So, you may have heard or read a lot about probiotics and probiotic-rich foods, and might now be considering taking probiotic supplements because they’re supposed to be so good for the immune system and carry many health benefits.
But you may also have heard a few things that cast a negative light on probiotics – such as consuming a probiotic product may cause gas and even bloating.
In that case, are probiotics really that beneficial?
Probiotics are generally understood as live helpful bacteria and/or yeast that are present in certain natural food sources and in several fermented foods.
Some probiotic-rich foods are kefir, kimchi, cheese, fermented tea, yogurt, and aged milk.
These contain probiotic bacteria that, when ingested, help in combatting any bad bacteria that may be part of your gut microbiota, better understood as the combination of microorganisms living in your digestive system.
Our gut microbiome contains a variety of gut bacteria, a combination of good bacteria and bad bacteria, and it is the role of the healthy bacteria present in probiotics to strike a healthy balance for optimum gut health.
What happens when we start taking a probiotic product is that all of a sudden, there is an inflow of new bacteria into the gut biome, which causes an imbalance in the kinds of bacteria already existing therein.
For some people, this can create some digestive problems and may cause gas and bloating, but do keep in mind that these are almost always temporary side effects that probiotics cause.
That said, utmost caution must be practiced when giving probiotics to persons with suppressed immune systems or with a compromised immune system, for such individuals might experience worse side effects than simply acid reflux or excess gas.
Remedies for gas caused by probiotics
When you start adding probiotics to your diet, be it in the form of probiotic supplements, probiotic-rich foods, or fermented drinks, your body will take some time to adjust to the change in the gut microbiome.
Typically, this may take a few weeks to occur, until your digestive system adjusts and the balanced microbiome is regained.
Until then, the probiotic strain in whatever form of probiotics you are taking may continue to cause gas.
However, if the digestive symptoms like gas and bloating, acid reflux, or constipation, which might cause increased thirst, continue to present past a few weeks, do consult your healthcare provider for treatment.
In the meantime, if the gas caused by consuming probiotics is bothering you too much, you can always try a few simple fixes to remedy the situation.
One solution is to decrease your dosage of whatever probiotics you are taking.
If you wish to prevent the problem before it begins, start off with a low dose right from the beginning to let the probiotics work slowly and steadily into your gut biome.
The slow intake will help your body and central nervous system acclimatize gradually and easily to the probiotics being ingested.
Another useful way to get your body used to probiotics is to consume prebiotics before you start taking a probiotic product.
Prebiotics, found in foods such as garlic, banana, onions, almonds, and more are high in fiber and provide support for the growth and nourishment of good microbes.
Having these foods before starting probiotics will create a healthy environment for the sustenance of live and active cultures of probiotic strains in your gut microbiome.
Further, prebiotics also forms part of a well-balanced diet, so consuming these before probiotics also has many health benefits.
Other side effects of probiotics
While probiotics cause gas often in the early days of ingestion, this symptom is often observed to die down within a few weeks and the probiotic starts working its magic.
The health benefits of probiotics are many, they support gut health, help regulate blood flow, boost the production and health of immune cells, and in scientific research, have been shown to combat such illnesses as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in adults.
However, taking probiotic supplements carries its own list of other possible side effects, apart from excess gas and bloating.
One of the side effects of yeast-based probiotics is that they can trigger headaches.
This is because such probiotics often contain biogenic amines, the excess intake of which has been directly linked to migraines and sometimes other kinds of severe headaches, in research.
Certain bacteria present in probiotics may also trigger your histamine levels, particularly if your system is susceptible, and can cause allergic reactions such as incessant sneezing, coughing, tiredness, etc.
To conclude, it is agreed that probiotic foods, supplements, drinks, etc are indeed beneficial to keep the body healthy, but a major side effect is that probiotics cause gas by creating an imbalance in the gut bacteria present in the large intestines and overall gut biome, initially.
Since it is not generally a cause for concern, you may wait for the symptoms to subside in a few weeks or try the solutions we listed above.
It is in the nature of probiotics to cause gas when you’ve just started taking them. However, if you are feeling particularly gassy after taking a probiotic, you may lower your current dosage and see if that helps. Take your probiotics with a well-balanced diet for best results.
Can probiotics make gas worse?
Yes, but fear not, it is only a temporary side-effect. While taking probiotics can often cause gas and bloating initially, your digestive system will soon get used to the new good bacteria introduced, and will settle down. Over time, consuming a probiotic regularly will actually help lessen occurrences of gas in your body and help you feel better.
How do you get rid of gas from probiotics?
Gas occurring due to probiotic intake should subside within a few weeks, but in the interim, you may try a few simple solutions such as lowering the probiotic dosage and consuming food rich in prebiotics to balance out the probiotics, and should always consume the probiotic in slow, controlled dosage.
How do you know if probiotics are working?
Depending on the health reason you chose to start taking probiotics, you can tell over a few weeks if it is working or not. For example, if you experienced chronic constipation, IBS, dysentery, diarrhea, or other digestive issues, a probiotic will help curb those by soothing your gut, and you should be able to see the difference in a handful of months, if not weeks.
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