When you’re taking a probiotic supplement, you are ingesting live bacteria… that’s literally how they work. You’re introducing new bacteria not just to help support your gut, but in a bid to replenish your normal good bacteria levels.
People take probiotics for a variety of reasons – whether they’re recovering from a course of antibiotics, managing the symptoms of a medical condition or looking for a way to improve digestion.
Inevitably, when you’re introducing new bacteria to an already existing microbial ecosystem, there will be some side effects.
Can Lactobacillus Acidophilus and other probiotics cause gas?
The sudden rush of extra bacteria can cause bloating…. Don’t worry, this won’t last forever. This feeling of gas build up can cause discomfort when your abdomen is compressed.
Something as simple as sitting down may become annoying as the gas is squashed and causes internal pressure. If you’re taking a yeast-based probiotic, you may find the gas is a little smelly. Why? Well, because it’s gas… but also because yeast is a live active agent, with very busy and sometimes volatile bacteria. It's why we put it into bread, as it rapidly expands and has quicker chemical reactions.
If you have diarrhea after taking probiotics, you should contact your doctor. Likely, it’s nothing serious – typically because your doctor will suggest waiting until you adjust, or switching to a formulation that is less concentrated.
When you’re pumping billions of new bacteria into your gut by taking probiotics, your body will try to cope with your demands. This can lead to an overgrowth of your small intestine, called SIBO. Although the unique causes are not fully understood, experts do link the condition to those who regularly take probiotics.
The increase in the size of the small intestine puts pressure on the surrounding organs and can lead to reduced mobility of the food passing through your bowels. This isn’t just a “probiotic supplement thing,” eating too many probiotic foods like yogurt can have a similar effect.
Unless your probiotics are causing unusual amounts of probiotics for an extended amount of time, you’re likely just adjusting to your new probiotic routine.
Can prebiotics cause gas?
We talk a lot about probiotics, but taking a prebiotic is just as important for your gut health. Prebiotics are non-living, non-digestible ingredients which feed all that good bacteria that your probiotics are bringing you. They’ve gotta stay alive too!
Dietary fiber is one of the best prebiotics. But the problem is, most Americans don’t get enough of the right kinds of fiber. So the option is supplements - the problem with that, though, is that they are often derived from fiber or carbs, and cause gas and bloating.
Although fibers and starches can cause gas and bloating, they are essential for the health of your gut. By consuming in moderation you can limit these side effects.
Can probiotics cause stomach pain?
Probiotics can cause a number of side effects, but chief among them is an upset stomach. How long does the pain last for? What causes it? Can you sidestep it
Well, with each probiotic capsule you take, you’re adding a lot of foreign bacteria into your gut and asking your current bacteria to assimilate the new arrivals into the microbial ecosystem.
Especially if you’re taking a probiotic supplement which has Saccharomyces boulardii, you might find that you’re experiencing upset stomachs more frequently.
S.boulardii is a yeast-based probiotic, which is very active and those that have a yeast allergy should stay clear of it (but if you have a yeast allergy, you probably already knew that).
Pregnant women should also stay away from this probiotic as it's already volatile in healthy people, so you shouldn’t risk it while carrying a child.
Can probiotics cause bloating?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is, probiotics are essential bacteria pills. Your system is being introduced to billions of living things that all move around, react to their surroundings and will take time to settle in.
Achieving your best gut health isn’t going to happen overnight, okay? The production of gas is simply a byproduct of your body pushing all this bad bacteria out. You’re usually introducing a strain of bacteria that loves to eat what you’ve eaten.
The hard to digest foods like starch, fiber and some sugars, will bring out the strongest bacteria. They are tasked with doing the heavy lifting and releasing strong enzymes which break down very tough molecules.
We already talked a little bit about SIBO, which is when the small intestine becomes swollen or enlarged. Contrary to popular belief (ie. a couple of articles on the internet), probiotics aren’t wise treatments for SIBO, in fact quite the opposite.
Instead, due to the introduction of billions of bacteria to your gut, probiotics add an increased number of digestive microbials. D-lactic acid can build up, and in turn cause your small intestine to become larger due to the inflammation.
You may find that switching to less complex foods and fibers will help your gut remain balanced and not so gaseous. Foods that are low in starch, and complex sugars and high in fiber might be the better choice.
A combination of high starch and fiber will be tougher to break down and thus, stronger good bacteria will be called for the job, and thus more gas is produced. This can make you feel bloated. Make sense?
Do probiotics cause stinky gas?
Yes… we have to address it, okay? Many people are conscious of the fact that taking probiotics can cause gas and bloating, but they’re also worried it might not be wise to take them before work (for the same reasons you’d never take a laxative before heading to the office).
This is an easy fix: take probiotics that are not solely yeast-based. Saccharomyces boulardii is a common probiotic bacteria that are known to cause gas build-ups.
Keep in mind that limiting complex carbs and moderating the fiber in your diet will also help limit gas, especially when you’re adjusting to probiotics.
What about probiotic foods like whole grains? Not only do they cause gas, they don’t normally change the gut flora in your intestines (which is kind of the point of probiotics in the first place).
If you’re looking to improve your gut health, whole grains aren’t your best bet, but they do play a role in your blood sugar levels, so everything in moderation.
Probiotics can be volatile and cause bad gas, stomach pain and abdominal cramps if your gut is working overtime to push all that bad bacteria out.
Remember, if problems persist, remember that there’s always an alternative option if you want to receive all the probiotic benefits, with none of the bloating.