Proper timing of probiotic supplements may improve their survival.
Though foods may be better carriers for probiotics than supplements, if one does choose to go with supplements, should they be taken before, during, or after meals? When it comes to probiotic supplements sold in capsules the commercial literature is often confusing in that sometimes the consumer is instructed to take the probiotics with meals, sometimes before or after meals, and occasionally on an empty stomach. This has led to serious confusion for the industry and the consumer. Surprisingly it doesn't appear as if any studies had ever examined this question, until now.
To be able to measure probiotic concentrations, minute by minute throughout the process, they had to build a fake digestive tract, a fake stomach and intestines, but complete with real saliva and digestive enzymes, acid, bile, etc. What did they find? Here's the survival of three different types of probiotics before, during, and after meals, and separately in oatmeal and milk, milk alone, apple juice, juice, or water.
Conclusion: probiotic bacterial survival was best when provided within 30 minutes before or simultaneously with a meal or beverage that contained some fat content.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Ariel Levitsky.
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What dose should we take and under what circumstances? See the first video in this series, Preventing and Treating Diarrhea with Probiotics. Then I compared probiotics to prebiotics in Preventing the Common Cold with Probiotics?, and Friday I'll end on Gut Feelings: Probiotics and Mental Health.
I was surprised to find so few actual data on this topic, but that is par for the course for much advice about dietary supplements. See, for example, this series:
Vitamin D supplements should also probably be taken with meals for maximum efficacy (Take Vitamin D Supplements With Meals).
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