Side Effects of Prebiotics and Probiotics

Prebiotics and probiotics are some of the most useful and risk-free supplements out there, providing thousands with digestive relief every day. Prebiotic and probiotic supplements generally work by providing a source of “friendly” bacteria for those who might be suffering with an imbalance, helping to prevent and relieve the symptoms of diarrhoea, gas, bloating, irregularity, irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive ailments. Balancing out gut flora can also provide some much-needed support to the immune system (much of which is located in the gut lining).

Although far less prone to problems than other supplements out there, probiotic and prebiotic supplements can still pose occasional issues. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most common side effects people experience whilst using probiotic supplements, and examine whether these are really serious enough to worry about.

Common and temporary side effects

Side Effects of Prebiotics and ProbioticsAlthough prebiotic/probiotic supplements are generally taken to bring the gut under control, many people often go through a temporary period whether minor symptoms actually seem to get worse before they get better. Potential initial side effects include worsening diarrhoea, gas, bloating, and mild stomach upset, all of which may arise from pre-existing problems that have become aggravated. This has sometimes been so alarming that it prompts people to avoid taking the supplements as a result.

Unfortunately, this decision is often not the right one. Although probiotic supplements can cause problems initially, many of these side effects are only temporary and are liable to fade within a few days.

Adverse and embarrassing effects like these actually only arise as part of a normal transition period. At least initially, the body simply needs to get accustomed to the new stores of friendly bacteria (this might be especially true if the body’s gut bacteria were unbalanced over several years).

Serious side effects

However, it also pays to remain aware of the potential for serious side effects. On rare occasions, people find that they experience an allergic reaction to probiotic supplements, most frequently resulting in a rash. People already suffering with an allergy to milk or yeast should exercise caution, or those that know they are allergic to the prebiotic fibre known as inulin.

Other serious side effects are possible if consumers already suffer with a compromised immune system, such as those who have been sick with a terminal or serious illness, the elderly, children, or pregnant women. In these cases, probiotic or prebiotic supplements can actually make people feel poorly or sickly. For those suffering with a compromised or inured bowel, the use of supplements like these can also cause bacteria to leak into the blood, causing sepsis and infections.

Does all of this mean that I should give probiotics or prebiotics a miss?

Side Effects of Prebiotics and Probiotics - worth takingIt is important to remember that probiotics aren’t a magic pill. If you are suffering with any gut related issues, a combination of a gut-friendly diet along with a good quality probiotics is the best approach.

Of course, if you’re in any of the “at-risk” categories we described above, it may be worth avoiding supplements like these, or at least check in with your doctor before giving them a try.

If you still feel lost and uncertain but determined to improve your gut health, finding a suitable and qualified Dietitian/Nutritionist or a health coach is always a good idea.

Ultimately, for most of us, probiotic and prebiotic supplements are some of the most useful and inexpensive supplements out there, and the chances of suffering with notable or long-term side effects are minimal at best.

Unlike most bacteria, these ones really are good for you!

Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.

Have Your Say

Get the conversation started by leaving your comments using the form above.

Add your comment

We'd love to get your opinion. Please keep it clean and stay on topic, no spamming. Comments are moderated before being made live. Your email address will not be published.
We cannot give advice about medical conditions or prescription drugs. Please direct specific medical questions to your doctor.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.