Eli5: If we are to assume that probiotics survive and thrive in our bodies, why is it necessary to take them indefinitely? Shouldn’t we be able to establish a self-sustaining colony?

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Eli5: If we are to assume that probiotics survive and thrive in our bodies, why is it necessary to take them indefinitely? Shouldn’t we be able to establish a self-sustaining colony?

In: Biology
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I think you should consider wether or not it is necessary to take them in the first place, and if so if pills are the only way. I live in France and unless for medical reason nobody is taking probiotics or even vitamins daily… Either Europe has missed some important info, or maybe it’s all just a scam and you don’t need probiotics…

Probiotics are usually prescribed with antibiotics.

The problem with antibiotics is they kill all microorganisms in your body, the “bad” ones that are causing the infection, and the “good” ones in your digestive tract that help with digestion.

So the doctors give you probiotics in order to “restore” your digestive tract bacteria. But typically you have to continue taking antibiotics for at least two weeks, so the probiotics you just took will be killed by the antibiotics.

So that’s why you have to keep taking them.

Once the antibiotics are done, you should stop taking the probiotics too; what you have in your intestines will then be able to survive and thrive.

Looks like this question is based on incorrect premises – it is certainly not necessary to take probiotics indefinitely (at least in pill form – see below). Anyone telling you so is either misinformed or has agenda to push. Probiotics are beneficiary in moderation but excessive intake leads to bloating, gas, increased thirst and other side effects (not to mention possible bacterial infection in case your immune system is compromised). Probiotics are most commonly prescribed with anti-biotics to help restore some of the gut bacteria the anti-biotics inadvertently kill.

That being said, it’s good idea to incorporate some natural probiotic sources into your diet – Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi and soy sauce are good sources of probiotics. That in and of itself should be enough to help you regulate gut micro-flora. Still, if you think you could benefit from increased intake, I’d strongly suggest consulting a physician first and finding a good product.

Your gut flora is in parts determined by your diet. This means that over time, it will adjust to where most of your gut flora is made up of those strains that make the best use of what they are given to work with.

This means that occasional intake of outside sources of bacteria can make your gut flora more varied, or reintroduce bacteria that might be beneficial.

Probiotic are used in general to “replenish” your good gut bacteria when something reduces your natural population. This may be anything from illness, diarrhea, antibiotics, bad eating habits…

Yes, they should be able to establish a self-sustaining colony if the conditions that killed your resident bacteria stop. In general you are supposed to take them to help your resident bacteria until the problem goes away

Who is telling you to take them indefinitely? This is not necessary in the general population, exceptions may be in place for those with chronic medical conditions.

As other people already said you don’t “need” to take them indefinitely but eating probiotic food is good for your general health ( and tastes good).
When you start eating probiotics or if you eat too much, you might experience bloating, mild diarrhea and other symptoms because you’re altering your gut flora.
If you want those changes to persist ( probiotics establishing colonies in your gut) you need to keep eating probiotics for a long time ( I’ve heard from a month up to a year). Don’t need much but need regularity until you give the colony a chance to establish.
That said, unles prescripted by a professional, probioticscan be harmful if you have internal wounds ( such as an ulcer)

Daily probiotics are like daily vitamins and other supplements. The theory is that your body will keep and use what it needs, and expel the rest. Without detailed analysis it’s impossible to know which elements of each are needed and how often, so “take daily” is generally safe enough to do, and easy to remember

Granted, a proper diet will provide all the nutrients needed to support overall health (to include naturally occurring probiotic flora) but a lot of “modern” diets aren’t that healthy so a little extra “oomph” from vitamins, probiotics, and other supplements can be helpful.