What Happens When You Stop Taking a Probiotic?
I’ve said it a million times: Essentially, everyone should take a probiotic. You might have noticed more and more people talking about the importance of your gut microbiome, the ecosystem of bacteria, and other microbes that live in your gut. Probiotics help populate the good bacteria in your gut to support a healthy balance in that ecosystem. Yet what happens when you stop taking a probiotic?
If you’ve followed me for some time, you have heard me say nearly 80% of your immune system is located in your gut, and up to 95% of your serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood) is produced in your gut.
If there is an imbalance between good and harmful bacteria, your immune system can get confused and start attacking healthy cells. Suppose your immune system cannot distinguish between healthy cells and an invader such as harmful bacteria. In that case, it can lead to a host of problems, including autoimmunity, depression, anxiety, and leaky gut.
Taking a probiotic daily keeps your microbiome in balance, which promotes a healthy GI tract, relieves digestive discomfort, promotes a regular bowel pattern, and supports overall wellness. When you stop taking a probiotic, it creates an opportunity for the harmful bacteria to grow and overpopulate your gut microbiome. These opportunistic bacteria can lead to an array of problems, including autoimmune disease.
I don’t want you to worry. I will tell you more about the benefits of taking a probiotic, the types of bacteria living in your gut, and what happens when you stop taking a probiotic. Before I do, let’s go over what a probiotic is.
What are Probiotics?
Your gut microbiome is its own ecosystem, a biological community of interacting organisms that live in harmony with one another. I like to imagine the gut microbiome as a rainforest with 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.
Your gut microbiome works the same way. It’s home to 100 trillion microorganisms, including 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, and the harmful bacteria begin to overtake the good bacteria, it can keep all of your systems from working optimally.
Too few or too many microorganisms can cause an array of issues in your gut, such as leaky gut, SIBO, or Candida overgrowth, which are precursors to autoimmune disease, among other troubling problems and uncomfortable symptoms. That’s where probiotics come in!
Probiotics are living microorganisms that can work in your gut to support your body in many ways. They can be found in dietary supplements and fermented foods, as well as within the natural microbiome of your body.1 You have probably seen probiotics in refrigerated cases at your local grocery store because many probiotic bacteria are naturally sensitive to heat and moisture.2
Keeping the bacteria in balance by supplying your microbiome with good bacteria in probiotics can help your rainforest thrive. Let’s talk more about the benefits of taking a probiotic.
The Benefits of Taking a Probiotic
The good bacteria in your gut have a range of essential jobs, including helping you digest food, synthesizing essential vitamins such as the B vitamins thiamine and riboflavin, absorbing water, and fending 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.
Probiotics facilitate optimal digestion and nutrient absorption and promote the production of short-chain fatty acids by breaking down fiber, which your body cannot digest. These short-chain fatty acids impact metabolism, appetite, and energy production.
It’s thought that certain probiotics inhibit the absorption of dietary fat, increasing the amount of fat excreted in your 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 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, yet the most common include Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus.
The good bacteria in your microbiome help protect the cells in your intestinal wall from invading pathogens by crowding them out and breaking them down. Probiotics also promote the repair of damaged tissue by supporting your immune system and the cells that build a structure called the extracellular matrix, which keeps your intestinal lining in good condition.5
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 because we are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, particularly lupus and thyroid conditions like hypothyroidism.6
The good bacteria in your gut promote a healthy inflammatory response to pathogenic (harmful) bacteria. Chronic inflammation is one of the root causes of autoimmunity, so keeping it at bay is critical for optimal health.
Regular Bowel Movements
Regular bowel movements are essential because your gut microbiome must expel toxins and waste products to remain balanced. We get constantly exposed to toxins in our food, water, air, clothing, skin-care products, and cleaning products. Our stress levels have skyrocketed, and many people are dealing with gut issues, such as Candida overgrowth and SIBO, which interfere with proper nutrient absorption. Probiotic bacteria accounts for up to 70% of the bulk of a healthy bowel movement, so it’s vital to ensure you’re getting enough good bacteria to bulk it up.
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 considered the normal range. Generally, a too-short transit time means your digestive system has not 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 too long can ferment and create a feeding ground for bad bacteria, causing gas and bloating, among other ailments.
Probiotics, including Lactobacillus, also influence vaginal bacteria. This probiotic produces lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, which supports your vagina in maintaining an acidic pH level. 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 between 14 and 49 who get bacterial vaginosis yearly.
If you take a probiotic every day and reap all the amazing benefits, you might wonder what happens when you stop taking probiotics. Let’s find out.
What Happens When You Stop Taking Probiotics?
It’s hard to predict what happens when you stop taking probiotics because everyone’s microbiome is different. If you’re considering stopping probiotic supplementation, it’s probably worth remembering why you took them in the first place.
Many people take probiotics to “fix” something, whether that be poor digestion, regular bowel movements, or repopulating 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 were due to an underlying issue such as SIBO or leaky gut. The problem with many probiotics on the market is that they don’t work for SIBO, and many probiotics can worsen your symptoms.
Here’s why. Your small intestine is not meant to have much bacteria in it, and it interferes with digestion and nutrient absorption. Some bacteria are necessary for these functions. you want your bacteria levels to be just right for optimal digestion and absorption. When bacteria are present in the small intestine, they are often of 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 for SIBO are the best probiotics for SIBO.
I knew a more potent probiotic was necessary for patients whose symptoms didn’t get better while taking a probiotic and who didn’t have SIBO. Yet, how do you know which probiotic is right for you?
Which Probiotic Should I Take?
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 because CFUs die off quickly, so by the time you get the probiotic home and take it, you aren’t getting what you bought.
That’s why I formulated Probiotic Capsules 30 Billion for daily maintenance and Probiotic Capsules 100 Billion for rebuilding and rebalancing gut bacteria when 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 of probiotic strains at the most potent strength for optimal gut health. And the best part is they do not require refrigeration and have a long-lasting shelf life.
Both Probiotic Capsules 30 Billion and Probiotic Capsules 100 Billion contain 14 live strains that I carefully selected to work together to support a healthy intestinal microecology for optimal bacteria balance. Among the strains, I included is Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which can help support healthy bowel function, particularly when compromised by antibiotics.
As I mentioned earlier, when it comes to SIBO and probiotics that won’t exacerbate your symptoms, soil-based probiotics don’t colonize in the small intestine or 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.
If you are considering stopping a probiotic, think about why you took them in the first place. Probiotics are essential because they support your health in many ways and offer a wealth of benefits. I take Probiotic Capsules 30 Billion every day for gut maintenance. If balanced, the good bacteria in our gut promotes optimal digestion, immunity, and nutrient absorption, all of which are crucial to every aspect of your health and well-being.
- What Are Probiotics?. WebMD. 2022.
- Why Some Probiotics Require Refrigeration. . Consumer Lab. 2017.
- Good Bacteria Vs. Bad Bacteria: How Bacteria Can Be Healthy Too?. John Staughton. Science ABC. 2022.
- Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 suppresses fatty acid release through enlargement of fat emulsion size in vitro and promotes fecal fat excretion in healthy Japanese subjects. Akihiro Ogawa, et al. Lipids Health Discussion. 2015.
- Probiotics or Pro-healers the Role of Beneficial Bacteria in Tissue Repair. Jovanka Lukic, et al. HHS Author Manuscript. 2019.
- New theory on why more women than men develop autoimmune diseases. Jovanka Lukic, et al. University of Gothenburg. 2018.
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