Probiotics Side Effects: What You Need To Know?

probiotics side effects

If you have ever come across the phrase “you are what you eat,” you can understand how important it is to ensure that what you put into your digestive system is healthy and beneficial.

There are many different ways that people aim to do this, be it by reducing their intake of certain foods or increasing their intake of things like probiotic supplements.

The world of probiotic supplements have seen a massive increase in usage since people have begun to care more about their gut health.

What Are The Possible Probiotics Side Effects

What Are Probiotics?

The digestive tract consists of good bacteria. These healthy bacteria are naturally found in our body’s digestive tract.

They ensure that our immune system works at its maximum effectiveness and that the intestinal tract is protected from bad bacteria and other serious infections.

Probiotics are live bacteria that work synergistically with the already present gut flora in our body.

Probiotic bacteria can be found in fermented foods, or you can consume naturally live probiotic supplements.

Probiotics enhance the gut microbiota; this keeps your gut microbiome healthy and boosts the immune system’s overall effect on the body, not just the digestive tract.

Probiotic Foods

Taking probiotics is easier than it sounds; At the same time, you can opt for probiotic supplements; there are many probiotic foods that you can consume that release probiotic microorganisms into the digestive system.

These foods make adding probiotics to your diet easier and more accessible for those that cannot afford to be taking probiotic supplements.

Fermented foods are among the probiotic-rich foods you can use to increase your probiotic use.

These probiotic-rich foods contain various probiotic strains that boost your probiotic bacteria levels substantially.

Instead of taking probiotics as probiotic supplements, you can simply alter your daily diet.

Sometimes you may find that you are already taking probiotics and simply need to increase the quantity of these foods.

These foods include kimchi, yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.

This means you may already be consuming probiotics and simply need to increase your intake rather than using probiotic supplements.

What Happens to Your Body When You Start Taking Probiotic Supplements?

Before we can discuss the harmful aspects of probiotics, it is important to understand that there are genuine benefits to taking probiotics and that not everyone will face negative side effects of probiotics.

To do this, you need to understand the way probiotics act on the digestive tract and why people may opt to take probiotic supplements.

The number one benefit of a probiotic supplement besides the increase in the number of probiotic strains in the body is your gut health.

According to clinical gastroenterology, the immune system in our gut works in tandem with our gut microbiome, and any imbalance may affect our entire body’s immune systems, making you more prone to serious illnesses.

By taking these supplements or increasing the intake of foods containing probiotics, you are increasing the number of bacteria in your gut that benefit your body.

You are also reinforcing the bacteria already present; this boosts the immunity in your gastrointestinal tract.

Other benefits of probiotics are their ability to improve your mental health.

There is a positive link between a healthy gastrointestinal tract and your mind.

If your digestive health is running well, you reduce the chances of mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Another benefit of probiotics, whether in supplement or food form, is their power to decrease the chances of chronic illnesses.

They are not just protective molecules for your stomach; they are also effective in protecting your entire body from falling ill.

These benefits are why people choose to use probiotics in their diet.

Who Should Not Take Probiotics?

When discussing the side effects of probiotics, it is important to remember that most people will never experience anything other than the health benefits of a probiotic supplement.

Certain people are more prone to the side effects of probiotics; these people are usually those with compromised immune systems or chronic illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease (which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) and irritable bowel syndrome.

People with food sensitivities, lactose intolerance, or other health conditions that lead to compromised immune systems should consult their doctor or nutritionist before starting a probiotic supplement.

While all supplements promise numerous health benefits, they can still cause side effects that can prove counterproductive,

Probiotics And Their Side Effects

As we know well, there is nothing that is without its flaws.

Even if we are eating foods that are known to be healthy, we are told to take them in moderation as even they can cause you harm.

The same rules apply to probiotics.

While countless randomized controlled trials boast the benefits of probiotics, they are not free of side effects.

The good thing about probiotics is that very few people will experience these side effects.

Most of the population that take or are considering including probiotics in their diet will never experience any side effects.

However, these side effects exist, and you must be aware of these side effects before you choose to add probiotics to your diet.

The people that are more prone to side effects already have underlying conditions.

These can range from minor issues like lactose intolerance to larger chronic diseases that are lifelong problems.

These people need to be aware of what they are adding to their diet.

Anyone who feels that they already have a weak immune mechanism or are dealing with any chronic illness should talk to their physician before using any of these supplements.

Elevation of Histamine Levels in The Body

Histamine is a preformed molecule part of your body’s natural defense system.

Histamine is one of the very first substances that the body releases when it feels like it is under attack. The body commonly releases it during an allergic reaction.

The levels of this substance are carefully controlled by the body to prevent unnecessary reactions.

Understanding how histamine works are key to understanding why an increase in its levels is a good thing is not.

As we know, histamine is part of the body’s defense mechanism, one of the very first substances the body releases to protect itself.

Histamine is a potent vasodilator. It causes the blood vessels in the body to increase their width.

This has a dual effect; it increases blood flow as their less resistance in the body, but it also makes it easier for white blood cells and other protective cells to pass through the blood vessels to areas that require protection from pathogens.

These reactions also cause swelling and redness in the areas where histamine is released.

Very high levels of histamine can lead to respiratory difficulty, watery eyes, itching, and a runny nose.

Certain probiotics can cause histamine to be released into the gastrointestinal tract.

In most people, the GIT is an excellent inhibitor of increasing histamine as it uses enzymatic actions of the enzyme diamine oxidase to break down histamine, making it useless.

Some people may lack this enzyme leading to an increase in histamine levels.

The histamine then acts as it would during an attack from a pathogen and causes swelling and redness in the body.

Excessive levels can prove troublesome and may even make breathing hard due to swelling of the throat.

Unwanted Digestive Symptoms

Some people may experience unpleasant digestive issues along with the health benefits of probiotics.

Usually, these symptoms do not last more than a few weeks among the few people that do experience them, which means that if you can handle a few weeks of mild abdominal pain, acid reflux, gas, and bloating, then you have nothing to worry about

While different strains of bacteria will lead to different forms of abdominal issues, the most prominent side effect is gas and bloating.

Probiotics with digestive side effects usually do not go beyond gas and bloating.

People taking probiotics that contain yeast which is more susceptible to side effects can deal with issues like increased levels of thirst throughout the day and constipation.

Other people may experience mild forms of acid reflux from probiotic usage.

The best way to reduce the chances of side effects arising even among those more prone to such problems is to titer your doses.

It is easy to think that when you begin a new supplement, you should start with the maximum dosage to get the maximum benefit.

However, this is not how it works; it increases the chances of adverse reactions.

This is why it is best, to begin with, smaller doses and gradually increase your intake.

This gives your body ample time to adjust to a new substance being added to its system.

Allergic Reactions

One of the more common side effects accompanying supplement usage is an allergic reaction to any substance in the supplement that a person may be allergic to.

The more common allergens are found in dairy, gluten, and nuts.

It is therefore important to ensure that your supplement does not contain any of these allergens in the form of additives to boost your health.

Most people with allergies are very careful about any new substance they are adding to their diet, especially those with severe life-threatening allergies.

However, anyone can mistake and miss an ingredient that could cause an allergy. Another reason ingredients can cause an allergy is a substance used to make capsule supplements.

Central Nervous System

One side effect one would not expect with these supplements is their effect on the central nervous system.

Some people have experienced headaches from including probiotics in their diet.

Foods with probiotic capabilities like yogurt and kimchi contain natural substances known as amines.

These amines are usually found in the form of phenylethylamine, histamine, tryptamine, and tyramine.

Amines have a profound effect on the brain and spinal cord. They have numerous effects, from their ability to enhance or reduce blood flow to their ability to alter your behavior.

The ability of amines to alter blood flow in the body can cause headaches.

Alterations in blood flow are one of the main causes of headaches, as the brain has limited ability to compensate for changes in blood pressure and flow.

The combination of amines and histamines in probiotics can lead to headaches.

It is important to keep track of when these headaches arise to ensure that they are due to the use of probiotics, as there are various causes of headaches.

How To Minimize Side Effects

There are a few ways to reduce the chances of any of these side effects occurring.

The main way to reduce side effects is to discuss the usage of these supplements with your physician, and they can recommend the best brand and the correct dosage for your needs.

Another important and easy way to reduce side effects is ensuring that you have a healthy diet and cut down on artificial foods, sugars, alcohol, and caffeine; this minimizes the chances of any digestive issues arising when you begin a prebiotic supplement.


Probiotics have numerous health benefits and are fast becoming a must-have in health and nutrition.

However, like all things, they are not free of side effects.

While the chances of these side effects occurring are small, they are still possible; there are, of course, steps you can take to minimize these side effects.

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