Probiotics are living microorganisms (bacteria and yeasts) which are beneficial to health. They are found in yogurt, in fermented drinks such as kefir and kombucha, and of course, in probiotic supplements. These supplements are primarily formulated to rebalance the body’s microbiota which can be disrupted by factors such as antibiotics, poor diet and illness. They are thus extremely popular for reducing troublesome digestive symptoms like bloating, constipation, gas and stomach-ache.
However, the scientific community very quickly realised that probiotics’ effects on the body were much more extensive. They release substances which inhibit the development of pathogens, stimulate the immune system, interact with the nervous system in the gut, and combat chronic inflammation.
The recommended duration of probiotic treatment depends on the health problem being addressed..
According to clinical studies that have investigated digestive problems (1-3), between one and three months’ treatment is required to produce improvements in digestion. Here, the probiotics are normally taken with water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, 15-20 minutes before breakfast.
The probiotic recommended: Probio Forte (5 different probiotic species)
Clinical studies suggest that a period of four weeks is sufficient (4-5) and that the probiotics should normally be taken 30 minutes after breakfast or another meal.
The probiotic recommended : Bifidobacterium longum (strain BB536)
Studies show it’s best to start taking probiotics as soon as you begin antibiotic treatment or chemotherapy (6-9). The probiotics should be ingested at least two hours after the antibiotics, and supplementation should continue for an average of one to two weeks after antibiotic treatment has finished. These benefits are among the most widely scientifically-documented effects, producing significant reductions in the risk of diarrhoea and digestive problems.
The probiotic recommended: Lactobacillus rhamnosus (strain CNCM I-2745)
A three-week course of treatment is recommended if you are travelling within the same geographical region. If you’re moving between different regions, treatment should be extended.
The probiotic recommended: Saccharomyces boulardii
You have two options here (10-12): you can either take probiotics from autumn through to the end of winter (for six months from November to May) or you can start taking them for a period of two weeks as soon as someone in your household goes down with a winter ailment.
Several preliminary studies (13-15) have shown that certain probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus gasseri can help reduce visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat. Here, treatment generally lasts for three months, accompanied by a low-calorie diet. Supplements should be taken 30 minutes before a meal.
The probiotic recommended: Lactobacillus gasseri
Recent studies show that some probiotic strains help reduce mood problems, depression, anxiety and levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) as a result of their ability to both decrease intestinal inflammation and communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve (16-18). The recommended length of treatment is between four and six weeks and the probiotics should ideally be taken with breakfast.
The probiotic recommended: Lactoxira (eight psychobiotic strains)
Certain Lactobacillus probiotics help reduce inflammation in the various skin layers. They strengthen the intestinal barrier, modulate the immune system and increase production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Two to three months is generally the right duration.
The probiotic recommended: Derma Relief (4 strains + vitamins B2, E and C + fructo-oligosaccharides)
Strains such as Lactobacillus reuteri are recommended for cardiovascular health because of their ability to reduce levels of LDL-cholesterol in the blood (19-20). For optimal results, a course of at least two months is recommended, though some researchers have found benefits from treatment lasting as much as 12 months. The supplements should ideally be taken with breakfast and dinner.
The probiotic recommended : Lactobacillus reuteri
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