5 Reasons Why Your Probiotic Isn’t Working

5 Reasons Why Your Probiotic Isn’t Working

  • Probiotics 101

  • By Jef L’Ecuyer, Registered Dietitian

    It is the worst feeling – spending money on something you have high hopes for, only to have those hopes dashed when the product doesn’t live up to expectations. 

    When it comes to probiotic supplementation, this can happen quite often. 

    There are a lot of probiotics on the market that vary widely in everything from price to formulation to promises.

    It should come as no surprise – we believe pretty strongly in the power of probiotics – not only because we’ve heard from thousands of customers about the positive impact taking probiotic supplementation (like Bio-K+) has had in improving their health, but we’ve seen the science supporting Bio-K+ first hand.

    If you’ve been burned before and bought a probiotic that doesn’t work, there may be some reasons for that. Here's what might be wrong and what to look for instead.


    The Bacteria Strains Aren’t Identified

    Our digestive tract is home to billions of bacteria – some good, some bad, and some just there for the sake of being there (your intestines make a pretty great home for bacteria).

    At this point, you may be asking yourself, “what are probiotics?” To be a considered a ‘probiotic’ you can’t just be any old strain of bacteria, you have to be an approved strain that is known to confer a health benefit (World Health Organization).

    The most common bacteria’s genera used in probiotic products are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, although you may also find names like Enterococcus, Streptococcus, and Escherichia. These names refer to the family of bacteria (the genus). Think of it as your last name – there are many members of your family with the same last name, and although you may all be related, you all act very differently.

    That’s where species and probiotic strain come in – it gives us the specifics on who we’re talking about.

    Other than knowing the best time to take probiotics, choosing a probiotic product that works means finding a probiotic that has research supporting the specific person, not just the ‘last name.’ 

    Many companies use ‘borrowed’ science on the probiotic strain, but don’t do any research on the finished product, so they can’t be clear on how all the strains work together. If you aren’t sure whether or not a company has the science to support their finished product, just ask them. If a company has invested in the research, they will proudly let you know.  


    The Probiotics Aren’t Living

    For a probiotic to work, the beneficial bacteria have to be alive and active. Probiotics, however, are living organisms, and like all living organisms, are sensitive to their environment: improper conditions can damage or even kill them.

    How can you know if a product contains ‘live’ cultures instead of having dead strains?

    You need to put your trust in the brand. Look for a reputable brand that uses rigorous controls and measures to guarantee the potency of the product right up to the expiry date, not the manufacture date as many brands do. Also, be sure to check if the strains in your probiotic formulas can survive temperature changes, especially if you're bringing them with your while you are on the road. 


    The Probiotics Aren’t Surviving the Journey

    Freeze-dried good bacteria are another thing to look out for. Freeze-drying live bacteria is a way that you can put the probiotics into a capsule or tablet form.

    The problem here isn’t the freeze-drying, per se, it’s that this type of processing makes the bacteria much more sensitive. This leaves them more susceptible to dying during their passage through the harsh, acidic environment of our digestive tract and stomachs.

    To avoid this, ensure your probiotic capsules features a targeted release, enteric coating. This type of technology helps to ensure that the healthy bacteria inside the capsule are protected and can reach your intestines unharmed, where they can safely release their health benefit.


    You’re Not Taking the Correct Dosage for Your Concern 

    To get the effects of your probiotic and help improve gastrointestinal health, you have to take the dosage of probiotics that is effective for your concern. Consistency is also critical, so ensure you get into a habit and take your probiotic rich foods and supplement every day.

    Start by being clear on why you are taking a probiotic. If you are taking a probiotic for general health, for example, the dosage you need may be very different than if you are trying to prevent Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea and IBS symptoms.

    It is also important to read labels. Some brands may claim a high number of bacteria (CFU count), but to get that dosage you may have to take multiple doses throughout the day.

    If you are on antibiotics, you want to ensure you are taking your probiotic supplement at least 2-3 hours away from your medication.

    If you choose Bio-K+ as your probiotic supplement, here are some guidelines to help you determine the correct dosage you need:

    Daily care capsules or ¼ bottle of the drinkable probiotics: A great daily option for people new to probiotics or that tend to experience constipation more easily.

    Daily Care + or ½ bottle of a drinkable probiotics: A great option for those who need daily support or a stronger alternative for more benefits.

    Extra care capsules or a whole bottle of the drinkable probiotics: A great option for those who need extra support daily

    For those travelling: take one of our extra care capsules, three to five days prior to your trip. Continue this dosage throughout your trip and for up to five days after you return home. For added protection, you can increase the dosage during your travels to two capsules per day.

    For those on antibiotics: to support and rebalance your gut health while on antibiotics as well as reduce the risk of potential antibiotic associated diarrhea, we recommend taking one to two of our Antibio pro capsules for the duration of your treatment, and for five days following. If you are taking probiotics for this reason, be sure to take your dosage at least 2-3 hours prior (or after) taking your antibiotic.

    For Irritable Bowel Syndrome with diarrhea predominance: we recommend taking two capsules per day of our IBS Pro product to help you improve your quality of life.


    Your Probiotic Contains an Allergen You Are Sensitive Too

    Digestive issues and food sensitivities often go hand and hand. If your probiotic contains something you are sensitive too, it may be doing you more harm than good.

    If you are sensitive to gluten or suffer from celiac disease, make sure you are taking a product that is certified gluten-free. If it is not certified gluten-free, it may contain trace amounts of gluten which can exacerbate your digestive issues.

    If you are lactose intolerant or allergic to soy, there are some great vegan probiotic options that still provide all the benefits of a quality probiotic but in a format that works for you!

    Probiotics are one of the most useful tools to help improve health and well-being. If you have found that taking a probiotic hasn’t worked for you in the past, we encourage to think about the quality, strains, and science supporting the product.


    If you have any questions on probiotics and the role they have in your health, let us know in comments below! For more healthy inspirations, join our community. Click here to find the closest point of sale. Contact us or find us on Facebook and Instagram.

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    Drinkable Vegan Probiotic

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    Jef L’Ecuyer Registered Dietitian
    About the author
    After her nutrition training at McGill University, Jef specialized in gastrointestinal health with a special interest in the microbiota and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. With Bio-K+, she continues on this path by making the world of probiotics more accessible to all.
    View all articles by Jef L’Ecuyer
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