Are Your Probiotics Working? Here Are 7 Signs To Look For

So, you found a science-backed probiotic, stocked your medicine cabinet, diligently took your daily dose, but now what? 

If you’re paying attention, you will likely notice a few mild to significant changes in the way your body and mind function day to day. Because probiotics support the gut, which is now considered by many to be our second brain (1), the effects are far reaching and varied. Here are 7 pretty common signs from your body that your probiotic is working.

1. You’re more regular

Bowel regularity is one of the top reasons people reach for a probiotic, and for good reason. When a probiotic is working to restore optimal bacteria levels in your gut, your entire digestive system has an easier time doing its thing. You may notice it’s easier to avoid constipation, have full daily bowel movements with less training, and better regularity even in the face of stress or travel.

If you struggle with constipation or any type of IBS, make sure you’re doing your research and choosing a probiotic specifically formulated for those symptoms. 

2. You’re not getting sick as often

If your probiotic is working as it should, it will be helping to bolster your entire immune system. (2) That means that your body will do a better job of fighting off pathogens it encounters, like the ones it gets from germy door knobs, coughing coworkers, and other bugs in your environment. While it’s all but inevitable you’ll still get sick from time to time, a well-supported gut microbiome should lessen the times per year you’re down for the count.

3. You’re less bloated with fewer tummy troubles

While avoiding constipation and IBS symptoms (see number 1) will help with bloating by extension, you may notice an additional benefit from your probiotic, experiencing less daily or monthly bloating and being less reactive to stress, triggering foods, and other conditions that upset your stomach.  

If your mild stomach issues improve, you can thank your probiotic. If symptoms don’t improve or worsen, consider diving deeper on the root cause of what is causing bloating and upset. 

4. Your brain fog has lifted

A healthy gut, including one repaired and improved by a good probiotic, supports a healthy brain. (3) Memory, cognitive function, and even mood improvements are associated with a healthy gut. The gut-brain axis is a keystone of the body and brain health, meaning the two are inextricably linked in the efficacy of their function. If you notice work or school days are getting easier, your probiotic may be the driving factor.

5. Your skin is glowing

Did you know your skin accounts for about 15% of your total body weight? It’s your body’s largest organ and the one most exposed to environmental elements. You’ve heard of the gut-brain axis, but there is also an important gut-skin axis responsible for immune function and protection against infection. And while these systems function somewhat invisibly, the visual quality of your skin (complexion, tone, evenness, acne, wrinkles) are all signals of overall skin health. (4) When your gut-skin axis is adequately supported w the necessary bacteria, you may be able to notice an improvement to all the visual indicators of skin health. 

6. You’re catching more zzzs

Research has shown that a good daily probiotic can significantly improve the quality of your sleep. (5) While the mechanisms of action are not yet fully understood, we know that good gut health improves brain and hormone health, which both play a huge role in sleep regulation and influence your sleep-wake cycle. 

The upsetting truth is that the opposite is also true and can become cyclical. Bad sleep can lead to worsened gut health which can lead to even worse sleep quality. A great way to intervene in this cycle, should you find yourself struggling with it, is to reach for a good probiotic and take your sleep hygiene seriously.

7. You may be (finally) losing weight

It’s frustrating, but true. Poor gut health might be what is preventing you from losing weight. Gut dysbiosis can throw everything out of whack, including the way your digestive system triggers hunger and satiety hormones as well as metabolic function. Science and research support the idea that a healthy gut is essential for maintaining a healthy weight. (6) If you’re taking a probiotic that is helping to correct some of this dysfunction, it may very well be the shift that allows your other weight loss interventions, like diet and exercise, to finally begin showing results.

 What If You Don’t Notice Anything?

If you’re not noticing drastic or even noticeable changes in your body after taking a probiotic, don’t panic. Especially in otherwise healthy people, this is totally normal and doesn’t mean there aren’t invisible improvements happening behind the scenes. 

However, if there is a specific issue you are hoping to address or several symptoms you’re looking to manage, it is best to approach probiotic selection and symptom monitoring with an expert who knows which brands and strains will work best for your unique health needs.

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