It can be difficult to know if there are any limitations to your diet when you begin taking any new supplement, as several unhealthy foods can decrease their effectiveness and this can also happen when taking probiotics. The general rule of thumb when it comes to what food/drinks to avoid when on probiotics is more down to the fact that they will stop the good bacteria from working as well. Plus there are foods/drinks that can cause more bad bacteria!
Here are just a couple of foods and drinks to limit or avoid whilst taking probiotics:
- Carbonated Drinks - Sugars and artificial sweeteners are terrible for gut health as they can cause the gut to be saturated in more ‘bad’ bacteria.
- Processed foods - Can cause an imbalance of bacteria and upset the stomach by destroying healthy bacteria (rendering probiotics pointless)
- GMOs - Can negatively alter the function of bacteria in the gut as they can be covered in harmful herbicides.
- Refined Oils - Can cause inflammation in the gut, as well as damage the lining of your intestines and decrease gut health; therefore can interfere with probiotics' effectiveness.
If you cannot avoid these foods and drinks, then it is worth at least limiting your number of them or frequency of consumption. These foods can cause issues to your gut health on their own as well as limiting the effectiveness of probiotics!
How long should you not eat after taking probiotics?
It is advised to wait no more than 2-3 hours after your last meal or give your stomach at least 30 minutes after eating before you take probiotics; for an easy transition for the probiotic to travel from oral ingestion to the gut.
This will ensure that the probiotic bacteria can move through the stomach as fast as possible to reach their final destination. The less obstructed the process is for your probiotic the more effective it can be, and the quick it can help increase your guts ‘good’ bacteria. This will help to ensure that your ‘bad’ bacteria doesn't build up and cause your gut-related health issues like stomach aches, pains and bowel problems. What's more, you may be taking your probiotic to help with your intimate health and clear up a bacterial infection or aid in managing your vaginal microbiome. The quicker the probiotic bacteria can pass through the body, the quicker they can start working inside the body.
Does coffee affect probiotics?
Enjoying a nice even coffee in the morning is considered essential for many busy individuals, as that first-morning mug can be their small bit of peace before a hectic day; we would never want to take that solace away! Even if you take probiotics in the morning, there is no need to worry. Whilst we would not advise that you take a sip of coffee to help you swallow your probiotic there is no harm in doing so. A sip of water is always advised when taking any supplement as it’s not likely to increase the case of thorough burning if the supplement breaks as you swallow.
You can take your probiotic supplement with a glass of water, and then continue to drink your pre-made coffee afterwards. If you would prefer to wait then it’s entirely up to you, but do not worry; coffee is not known to affect your probiotics if taken with or drank immediately before or afterwards.
What medication should you not take with probiotics?
It is not advised to take probiotics if you are already taking certain medications or prescription drugs; as taking both together could cause the probiotics to interfere with the effectiveness of your medication. That is why it is always advised that you discuss any potential probiotic supplements with your GP or prescribing doctor to ensure that they are safe to get simultaneously or if you should pass on the probiotics for the time being.
Antifungal medications (clotrimazole, ketoconazole and griseofulvin) can interact with probiotics and thus would be something you’d want to avoid. When it comes to antibiotics, however, it is believed to be safe for probiotics to be taken alongside antibiotics. This is due to probiotics being believed to increase the effectiveness of antibiotics. It should always state on your probiotic packaging if you can take them if you are also on antibiotics. Although, there is no evidence to suggest that probiotics will interfere with your antibiotics and are even now being recommended by GPs to take both together!
What is the best time to take probiotics?
There is no better or best time to take probiotics as they will be just as effective whether taken in the morning or later in the afternoon. Although, there seem to be quite a few recommendations that lean more towards taking them first thing in the morning. This belief is based on research that suggests that the most ‘optimal’ time to take probiotics is first thing in the morning before eating breakfast. The same research also says that you could take them before going to sleep at night; therefore, it doesn't seem too important when taking your probiotics during the day.
However, even though there is no ‘one best time’ to take probiotics, it is highly advised to take them on an empty stomach. They are believed to be more effective when taken 2-3 hours before or after food so that the live bacteria in each supplement can go straight to the gut and not get slowed down by the body processing food. So, take one probiotic, preferably on an empty stomach for optimal efficiency either first thing in the morning or before going to sleep.
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