between healthy cells and an invader. Pathogens like harmful bacteria can come in and wreak havoc on your health. Left unchecked, this can lead to a host of problems. Some of what I often see include autoimmunity, depression, anxiety, and leaky gut

Taking probiotics daily keeps your microbiome in balance. In turn, a healthy microbiome promotes a healthy GI tract. What does this mean for you? A healthy GI tract relieves digestive discomfort, including promoting regular bowel patterns. In short, it supports overall wellness! So, what happens when you stop taking probiotics? It creates an opportunity for harmful bacteria to grow. As they grow, they can overpopulate your gut microbiome. These opportunistic bacteria can lead to an array of problems, including autoimmune diseases.

Not to worry, I will share the benefits of taking probiotics, as well as the best probiotic for gut health. I’ll also share what happens when you stop taking probiotics. Before I do, let’s go over what a probiotic is.

What Are Probiotics?

Your gut microbiome is its own ecosystem. This ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms that live in harmony with one another. I like to imagine the gut microbiome as a rainforest. Inside, there are many different species living together. When one species gets out of balance in the rainforest, everything gets out of control. When the balance gets disrupted, the good or beneficial plants begin to die, and the bad ones start to take over. As you can imagine, it’s not a pretty picture.

Your gut microbiome works the same way. Did you know your microbiome is home to 100 trillion microorganisms? That includes at least 400 different species of bacteria! These microbes in your gut play crucial roles in digestion, immunity, metabolism, and mood. Ideally, all these microbes live in a balanced state. However, when the balance is thrown off,  it can keep all of your systems from working optimally. This typically happens when harmful bacteria begin to overtake the good bacteria.

Too few or too many microorganisms can cause an array of issues in your gut. Some start to notice symptoms of leaky gut, SIBO, or Candida overgrowth. These conditions are precursors to autoimmune disease, among other uncomfortable symptoms. That’s where probiotics come in!

Probiotics Are Living Organisms

Probiotics are living microorganisms that can work in your gut to support your body in many ways. You can find them in dietary supplements and fermented foods. Also, they live within the natural microbiome of your body.1 You have probably seen refrigerated probiotics at your local grocery store. That’s because many probiotic bacteria are naturally sensitive to heat and moisture.2

Supplying your microbiome with probiotics can help maintain a healthy bacteria balance. Let’s talk more about the benefits of taking a probiotic.

What Happens When You Stop Taking a Probiotic?

It’s a bit tricky to predict what happens when you stop taking probiotics. After all, everyone’s microbiome is different. If you’re considering discontinuing your probiotics, take a moment to remember why you took them in the first place.

Many people take probiotics to try and “fix” something. Meaning, they take probiotics to help alleviate poor digestion or regulate bowel movements. Some take them to repopulate good bacteria after a round of antibiotics. Once the reason for taking them is over, they stop taking probiotics. Some people are okay after stopping probiotics, while others see their symptoms return. 

Most of my patients whose symptoms returned after stopping probiotics had underlying issues. In many cases, it could be conditions such as SIBO or leaky gut. The problem with many probiotics on the market is that they don’t work for SIBO. In fact, many probiotics can make your symptoms worse!

Here’s why this happens. Your small intestine is not meant to have a lot of bacteria in it. Having too much bacteria actually interferes with digestion and nutrient absorption. Some bacteria are necessary for these functions. The key is to have your bacteria levels to be just right for optimal digestion and absorption. When there are bacteria in the small intestine, it’s often the lactobacillus or bifidobacterium species.

Most probiotic supplements contain lactobacillus or bifidobacterium. So, using this type of probiotic increases the bacteria in your small intestine and adds fuel to the fire. For this reason, I believe soil-based probiotics are the best probiotic for gut health, especially those with SIBO.

As you can tell, there are different probiotics for different concerns. Yet, how do you know which probiotic is right for you?

The Benefits of Taking a Probiotic

The good bacteria in your gut have a range of essential jobs. For instance, they help you digest food, synthesize essential vitamins, and absorb water. Good bacteria also fend off dangerous bacteria that can upset your gut microbiome.3 So, why is it important to take a probiotic? Well, I’m going to tell you about the benefits of taking a probiotic.

The Benefits of Taking a Probiotic - Infographic - Amy Myers MD®

Probiotics Support Optimal Weight

Probiotics facilitate optimal digestion and nutrient absorption. In addition, they promote the production of short-chain fatty acids. They do this by breaking down fiber, which your body doesn’t digest. These short-chain fatty acids impact metabolism, appetite, and energy production.

It’s thought that certain probiotics inhibit the absorption of dietary fat. As a result, you may have more fatty stool. In other words, they make your body “harvest” fewer calories from the foods you eat — certain bacteria, such as those from the Lactobacillus family, function in this way.4

Probiotics Support Gut Balance

Probiotics support a healthy balance of gut flora in your body. As I mentioned, everyone’s gut has a mix of good and bad bacteria. The most common examples of good bacteria are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus. There are many types of harmful bacteria as well. Furthermore, the most common of these include Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus. 

Additionally, good bacteria help protect your intestinal wall from invading pathogens. They do this by crowding them out and breaking them down. Probiotics also promote the repair of damaged tissue by supporting your immune system. In addition, probiotics support the cells that build a structure called the extracellular matrix. The extracellular matrix keeps your intestinal lining in good condition.5

Probiotics Support Your Immune System

I’ve always said your gut is the gateway to your health. Remember, 80% of your immune system is in your gut. This is especially important to women. Women are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, particularly lupus and thyroid conditions.6

The good bacteria in your gut also promote a healthy inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation is one of the root causes of autoimmunity. For this reason, keeping inflammation at bay is critical for optimal health.

Probiotics Support A Regular Bowel

Regular bowel movements are essential to a healthy life. Furthermore, your gut microbiome must expel toxins and waste products to remain balanced. We are constantly exposed to toxins. Some toxins are in our food, water and air. Other toxins are in our clothing. You’ll even find toxins in our skin-care products and cleaning products!

Our stress levels have also skyrocketed, and many people are dealing with gut issues. For example, Candida overgrowth and SIBO often interfere with proper nutrient absorption. Not only that, but probiotic bacteria account for up to 70% of the bulk of a healthy bowel movement. Now you understand why it’s so vital to ensure you’re getting enough good bacteria in your system.

Probiotics Promote Bowel Transit Time

Not only do probiotics help make you more regular, they also promote quicker transit time of your stool through your colon. Bifidobacterium lactis, in particular, supports your body in moving waste along at the optimal speed. 

While this varies from person to person and even day by day, a 12-48 hour window is within the normal range. Generally, too short of a transit time means your digestive system hasn’t had the opportunity to absorb as much water and nutrients as it should. This can result in diarrhea or loose stools, dehydration, and nutritional deficiencies. 

Waste that passes too slowly can be difficult to pass because too much water gets extracted from it. Furthermore, waste that remains in the body for too long can ferment. This creates a feeding ground

Waste that passes too slowly can be difficult to pass because too much water gets extracted from it. Furthermore, waste that remains in the body for too long can ferment and create a feeding ground for bad bacteria. You guessed it, this can cause gas and bloating, among other ailments. 

Probiotics Support Vaginal Wellness

Probiotics, including Lactobacillus, also influence vaginal bacteria. This probiotic produces lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide help maintain an acidic pH level in the vagina. This high acid helps the vagina fight bacterial infections such as bacterial vaginosis. This makes lactobacillus one of the best probiotics for vaginal health. That’s good news for the more than 21 million American women who get bacterial vaginosis yearly. The average age range for these women is between 14 and 49 years old.

By now, you have an idea of what happens when you stop taking probiotics. Now, it’s time to look into the best probiotic for gut health. 

Best Probiotic For Gut Health

Finding the best probiotic for gut health can be a challenge. I searched for years to find a high-quality probiotic without any luck. Most probiotics on the market require refrigeration and have a short shelf life. That’s because CFUs die off quickly. By the time you get the probiotic home and take it, you aren’t getting what you bought. 

That’s why I formulated two specific probiotics. Probiotic Capsules 30 Billion supports daily maintenance. Probiotic Capsules 100 Billion for rebuilding and rebalancing gut bacteria. I also recommend Probiotic Capsules 100 Billion for other reasons. Examples include taking antibiotics, fighting Candida overgrowth, or working to repair a leaky gut. Probiotic Capsules 30 Billion and Probiotic Capsules 100 Billion ensure you’re getting the highest quality probiotic strains at the most potent strength. It’s the perfect solution for optimal gut health. And the best part is they do not require refrigeration! They also have a long-lasting shelf life. 

Both probiotics contain 14 live strains that I carefully selected. Together, they work to support a healthy intestinal microecology for optimal bacteria balance. Among the strains, I included is Lactobacillus rhamnosus. This probiotic can help support healthy bowel function, particularly when compromised by antibiotics. 

As I mentioned earlier, soil-based probiotics don’t colonize in the small intestine. They also don’t feed the bacteria already growing there. Soil-based probiotics do not contain lactobacillus or bifidobacterium strains, yet they still provide all the benefits of a probiotic.

Many wonder when the best time to take a probiotic is. I recommend taking them with a meal to discourage any upset stomach.

The Final Word on Stopping Your Probiotic Use

If you are considering stopping your probiotics, think about why you took them in the first place. Probiotics are essential because they support your health in many ways. They offer a wealth of benefits! Typically, what happens when you stop taking probiotics is usually nothing good. 

The best probiotic for gut health will depend on your specific needs. I take Probiotic Capsules 30 Billion every day for gut maintenance. You may need something stronger if your microbiome is compromised. Remember, we’re after a healthy balance. A healthy gut microbiome can promote optimal digestion, immunity, and nutrient absorption. After all, these are all crucial to every aspect of your health and well-being.