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Should I Take Probiotics With or Without Food?

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Should I Take Probiotics With or Without Food?
A bowl of yogurt with granola and fruit toppings. Photo Credit: HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images

Probiotics are living microorganisms found naturally in your digestive system. These microorganisms live primarily in your gut and work synergistically to help your body function properly. Probiotics are also available in some foods and as commercial supplements for digestive health. If you read the label of a probiotic supplement, you may notice conflicting recommendations. Some manufacturers recommend taking probiotics with a meal, while other product labels may instruct you to take them after meals.

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Taking Probiotics

Conflicting recommendations found on commercial probiotic products can cause confusion about when to take your probiotic. Researchers sought to end the confusion by studying the impact of taking probiotics before, with and after meals. They found the bacteria in the supplements survived much better when taken with or 30 minutes before a meal. They also found that dietary fat improved survival of the bacteria. In addition, taking a probiotic with 1 percent milk was more effective than taking it with juice or water. The study was published in the December 2001 edition of the journal "Beneficial Microbes."

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