Can Probiotics Cause Gas and Bloating?
Published April 14th, 2021
All things have their pros and cons and probiotics are no exception. While they may have plenty of health benefits, probiotics may also cause several side effects. The most common of which is the apparent increase in farting which leads some people to ask: can probiotics cause gas and bloating?
Unfortunately, yes. Some types of probiotics can cause gas and bloating. This is especially true for yeast-based probiotics. But we need to remember that there are thousands of probiotic strains out there (and thousands more undiscovered). Each strain has its own functions and varying side effects. Besides, everyone reacts differently to each of these strains. Some probiotics may cause you to pass out gas more often than you like. But others won’t necessarily experience the same.
The good news is this increased gassiness and bloating typically last only a few days. Once your body adjusts, the health benefits usually outweigh the negative side effects.
Why Do Probiotics Give You Gas?
To answer this question, we need to go back to the basics of how probiotics work.
As you may already know, probiotics are live microorganisms with known health benefits. Also dubbed as the “good bacteria”, they work by “kicking out” the bad ones.
Our body already has its own population of microorganisms – both good and bad. They make up what we call our microbiota. When we introduce probiotics into the fray, your body may not recognize them immediately. The increased flatulence is one of the signs that your body is responding to probiotics. This adjustment period can last from a few days to a few weeks.
During this period, the good bacteria will also start to affect your body’s digestive process. As a result, the foods you eat are broken down and converted into nutrients much faster. This process creates gas as a by-product. The body then gets rid of this excess gas by burping or passing it through your anus.
Foods rich in carbohydrates are especially known to give off lots of gas. So if you want to minimize farting while on probiotics, cut back on carbohydrate-rich foods. Starting with a low dose of probiotics will also help. It helps your body get slowly acquainted with probiotics thus minimizing adverse reactions.
Other Side Effects of Probiotics
Aside from unpleasant digestive gases, probiotics may also cause the following side effects:
Some probiotic foods, particularly fermented ones, contain biogenic amines. They are substances that develop when the protein-rich foods are aged or fermented. Though generally safe, some people don’t respond well to amines. It restricts their blood flow and may even cause headaches.
Though very rare, there have been reports of people experiencing skin rashes due to probiotics.
Increased Allergy Risk
Some probiotic strains can increase histamine levels in your blood. This leads to allergy symptoms like inflammation, watery eyes, runny nose, or difficulty in breathing.
There are also probiotic foods or even supplements that contain or are derived from dairy, egg, or soy. If you’re allergic to these foods, be sure to read the label first.
Increased Risk of Infection
Though probiotics are safe in general, they can pose a risk for people with compromised immune systems. A review in 2017 shows that they can develop bacterial and fungal infections from using probiotics.
Should You Take Probiotics Every Day?
In general, it’s safe to take probiotics every day. In fact, it’s recommended to take them daily.
Remember that probiotics are considered natural supplements, not medicines. Thus, there is no risk of overdosing from it. Besides, it can take days for the good bacteria to establish themselves in your microbiome. This makes probiotics most effective when taken on a regular basis.
When Should You Stop Taking Probiotics?
Side effects from probiotics are usually not life-threatening. And in many cases, they go away on their own. But if they don’t or they got worse, call your doctor immediately. Your doctor will know if the symptoms are caused by probiotics or something else entirely. When it comes to your health, and with everything else in life, always err on the side of caution.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a firm believer in the health benefits of probiotics and she wants to share that with the world. She also loves to write about healthy foods and other healthy living tips.