What Happens When You Stop Taking Probiotics?

Probiotics have been gaining popularity in the recent past which has led to more and more questions from interested parties. There are a good number of individuals who want to know what will happen if you stop taking probiotic supplements. Read on to find out.

What will Happen?

What will happen when you stop taking probiotic supplements will heavily depend on your current health status. Some people take probiotic supplementation as a preventive measure while others take them because their doctor prescribed the supplements as way of fixing an underlying health problem or condition.

For those, probably healthy individuals, who take the supplements for preventative measures, there’s a possibility that not much will happen.

In fact, stopping may help you stay away from known bad effects of probiotic supplements which include;

  • Gas and Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Adverse reactions in some individuals
  • allergy symptoms resulting from high levels of histamine
  • Increase in infection risk
  • Unpleasant Digestive Symptoms

When you stop taking probiotics, you stop adding large quantities if beneficial bacteria to your body. It’s possible you will return to a state of dysbiosis as a result of every day toxin exposures. Unless you have the perfect diet and zero exposure to toxins of any kind, your gut health is always being compromised.

On the other hand, stoppage may lead to missing out the well-documented health benefits of probiotics. However, if you’re generally healthy, supplementation is not necessary. Find out more from your doctor.

The other so-not-obvious result of stopping intake of probiotics is that you will save some bucks. Probiotics are proprietary strains that are formulated in labs by companies with an aim to make profit. The whole process is costly meaning that you will have to pay.

Afterall, some health experts have already informed us that fermented foods give us a far greater variety and complexity of beneficial bacteria than probiotic supplements. 

At same time, it is important to note that the best thing about probiotics is that they bolster your health, and you don’t get to experience the common side effects of drugs – dependence and tolerance.

Tolerance is the gradual need to increase the quantity of a drug you consume in order to get the effect you’re seeking for. Dependence is the reliance on a drug and deterioration of your health when you can’t take it anymore.

Probiotic pills and supplements
Probiotic supplements

Simply put, taking probiotics won’t lead to addiction – you won’t experience any side effects once you stop taking them. However, in certain clinical situations, quitting probiotics is not prudent as you will learn shortly.

When Not to Quit Probiotics

Cases of Diarrhea

Probiotics are typically prescribed to ease symptoms of diarrhea. When you’re experiencing diarrhea symptoms, every bowel movement moves a vast amount of liquid that sweeps your gut’s microbiota. If you don’t replace the lost microbiota by taking probiotics, you may experience much more prolonged diarrhea.

Clostridium Difficile Infections

Clostridium difficile infections are notoriously difficult to treat. A lot of therapeutic approaches for this type of infection incorporate probiotic intake. Probiotics encourage the growth of healthy bacteria which ultimately replace the insidious clostridium difficile. It’s therefore imprudent to quit taking probiotics if your doctor suggests otherwise.

When Taking Antibiotics

Your doctor may couple probiotics with your antibiotic prescription. Probiotics are meant to reduce your risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. In this case, if you stop taking antibiotics, you won’t be protected from this common antibiotics side effect.

Particular Gastrointestinal Diseases

Suppose you have been diagnosed with certain chronic diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, your doctor may recommend that you increase your consumption of probiotic foods or prescribe probiotic supplements. In this case, quitting probiotics will mean that severe symptoms will recur or intensify.

Do You Need to Quit or Reduce Probiotic Consumptions?

In the cases described above, probiotic use is part of your therapy. So you shouldn’t quit before consulting your doctor. Even after you no longer need to take probiotics as part of your treatment, there is a question of, should you stop altogether or drop down your dose?

If you insist on quitting probiotics, your doctor may recommend reducing the dose instead. Discontinuing probiotics won’t have a rebound effect. The doctor’s recommendation is meant to assess how a reduction in dosage will impact your symptoms. If severe symptoms emerge or resume, your doctor may recommend that you revert to your initial probiotics regimen.

Conversely, some Clostridium Difficile patients are asymptomatic. This means they don’t display the usual diarrhea symptoms – their symptoms don’t reflect the state of infection. In this case, you need a thorough clinical evaluation as well as a stool culture before you opt to discontinue probiotic treatment or drop down your dosage.

Find the Ideal Dosage

If you opt to take probiotics, your dosage will be hinged on your health status and the kind of supplement used.

Harvard Health Publishing points out that the typical dose for adults goes from five billion to ten billion colony-forming units daily; you should take one dose each day.

You might experience side effects if you take too much of it; in this case, you should either reduce your dosage or quit altogether. Side effects triggered by too much consumption are however much more common when probiotics are consumed in supplemental form (side effects are rare when you consume probiotic-rich foods instead).

Side effects could go from mild to severe – the most common include gas, bloating, and loose stools. Taking probiotics before your meals may help diminish these symptoms.

When to Quit Taking Probiotics

The side effects of probiotics are typically mild and taper off quickly. However, people with some underlying health conditions may be vulnerable to severe side effects.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine points out that probiotic intake could lead to infections for those with chronic medical issues or lowered immune systems. Besides, consuming too many probiotic supplements can overstimulate your immune system and transfer antibiotic-resistant genes. This means probiotics might lead to you developing antibiotic-resistance in the future.

 If you feel unwell after consuming probiotics, you should immediately stop taking them until you get the right clinical advice. You should also avoid taking probiotics if you have an underlying medical condition or if your immune system is compromised unless a doctor has given you the green light.

Forms of Probiotics (Which One is Ideal?)

Probiotics come in powder forms, capsules, and pills. However, it’s better to take these healthy bacteria through the food you eat. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center points out that probiotic supplements are not well regulated. This means ingredients and quality can vary vastly between products. Another good reason why you should opt for a probiotic-rich diet, instead of supplements, is that food also provides you with additional nutrients are doesn’t expose you to many of the adverse side effects. 

Also, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine notes that some probiotic supplements contain microorganisms that are not listed on their labels. So you can’t be sure about what you’re consuming. 

Yoghurt is a fantastic source of probiotics. It’s commonly recommended for revitalizing digestive health. Check the labels to see whether it contains live or active bacteria cultures and keep off products that are rich in fat and sugar. If you’re vegan, there are a lot of vegetarian probiotic-rich foods like tempeh, kombucha, kimchi, pickles, and sauerkraut.

Fermented probiotic-rich diet is part of almost all traditional cultures on the planet. These foods have been around for as long as we’ve been around. It’s rather recently, with the advent of processed foods and refrigeration that many of the industrialized societies shifted from consuming traditionally fermented foods.

While you can find fermented foods in health food stores, it can be a lot more cost-efficient and rewarding to prepare them at home. Here are two videos on how to make beet kvass and sauerkraut at home.

In a Nutshell

Probiotics don’t lead to dependence or tolerance. So won’t experience any negative consequences if you stopped taking them. But in some clinical situations – like when probiotics have been prescribed to help manage conditions like antibiotic-related diarrhea, Clostridium difficile infections, or certain gastrointestinal diseases – you should consult your doctor before you stop taking probiotics.

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