Can you take too many probiotics?
This is an important question that everybody should think about before using any probiotics. All of the best probiotics today all seem to be vying with each other for most potent product, with each supplement providing more colony-forming units (CFUs) than the last.
There is also the problem posed by the sheer number of probiotic supplements, probiotic drinks, and fermented foods currently on sale. Every supermarket is full of probiotic-infused products these days; health drinks, protein shakes, yogurts, fruit bars, and of course, probiotic supplements themselves.
All of this makes it a real possibility that you’ll start consuming too many probiotics.
But how much is too much when it comes to probiotics?
Is there such a thing as too much probiotics?
What are the side effects of consuming too many probiotics?
Let’s discuss how probiotics work and try to answer this question in a little more detail.
How do probiotics work?
Probiotics work by introducing new strains of bacteria to the gut; bacteria strains known to help bring about healthy changes in the gut microbiome. “Probiotics” is actually just a word we give to gut-friendly bacteria.
Different probiotics work in slightly different ways.
Some probiotics are designed specifically for weight loss. For example, Bio X4 is sold explicitly as a weight loss probiotic. These supplements will generally contain probiotic strains known to be effective for weight loss, along with other ingredients designed to suppress appetite, accelerate fat metabolism, etc.
Other probiotics are designed specifically for men’s health. These probiotics for men will generally contain a variety of probiotic cultures and a handful of other ingredients known to support male health, vitality, and testosterone levels.
But what all probiotics have in common is that they bring about positive changes in gut bacteria. They do this by using a range of bacteria strains which are either identical to the strains found in your gut (thus replenishing them) or which are known to fight off harmful bacteria that might be causing you digestive issues.
Obviously, this means that probiotics are not without risks.
Since you are introducing foreign bacteria strains to the gut in varying quantities, it is possible for you to inadvertedly cause an imbalance in your gut microflora; that is, to actually create severe imbalances between gut bacteria strains.
How many probiotics can you take per day?
As probiotics are exogenous gut bacteria, consuming large amount of them or consuming them every day for too long can cause problems.
So how many probiotics should you take each day?
Th strength of probiotic supplements is measured in CFUs, or colony-forming units. This refers to the number of different bacteria in the supplement capable of forming a colony in the gut.
As you can imagine, the average number of CFUs across different probiotics is both very variable and extremely high. Anywhere fro 1 billion CFUs per dose to 20 billion CFUs per dose is common.
As a general rule of thumb, it is safer to take a probiotic with a lower CFU count on a daily basis from a side effect point of view. The higher the CFUs, the more ptoentially upsetting the probiotic is to your gut if you take it on a daily basis, as your microbiome can become overwhelmed by the foreign bacteria species.
But realistically, the CFU count matters less than the sheer number of different bacteria species you’re pouring into your gut on a daily basis.
We recommend using a single probiotic product at time. That means avoiding fermented foods and probiotic drinks if using a probiotic supplement, and vice versa. Try not to consume too many different probiotic foods each day if you are not using a probiotic supplement; more is not better!
More importantly, we recommend using a probiotic for no longer than 30 days. Probiotics are designed to provide a fix for gut microbiome imbalances; if you need to use a probiotic supplement every day, thereis an underlying issue you are not addressing.
This is also why we recommend using a prebiotic supplement, as these selectively feed your healty gut bacteria. This is a far bettr solution for long-term gut health than constantly bombarding your gut with billions of CFUs of strange bacteria.
Typical daily probiotic consumption tends to be in the range of 1 to 10 Billion CFUs. How long you can take probiotics consistently for depends on the strains used and the CFUs. A probiotic with 20 billion CFUs should not be taken daily for long periods of time. Before you begin taking a probiotic supplement, discuss your options with your doctor.
What happens if you take too many probiotics?
What are the risks of taking too many probiotics?
While many people see probiotics as safe, natural, healthy supplements, you can indeed take too many probiotics. Taking too many probiotics will invariably cause side effects, including:
- Stomach cramps
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep disruption
- Lower energy levels
- Disrupted immune function
Tio avoid these side effects it is best to take probiotics for a limited time and use them in moderation.
In summary: Can you take too many probiotics?
Taking too many probiotics can lead to bloating, gas, and nausea. People at greater risk of dangerous side effects are those with a weakened immune system or serious illness. If this applies to you, you should consult a doctor before taking large amounts of probiotics. Too many probiotics can be harmful.