Here at Probulin, we’re big fans of probiotics. That’s because we’re deep into the science behind our formulas and know the far-reaching benefits of supporting a balanced microbiome, which is one of the primary jobs of probiotics.
If you’re like most people in our Probulin family, you like to do your research, too. You’re a savvy consumer who is proactive about your health and you ask good questions about adding supplements (probiotics or any other kind) to your wellness routine. We love this because knowledge is power and the more you have, the better it is for living your best life.
One important question that comes up frequently for both new and experienced probiotic customers is, “What happens if I stop taking probiotics?”. You might think we wouldn’t like this question, but we do! That’s because the answer helps shine a light on how probiotic bacteria bring about their many benefits and also address questions about long-term probiotic use.
Let’s get to that answer by first revisiting what probiotics are, where they work for you, and why people start taking them in the first place.
The What, Where, and Why Behind Probiotics
Probiotics have gotten a lot of press lately, but there’s still plenty of confusion about what they are, exactly. So, here’s a quick take…
Probiotics are mostly bacteria, but can also be certain types of yeast, and they exist in the human body with other not-so-beneficial microbes in environments called microbiomes. These microbiomes form in multiple places, including the mouth, skin, and for females—the vagina. But, they’re most highly concentrated in the gut. This helps explain why probiotics are best known for supporting digestive health. They do, indeed, help your body breakdown certain foods and in this way may help ease uncomfortable digestive issues like gas and bloating, as well as support bowel regularity. That’s all great news, but probiotics do so much more.
Another great skill that probiotics bring to the table is helping to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal lining. This gut barrier acts as a gatekeeper giving the red light or green light to nutrients and other things trying to make their way into your bloodstream. In doing this part of their job, probiotics are closely linked to your immune system. In fact, researchers estimate that a whopping 70% of your immune system lies within your gut!
Although probiotics get the biggest accolades for supporting healthy digestive and immune health, they also have a hand in synthesizing vitamins, enzymes, and fatty acids. And by doing so, these multifunctional microbes have a big effect on many systems throughout your body.
But in order to get all of these important tasks done, probiotics must first do job #1—support a healthy, balanced microbiome.
Microbiome Balance—How to Get There
Remember we mentioned that your body’s microbiomes include both good and bad microbes? Well, they don’t exist together peacefully. In fact, they’re in constant battle for dominance and control. And while probiotics are big players on this battlefield, a lot of other factors also come into play.
For starters, genetic makeup influences your microbiome, so it’s as unique to you as your set of fingerprints. Then add in everyday aspects of life, like diet, exercise, sleep, medications, exposure to environmental, physical and emotional stressors, and more. These factors all continually shift the contours of your microbiome.
Bottom line? Top notch support for a balanced microbiome is like any other healthy lifestyle choice. It requires a regular, ongoing commitment. Happily, many of the things you already know about and are probably doing to improve your long-term wellness are the very same things that support a healthy, balanced microbiome. Some impactful examples are:
- Eat a wholesome diet, rich in antioxidants and fiber
- Add fermented foods to your menu, including yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut
- Reduce consumption of sugar, additives, and alcohol
- Stop smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Get plenty of restorative sleep
- Practice stress reduction techniques, like meditation, prayer, and yoga
- Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics
And adding quality probiotic supplements to the mix is another powerful way to support a healthy microbiome. (Learn more about what to look for when choosing a probiotic formula.)
Why Start Taking a Probiotic Supplement?
Probiotics bring many health benefits to the table, so the reasons people start taking a probiotic supplement are varied. But the most popular seem to be:
- Relief from occasional gas and bloating
- May improve the digestion of certain foods
- Supporting bowel regularity
- Supporting immune system function
- Enhancing overall health
In addition, certain probiotic formulas include bacteria strains and other ingredients with unique strengths in targeted health areas, like our Total Care Women’s UT Probiotic, which supports the female urinary system and Colon Support Probiotic, which features a highly concentrated blend of beneficial bifidobacteria for focused colon support. (As with other supplements, its best to consult your primary healthcare provider before adding anything to your daily regimen.)
But, regardless of the reason for starting with a probiotic supplement, the main way it will deliver the goods is by replenishing your microbiome with friendly bacteria. Regularly reinforcing your body’s own natural supply of probiotics will help boost their strength and numbers in the daily battle being waged within your microbiome.
Back to the Question About Stopping Probiotics
Although there are many compelling reasons to stick with a daily probiotic supplement routine, you may still be wondering about the necessity of continuing with them long term. After all, when probiotics are doing their job and helping you feel good, it’s easy to think you don’t need that extra boost anymore.
But keep in mind that—similar to healthy eating and regular exercise—sticking to the plan is what may bring about the best benefits. (BTW, we have a free Autoship service that makes staying committed to your probiotics super easy and saves you money, too!) A good health routine helps to keep your body and mind moving forward in a positive direction. If you want a reminder of what the opposite looks like, say to yourself “yo-yo dieting” or “New Year’s Resolution Exercise Plan.” They both predictably come and go, just like their results.
If you do decide to stop taking probiotics, and all other factors supporting your gut microbiome stay the same. Case in point…plenty of customer feedback tells us it’s common for issues that prompted people to start taking probiotics to crop up again. But remember, your microbiome is completely unique, so what happens in your case will be unique, too.
Also keep in mind that the health of your microbiome depends on MANY factors. Focusing on the big picture and staying committed to all the pieces that support microbiome balance is your best bet for feeling great.