AUTHOR: Dr. Jason Bush
Many of us have been prescribed medications on which the bottle sports a brightly colored sticker warning something like ‘Must be taken with food’, ‘Do not consume with grapefruit’, or ‘Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight when consuming this medication’. Borne of this experience, there is now the expectation that supplements, too, benefit from similarly specific dosage instructions. But when it comes to prebiotics, is there really a best time of day for you to take your supplement?
The answer: Maybe.
Prebiotic supplements serve the purpose of restoring an important source of nutrition lacking from typical Western Diets. Whether because of texture, taste, or industrial process, the prebiotic material normally present in our food has been reduced or even eliminated. In this sense, taking a prebiotic supplement is like taking a vitamin – you are making up for deficiencies in key nutrients that we would normally get from food. From this view, any time is a good time to take your prebiotic supplement.
However, unlike whole foods, prebiotic supplements deliver a concentrated source of fermentable material over a short period of time. In the case of someone suffering from constipation or irregularity, timing the dose of their prebiotic supplement may require consideration of their digestive habits and choosing to consume the supplement in a way that fits their routine. For these individuals, taking a prebiotic supplement at the wrong time of day can add to frustration with their gut health issues rather than providing relief.
Prebiotics are, by definition, not digested by our body, and pass largely intact through the stomach and small intestine. The indigestible nature of these compounds can influence how our body absorbs other substances. While this is not a concern for nutrition from food, it may affect the absorption of prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs. For this reason, it’s safest to take your prebiotic supplements at least two hours before or two hours after any other medication.
Finally, should you take your prebiotic supplement with food? While this is not necessary, it may be only natural for you to take your prebiotic supplement when eating or drinking something else given that prebiotics are normally part of the food we eat.
Ultimately, the best time to take your prebiotic supplement is a time of day that you will remember – and never miss a dose! Adding back this important source of nutrition will provide you with numerous health benefits and sticking to a regular schedule is important because it will help you meet your digestive health goals.