Can You Take Too Many Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that help improve and maintain digestive health and boost your immune system. Made of good or beneficial bacteria and yeasts, probiotics help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut microbiome, which consists of trillions of bacteria and other microbes (via Bustle). Consuming probiotics in the form of supplements or eating and drinking probiotic-rich foods and drinks, like yogurt and kombucha, can help foster the growth of good bacteria in your gut.

This growth can help regulate your digestive system, enhance immune function, and even improve the quality of your skin. That's why doctors often recommend probiotics to people with irritable bowel syndrome or any other gastrointestinal issues that cause bloating, gas, nausea, or diarrhea. Taking too many probiotics, however, can have quite the opposite effect. Consuming probiotics in excess may cause your gut microbiome to become imbalanced, which can upset your stomach and the rest of your gastrointestinal tract.

Side effects of taking too many probiotics

Although it is not possible to overdose on probiotics, taking too many can cause some unpleasant and potentially harmful side effects. In fact, consuming large quantities of probiotics can actually counteract their many health benefits. For instance, taking too many probiotics can cause gas and bloating (via Bustle). While it's not unusual to experience these side effects after you first start taking probiotics, they should not last for more than a few weeks. If the gas and bloating do not subside, you might have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a condition caused by an excess of bacteria growing in the small intestine.

Diarrhea is another side effect of taking too many probiotics. Persistent or chronic diarrhea is actually a sign that your gut microbiome is experiencing an imbalance of microorganisms. Consuming probiotics in excess may also increase your risk of infection, especially if you have a weakened immune system or are already at risk (via Insider). That's why it's important to not overdo it. Most probiotic supplements contain around 1 to 10 billion colony forming units (CFU), but certain supplements may contain up to 50 billion CFU. While there is no correct dose, you should lower your probiotic dosage if you experience any side effects for more than a few weeks. The best way to avoid taking too many probiotics in the first place, however, is to get your probiotics from food. Yogurt and kimchi are naturally rich in probiotics, and probiotic drinks like kefir and kombucha also yield the same result.