Nowadays it seems like we hear about the benefits of probiotics everywhere we turn. New studies continue to find a strong connection between a balanced gut and overall well-being, and more and more health practitioners are recommending probiotic supplements to their patients to help balance the gut and promote good digestive health.‡ Still, many people question whether or not there are any probiotics side effects. Here is the answer:
“Side effects” is actually a medical term used in the labeling of various pharmaceutical products. Probiotics are not pharmaceutical drugs. They are dietary supplements that have many beneficial effects on the human body.‡ Some of those effects include better elimination, changes in bowel habits, and—similar to when you consume a new food—they may produce occasional gas or bloating.‡ Also similar to consuming a new food, eating too much may present digestive challenges for the first-time user.‡
Essentially, it is possible to consume too much for your constitution the first time, and a way to address that and improve the effectiveness of your probiotic supplement is to decrease the dose by half or more in the beginning. Then, gradually increase the amount each day until your body adjusts and you are satisfied with the results.
Remember: probiotics are the “good” or “friendly” bacteria that occur naturally in the gut, but factors such as age, poor diet, stress, and the use of certain medications (including antibiotics) can deplete our bodies of billions of good bacteria and upset a healthy digestive balance. Ninety percent of digestion and up to 80 percent of immune function occurs in the digestive tract, so having a good balance of bacteria is important to our digestive, immune, and overall health.‡