At this point, you probably use, or at least are familiar with, probiotics. The numbers don’t lie: Google searches for the word have sharply and steadily increased as far back as 2004 (the earliest date tracked by Google Trends). Sure, we’ve all dabbled in active-culture yogurts and supplements because we’ve heard how good they are for us, but do we really know what happens to our bodies when we consume probiotics? And how long does it really take to see their benefits? “Millions of people in the US take probiotics,” says Ara Katz, cofounder and co-CEO of probiotic brand Seed. “But few understand what they are, why they take them, or how they work.”
It turns out that probiotics affect nearly every aspect of your body—not just your gut. From your mental well-being to your skin, here are some of the incredible benefits that come from taking a probiotic consistently.
After One Day
To really achieve the benefits of probiotics, consistency is key, but that’s not to say you won’t begin to feel the effects almost immediately. “Generally after 24 hours, you may feel like your digestion gets a kick-start, as you have fed your gut with good bacteria that are working to rebalance your microbiome,” says Jules Miller, founder of The Nue Co.
While most clinical trials study a duration between 12 to 16 weeks, Katz says many people report feeling changes like bloating and bowel movement regularity in as little as 24 hours.
After One Week
Hey, look at you, taking your probiotics for a week. At this point, you’ll be noticing common gut woes like bloating and excess gas are probably less severe. That means the good gut bacteria are hard at work. Prebiotics in the formula are feeding the existing good bacteria in your gut, while the probiotics (the live bacteria) are repopulating and rebalancing your microbiome.
After One Month
You’re a month in, which means you’ve locked yourself into a solid routine. Yes! The probiotic strains in formulas like the one in Seed are interacting with your immune cells, gut cells, dietary nutrients, and existing bacteria. “Not all probiotics are created equal and the benefits of probiotics are determined by the specific strains they include, and what those strains were designed to do,” says Katz. Strains must be listed on the back of each bottle, and that’s important because each strain signals and triggers a specific body function to deliver benefits. Whether the strains are protecting against intestinal permeability (making your gut stronger) or improving immune health, after a month, you’ll begin to notice slight changes.
This verified who’s-who gang of good bacteria can get to work improving your body’s everyday functions, giving The Avengers a run for their blockbuster money in fighting the bad guys. This entourage effect makes your probiotic even stronger. “This is why digestive benefits are often the most immediate and visceral, often in the first few weeks,” says Katz.
After Six Months
“This is when you’ll likely see the most change occur beyond your gut,” says Miller. Think of gut health as general health, because its benefits affect every aspect of your well-being. “They lower obesity risk, support stress response, and aid in better digestion, energy levels, and overall skin concerns,” she says.
Consistent usage of probiotics is so important because your gut is so much more than your stomach. “A huge portion of your immune system lives in your gastrointestinal tract, and your gut also produces over 90 percent of the body’s serotonin—a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, appetite, sleep, memory, and sexual desire,” says Miller.
Beyond serotonin, your GI system is central to the biological processes of your body, including cardiovascular, skin, and a large number of your systemic functions. “Between six months and a year of using probiotics, you may see a change in these processes but also notice immune improvements like fewer episodes of upper-respiratory infection or increased tolerance to airborne antigens,” says Katz.
The full range of benefits are based on the type of probiotic strains. For Seed, it’s specifically formulated to benefit beyond digestive health, with strains proven to benefit heart, skin, immune, and metabolic health.
After a Year
You probably feel vastly different than you did last year. “It’s really important to check in with yourself after you start taking supplements to see how your body changes throughout the process,” says Miller. “It’s easy to forget how often you fell ill or how your digestion was out of whack when you’re feeling better.” If you don’t feel drastically different, look at your day-to-day well-being. “If you’re sleeping better, are not experiencing digestive issues, or haven’t been sick in a while, there’s your answer,” says Miller.
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