5 Reasons Why Your Probiotic Isn't Working

5 Reasons Why Your Probiotic Isn't Working

  • Probiotics 101

  • By Jef L’Ecuyer, Registered Dietitian

    It is the worst feeling – spending money on something you have high hopes for, only to have those hopes dashed when the product doesn’t live up to expectations. 

    When it comes to probiotics, this can happen quite often. 

    There are a lot of probiotics on the market that vary widely in everything from price to formulation to promises.

    It should come as no surprise – we believe pretty strongly in the power of probiotics – not only because we’ve heard from thousands of customers about the positive impact taking a probiotic (like Bio-K+) has had in improving their health, but we’ve seen the science supporting Bio-K+ first hand.

    If you’ve been burned before and bought a probiotic that doesn’t work, there may be some reasons for that. Here's what might be wrong and what to look for instead.


    The Bacteria Strains Aren’t Identified

    Our intestinal tract is home to millions of bacteria – some good, some bad, and some just there for the sake of being there (your intestines make a pretty great home for bacteria).

    To be a considered a ‘probiotic’ you can’t just be any old strain of bacteria, you have to be an approved strain that is known to confer a health benefit (World Health Organization).

    The most common bacteria’s genera used in probiotic products are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, although you may also find names like EnterococcusStreptococcus, and Escherichia. These names refer to the family of bacteria (the genus). Think of it as your last name – there are many members of your family with the same last name, and although you may all be related, you all act very differently.

    That’s where species and strain come in – it gives us the specifics on who we’re talking about.

    Choosing a probiotic that works means finding a probiotic that has research supporting the specific person, not just the ‘last name.’ 

    Many companies use ‘borrowed’ science on the strains, but don’t do any research on the finished product, so they can’t be clear on how all the strains work together. If you aren’t sure whether or not a company has the science to support their finished product, just ask them. If a company has invested in the research, they will proudly let you know.  


    The Probiotics Aren’t Living

    For a probiotic to work, the bacteria have to be alive and active. Probiotics, however, are living organisms, and like all living organisms, are sensitive to the elements; if they aren’t treated properly, they can be damaged or killed.

    How can you know if a product contains ‘live’ cultures?

    You need to put your trust in the brand. Look for a reputable brand that uses rigorous controls and measures to guarantee the potency of the product right up to the expiry date, not the manufacture date as many brands do.


    The Probiotics Aren’t Surviving the Journey

    Freeze-dried bacteria are another thing to look out for. Freeze-drying bacteria is a way that you can put the probiotics into a capsule or tablet form.

    The problem here isn’t the freeze-drying, per se, it’s that this type of processing makes the bacteria much more sensitive. This leaves them more susceptible to dying during their passage through the harsh, acidic environment of our stomachs.

    To avoid this, ensure your probiotic capsules features a targeted release, enteric coating. This type of technology helps to ensure that the bacteria inside the capsule are protected and can reach your intestines unharmed, where they can work their magic.


    You’re Not Taking the Correct Dosage for Your Concern 

    To get the effects of your probiotic and help support digestive health, you have to take the dosage of probiotics that is effective for your concern. Consistency is also critical, so ensure you get into a habit and take your probiotic every day.

    Start by being clear on why you are taking a probiotic. If you are taking a probiotic for general health, for example, the dosage you need may be very different than if you are trying to prevent Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea.

    It is also important to read labels. Some brands may claim a high number of bacteria (CFU count), but to get that dosage you may have to take multiple pills throughout the day.

    If you are on antibiotics, you want to ensure you are taking your probiotic at least 2-3 hours away from your medication.

    If you choose Bio-K+ as your probiotic, here are some guidelines to help.

    Daily Care 30 billion capsules: A great daily option for people new to probiotics or that tend to experience constipation more easily.

    Daily Care + 50 billion capsules: A great option for those who need daily support or a stronger alternative for more benefits.

    Extra Care 80 billion capsules: A great option for those who need extra support; a stronger alternative for better benefits.

    For those on antibiotics: to support and rebalance your gut health while on antibiotics, we recommend taking one to two of our Daily Care+ 50 billion capsules  for the duration of your treatment, and for five days following. If you are taking probiotics for this reason, be sure to take your dosage at least 2-3 hours prior (or after) taking your antibiotic.

    Your Probiotic Contains an Allergen You Are Sensitive To

    Digestive issues and food sensitivities often go hand and hand. If your probiotic contains something you are sensitive to, it may be doing you more harm than good.

    If you are sensitive to gluten, make sure you are taking a product that is certified gluten-free. If it is not certified gluten-free, it may contain trace amounts of gluten which can exacerbate your digestive issues.

    If you find you are sensitive to dairy, or soy, there are some great options that still provide all the benefits of a quality probiotic but in a format that works for you!

    Probiotics are one of the most powerful tools to improve health and well-being. If you have found that taking a probiotic hasn’t worked for you in the past, we encourage to think about the quality, strains, and science supporting the product.

    If you have any questions on probiotics and the role they have in your health, let us know in comments below! For more healthy inspirations, join our community. Click here to find the closest point of sale. Contact us or find us on Facebook and Instagram.

    Best Sellers


    Drinkable Vegan Probiotic

    Gluten-free, organic and non-GMO probiotics with a minimum of 50 billion live & active beneficial bacteria per bottle.

    Peach & Turmeric

    Extra Drinkable Probiotic

    80 billion live & active bacteria per bottle, with additional functional benefits

    Daily Care+ 50 Billion

    Vegan Probiotic Capsules

    Certified gluten-free and vegan probiotics. A great option for those who need daily support or a need a stronger alternative for better benefits.

    Jef L’Ecuyer Registered Dietitian
    About the author
    After her nutrition training at McGill University, Jef specialized in gastrointestinal health with a special interest in the microbiota and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. With Bio-K+, she continues on this path by making the world of probiotics more accessible to all.
    View all articles by Jef L’Ecuyer
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