How Long Should You Take Probiotics? Can You Take Them Indefinitely?
By Christopher Walker
Probiotics are good for you; that’s a given. The benefits are numerous and extend beyond gut health. In a previous post, we talked about the possible side effects of taking too many probiotics. Is there also a duration? In other words, how long should you take probiotics? Is this something you need to cycle on and off?
How Long To Take Probiotics? Is Cycling Necessary?
The FDA has not recommended any official guidelines regarding probiotic use. Duration, therefore, is kind of left up to the user. Should you continue to take probiotics if the ailment you’re taking it for subsides? Again, there is no uniform answer.
We will say this, though. Probiotics exist naturally in your gut and throughout your body for that matter. You’re basically introducing more of what already exists in your system.
Let’s put it this way: do you ever stop consuming vitamins and minerals? Do you cycle on and off vitamins the way you do with anabolic steroids or TRT? The answer is a resounding no for most folks. We believe it’s the same with probiotics. In other words, you can consume probiotic-rich foods indefinitely. The same goes for a daily probiotic supplement like Floracil50. You don’t need to cycle a probiotic supplement for the same reason you don’t need to cycle a multi-vitamin tablet.
Will Taking Probiotics Reduce The Body’s Natural Production?
Some people have expressed concerns that if they take probiotics for prolonged periods that it would eventually inhibit their body’s ability to produce probiotics of its own. We understand why some people would get this idea. Think about testosterone as an example. Testosterone replacement therapy, after all, is known to diminish the body’s ability to produce its own testosterone; hence why you need to cycle on and off.
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Is the same true with probiotics? There is no evidence suggesting that such a thing happens when you consume probiotics from food or supplement. Here’s another way of looking at it: the body produces some vitamins naturally, including vitamins D and K. Does this mean you should limit your intake of these vitamins from food? We have never heard of doctors suggesting to anyone to reduce foods naturally rich in these beneficial vitamins.
To be more precise, the human body doesn’t even actually produce probiotics. Gut microflora is formed in your body as a baby. From there, the bacteria self-regulate its population by reproducing and dying. This means there is no chance of probiotic supplements hampering your body’s natural production because it doesn’t create probiotics to begin with.
Should I Take Probiotics Every Day?
Whether through food or supplement, we do believe you should make a conscious effort to get more probiotics into your body every day. Why? According to studies1, probiotics only adhere to the intestines on a short-term basis. This is why probiotics through dietary means help maintain ample levels.
Another factor is that antibiotics kill bad and good bacteria indiscriminately and can negatively impact probiotic colonies. Even if you’re not on any antibiotic medications, you may still be exposed to them indirectly. Non-organic meat, for example, contains antibiotics. Similarly, some drinking water sources contain chlorine, an anti-microbial agent that may also harm your gut flora.
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t be exposed to these chemicals and antibodies, but unless you live in a hut out in the Andes Mountains, you’re probably exposed one way or another. This is why probiotics from external sources matter and why daily use is beneficial.
Daily Probiotic Use Is Advantageous
If you’re still skeptical long-term probiotic use is helpful, then consider this study2 on the effects of probiotics on women’s vaginal health. In the trial, female subjects either consumed the probiotics Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus or consumed a placebo for 14 days. Results indicated that women who consumed the probiotics had higher traces of the two probiotic strains colonizing their vaginal wall. However, seven days after discontinuing the probiotics, the strains were no longer present when swab samples were taken.
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This study further lends credence that long-term and daily probiotic use is not only safe but recommended for sustained health. Probiotics, like any other supplement, isn’t something you can take once or twice and be hunky dory for life.
Probiotics For Seniors
What about if you’re already nearing your twilight years? We believe old age is all the more reason to take a daily probiotic. Like testosterone, which decreases with age, it’s suspected that natural probiotic reproduction also decreases. This explains why chronic low-grade inflammation — a precursor of many diseases — is especially common among seniors, according to studies3.
An article published in Today’s Geriatric Medicine suggests that probiotics, and especially the strain Bifidobacterium, decreases with age due to changes in mucin composition. This causes immune function to decline, allowing for the proliferation of foreign pathogens, thus negatively altering the ratio of good to bad bacteria. For older folks, we recommend taking probiotics every day, whether you’re healthy or experience daily arthritis or other discomforts.
How Long Should You Take Probiotics?
After analyzing the studies, we believe probiotics via food or supplement is a staple of long-term health. We won’t say it’s an absolute must that you take a probiotic supplement indefinitely. However, we believe doing so will be of immense benefit to most people, regardless of age or current health.