Why Probiotics Sometimes Have A Stinky Side Effect

A careful balance of bacteria must be maintained in our gut for optimal function (via Medical News Today). When the gut is thrown off-balance, this can result in gastrointestinal issues such as bloating or acid reflux, as well as other health problems like fatigue, skin issues, mental health conditions, or food intolerances, according to Gastroenterology Healthcare Associates

Probiotics are thought to help replenish levels of good bacteria in the gut in order to alleviate digestive discomfort and maintain our overall health (per Medical News Today). Among their potential side effects are headaches, allergic reactions, and increased infection risk among immunocompromised individuals, reports Healthline. Interestingly however, while probiotics are purported to relieve symptoms of gastrointestinal issues, some people may find themselves experiencing side effects that seem to be doing the opposite. Specifically, flatulence.

Is it considered normal for our body to produce gas in response to taking a probiotic and how can we resolve this not-so-sweet-smelling issue?

Is it common to experience gas after starting probiotics?

Experts say it's not uncommon to feel gassy when you introduce probiotics into your system. In fact, LiveStrong reports that gas is among the most common side effects reported in people who take a daily probiotic dose of 1-2 billion CFUs (colony-forming units of bacteria). It's our body's natural response to an abrupt uptick in bacteria. Functional medicine doctor Dr. Amy Shah tells mindbodygreen that the side effects of gas or bloating typically begin early on, often in the first or second week of starting on a probiotic.

If you're taking a daily probiotic and experiencing gas or other forms of digestive discomfort, experts at mindbodygreen suggest spacing out your doses, such as taking one every few days. Alternatively, try coupling a prebiotic with your probiotic. Prebiotics help boost the effectiveness of probiotics by feeding good bacteria. Prebiotics can be taken in supplement form, but onions, garlic, bananas, apples, and whole oats are natural sources of prebiotics (per WebMD).

The good news is that flatulence should subside within a few days to a few weeks after starting a probiotic. If you find that gas or other symptoms are lingering beyond this time, be sure to consult with a physician.