Probiotics are live, helpful microbes found in foods like yogurt, milk, kimchi, and pickle or taken as a supplement. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two common probiotic strains; they have distinct effects on the body, but both contribute to healthy gut flora.
It has been found that these beneficial bacteria can alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food intolerances, and some illnesses when present in sufficient numbers.
While studies show probiotics to be generally safe, it’s still vital to take precautions when taking them. This page discusses signs of too much probiotics, how to reduce symptoms, and how to find the optimal daily dosage.
Bloating, Gas, And Other Digestive Symptoms
Mild stomach discomfort, gas, diarrhea, or bloating may occur in the first few days of using probiotics as the gut microbiota rebalances. Experiencing these symptoms is not always indicative of a dose that is too high, and they tend to go away within a few days. However, it could be time to reduce your probiotic use if you have persistent adverse effects.
Some Probiotics Increase Infection Risk
Some people who use probiotics may get infections. Since there is an increased risk for infection, you should consider probiotic supplements with caution if you have a weaker immune system due to an illness or have recently undergone surgery. Before beginning a probiotic supplement regimen, it is recommended that you consult with your healthcare provider.
Probiotic Amines Cause Headaches
Irresponsible biogenic amine production by certain bacterial strains in probiotic meals has been linked to headaches in some consumers. Because your intestines can detoxify biogenic amines before they create unwanted effects, it is safe to ingest foods that produce them in small amounts. Overloading the intestinal detoxification system with biogenic amines might cause unpleasant side effects, including headaches.
Fermented foods, especially those high in probiotics like cheese, dried meat, wine, and some types of fish, are excellent sources of biogenic amines. It’s highly improbable that taking a probiotic supplement will cause the body to produce biogenic amines, which might cause unwanted effects.
Side Effects From Some Ingredients
Although probiotic supplements may include beneficial microorganisms, they may also contain chemicals introduced during manufacture that may cause allergic reactions in some people. Rather than the bacteria themselves, allergens like lactose, soy, or egg may be to blame for adverse reactions to probiotics in certain people. If you have sensitivities and allergies to these substances, you must read supplement labels and prevent these probiotics.
Some Strains May Raise Histamine Levels
Histamines are biogenic amines that can be produced by lactic-acid bacterial strains found in foods. Lactobacillus is often employed in the manufacturing of fermented foods like yogurt and cheese and, therefore, can result in products that are high in histamine.
Histamine is involved in several essential physiological functions, including the immunological response and the production of gastric acid during digestion, but it can cause moderate toxicity in large doses. Some people experience nausea and shortness of breath when their histamine levels rise.
Note: Be cautious about selecting a probiotic that contains strains that do not release histamine.
Reducing Potentially Harmful Effects of Probiotics
You don’t have to stop taking probiotics if you encounter any of the aforementioned adverse effects. In many cases, reducing the dosage to a manageable level is the best way to avoid unpleasant side effects like stomach upset.
Often, all your body needs are a time to get used to the newfound abundance of good bacteria. Most people must undergo this for a few days before their gut flora returns to normal. If you find that reducing your dose helps, do so until your symptoms have resolved, and then resume your regular dosage.
In addition to lessening your dosage, try the following:
Taking Your Probiotics On An Empty Stomach
When consumed with specific foods, probiotics might trigger bloating and gas. A probiotic supplement taken on an empty stomach prevents this from happening and maximizes the beneficial bacteria’s chance of survival. Make sure to consume your probiotics 30 minutes before eating. If the issues persist, consider taking the probiotics in the evening on an empty stomach.
The effects of probiotics may not become apparent for up to two weeks while the body adjusts to them.
Be Sure To Hydrate Well By Drinking Lots Of Water
The detoxification process in your digestive system is likely responsible for many of the symptoms you may experience. Drinking enough fluids might help you feel better faster and prevent dehydration if you have diarrhea.
There’s No “Correct” Probiotic Dose
The daily dosing of probiotics will differ from one product to another and from one person to another due to differences in each person’s gut microbiota. Taking probiotics is generally safe, and studies have shown that they pose little risk of unwanted effects.
It is recommended that you look for a supplement with 106 and 109 colony forming units (CFUs), the unit of measurement used to indicate the amount of a probiotic’s dosage. However, increasing the number of CFUs does not mean improved outcomes.
Because probiotics are live cultures, the number of CFUs in a given dose may vary from time to time due to the natural decay of the cultures. This is why it’s so challenging for experts to propose an exact amount of probiotics to take and determine whether there is a “too high” level.
When you take a probiotic supplement, good bacteria are introduced to your digestive tract, which can outcompete harmful bacteria and contribute to your overall health. Numerous probiotic bacterial strains may already be present in your gut microbiome.
While your body may be used to these bacteria, taking excessive doses of probiotics can have unintended consequences. Stomach discomfort, gas, nausea, and diarrhea are all possible side effects of taking too many probiotics.
It is common for your gut flora to experience a minor disruption for the first few days of taking a new probiotic. Once the gut flora has adjusted, the symptoms should fade.
Before taking probiotics, people with serious illnesses or immunocompromised should talk to their doctor.
Researchers have yet to determine the optimal probiotic amount or identify the most helpful strains. Due to the uncontrolled supplement market and the short shelf life of probiotic foods, it might take a lot of work to determine the appropriate dosage.
It’s best to consult a medical professional to ensure you’re getting the correct amount of probiotics for your body.