Medically reviewed by Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Want to know probiotics FAQ about your daily probiotic supplement? Here are answers to all your burning questions about digestive health supplements, probiotics, and prebiotics!
Thanks to Fortify™ Probiotics for sponsoring this blog post. All opinions are my own, as always!
Curious about the health effects of a daily probiotic? Want to know what the difference is between men’s and women’s probiotics? And about how probiotics can help when you are traveling (when that’s happening again!), or how they can help make trying a new routine more enjoyable?
Lucky for you, I have all the facts about good bacteria and probiotic products. Read on for lots and lots of probiotics FAQs.
Q: How do I know if I need probiotics?
How do you know if you need them? Well, if you’re breathing, you probably do! I recommend probiotics to every single one of my clients. This is because so many aspects of health start in your microbiome—which is the genetic material of the community of bacteria and microbes that live in your body.
Anything like age, stress, and travel can cause a disruption in your digestive balance. Taking a daily probiotic helps support your digestive system with beneficial bacteria—which helps you to support your wellbeing.*
Of course, probiotics aren’t magic! You still need to eat a healthy diet, exercise, and work to manage your stress level.
Q: How do I know if I have normal, healthy bowel function?
A: What if I told you your digestive system is completely normal if you’re having a bowel movement three times a day….or once every three days? Yup, just as we are all different, so are our typical bathroom habits.
That said, there is an ideal “look” to your stool. While your stool may appear hard and lumpy, soft and toothpaste-like, or loose and watery, the best in class is the toothpaste-like variety.
If you’re occasionally feeling constipated—and you likely are if you’re passing hard, lumpy stools—you may benefit from adding additional fiber to your diet. The same goes for if you have loose, watery stools. If your poop is too firm, fiber can help make it softer. And if it’s too watery, fiber can help make it firmer.
If you are adding more fiber to your diet, go slow. When you go from 10 grams to 25 grams in one day, for example, there’s a very good chance that you’ll get some discomfort like bloating, gas, and cramping!
The daily value for fiber is 28 grams, but you may find that you benefit from taking in even more than this amount.
Q: What makes men’s and women’s probiotics different?
A: Just as men’s and women’s multivitamins contain a different make-up and amount of nutrients, so do men’s and women’s probiotics.
The women’s probiotic supplies probiotic strains specifically researched to help support women’s health, including vaginal health.* These strains include Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14®—as well as HOWARU® Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001™.(1)
The men’s probiotic contains the antioxidant selenium, which is a powerful mineral that supports men’s health.* Each serving of the probiotic provides 200 micrograms selenium, or more than three times the daily value.*
Both probiotics contain strains that support digestive balance and immune health.* And here’s even more great news: Fortify Probiotics now contain the doctor-preferred probiotic strain for regularity*††, which means you no longer need to trust just your gut when it comes to choosing a probiotic that’s right for you.
††Based on an IQVIA ProVoice survey of Primary Care Physicians, HOWARU B. lactis HN019 is the Doctor preferred probiotic strain for Regularity as compared to other strains in leading Probiotic brands, 52-week sales MULO, ending 11/3/2019; December 2019.*
Q: Do I need to take probiotics every day?
A: To get the most benefits from probiotics, you should take one daily. Many studies on probiotics show benefits for immune health, digestive health, and beyond when probiotics are taken routinely every day.* Probiotics offer so many human health benefits!
Furthermore, when you make probiotics part of your daily routine, doing so can help maintain the good bacteria in your gut.* Find out how to choose a high-quality probiotic.
Q: What’s the best time of day to take probiotics?
A: Simply put, the best time of day to take a probiotic is when you’ll remember to do so!
Whether you choose morning, afternoon, or evening, it’s important to be consistent with the time of day you choose.
In this way, probiotics are like the vitamins you take with your breakfast or the omega-3 capsules you might take with dinner. You can even put a daily reminder in your smartphone’s calendar, if this will help you remember.
Q: Why do you recommend probiotics for travel?
A: You know those times you’ve eaten dinner at home, boarded a plane to take an overnight flight, then eaten breakfast in a foreign locale? Perhaps your tummy has felt a little off those first few days.
Or perhaps (on some future date!), you’re simply traveling to a new state or new country—and eating new cuisines and foods that don’t exactly sit right with you. This is where probiotics can help provide digestive balance.
I recommend to my clients that if they are not already taking a daily probiotic that they begin doing so about a week before leaving for an international trip. After all, you want to get all you can out of your vacation, and having a daily probiotic habit can help you accomplish that.
Look for a probiotic that offers digestive health support. One bonus of choosing Fortify Probiotics is that most of them don’t require refrigeration. This makes them the perfect travel companion!
Q: Should I take my probiotics with food?
A: This depends on the probiotic. Three types exist: enteric-coated capsules, non-enteric-coated capsules, and delayed-release capsules.
Delayed-release capsules, such as Fortify’s products, are super cool because they are created to provide targeted delivery. This means that each capsule is resistant to the harmful effects of stomach acid and distributes live cultures to the proper areas of the small intestine and colon. This is right where they are needed most.
Plus, these capsules ensure that the probiotics get to the intended parts of the body, with or without food!
Q: How do prebiotics help?
A: Prebiotics are essentially a food source for probiotics. They’re the preferred food source for good bacteria and help good bacteria to colonize your gut. (2)
You can get prebiotics through foods—including bananas, onions, garlic, asparagus, and beans—or dietary supplements.
Another way that prebiotics help your digestive health: They boast fiber.* In a 2-½ teaspoon serving of Fortify Daily Prebiotic Fiber, for instance, you get 3 grams of fiber. You can mix the prebiotic powder into water or any non-carbonated beverage, such as a berry smoothie.
Q: Do I need to refrigerate my probiotics?
A: This answer depends on which probiotic you’re storing and how stable the probiotics are. Fortify Probiotics are designed to be incredibly stable, which means that the potency of the probiotics will be maintained through the expiration date on the bottom of the carton.* You can store the probiotics in a dry place, not in direct sunlight, at or below 73° F.
It’s important to read the instructions of the probiotics you’re storing, as some probiotics require placement in the refrigerator. However, it doesn’t hurt to store probiotics in the fridge. In my house, we keep all our probiotics stored in the refrigerator to help ensure as long a life as possible for them!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
** The probiotic strains contained in this product are manufactured by DuPont. HOWARU® is a registered trademark of DuPont.
(1) Russo R, Edu A, De Seta F. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2018
- (2) Biomed J. 2014 Sep-Oct;37(5):259-68.
I’d love to hear from you! What other questions do you have about how a probiotic supports digestive health, what’s normal when it comes to your intestinal tract, and other wellness advice that you’re seeking?
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