Probiotics are friendly and beneficial bacteria that are in probiotic foods such as yogurt. Therefore, you can also take them as food supplements.
However, they restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut following an illness or treatment. Also, you can find them in other locations in your body like the vagina, mouth, urinary tract, skin, and lungs.
What are Probiotics?
Therefore, probiotics are live microorganisms that enter the body, colonize the gut, and eliminate unwanted bacteria. To achieve maximum benefits, they must enter the body alive since dead microorganisms cannot fight off harmful bacteria.
The collective number of these organisms that also enter the gut is a matter of importance. If there are fewer live microorganisms that enter it, this would mean that you will get fewer good bacteria.
Many types of bacteria may be probiotics, but the most common probiotics include:
Do Probiotics Expire?
Yes. Probiotics do expire, and as a result, you should always check the expiration dates to avoid digestive health side effects. People wonder- Do expired probiotics still work? The answer is yes, they do but will give you fewer probiotic health benefits.
A good quality probiotic supplement will always contain live bacteria, but expired products may have a smaller number of live bacteria.
The Problem with Expired Probiotics:
Probiotic manufacturers are often required to highlight the expiry date of their products so that consumers are aware of their shelf life.
However, this does not mean that it stops being effective after the indicated time frame. The microorganisms in the supplements may die before the stated date, but sometimes the shelf life may also extend beyond the expiry period.
Another problem is that the labeling recommendations may contain several probiotics, but it is hard to tell whether this weight includes the live or dead microorganisms.
Since it is hard to tell whether the probiotic supplements you have purchased have live microorganisms, you can conduct a probiotic milk test which entails putting the capsule in milk. If the milk becomes yogurt, it will mean that the bacteria in the capsule are alive.
What Affects Probiotics Viability?
Probiotic viability is affected by factors such as oxygen toxicity and stomach acid:
- Oxygen Toxicity:
Most probiotics need some amount of oxygen to reproduce or grow. However, some of them can also breed without oxygen. Certain studies indicate that too much oxygen can inhibit the growth of microorganisms. As a result, some probiotic strains such as Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus acidophilus may be affected by oxygen toxicity. Therefore, storage conditions affect the viability of the probiotic.
- Stomach Acid:
The acidity in the stomach helps to digest food. However, if the probiotics enter the stomach, it gets rid of them. Therefore, it is unfortunate as you will not be able to get the maximum benefits of probiotics. When they reach the stomach, their numbers reduce because of the acidity. If an individual wants to protect them from it, they should take them on an empty stomach.
Important Things about Expired Probiotics:
Most probiotic supplements have a one-year expiration date. However, factors such as heat, and light have the potential to kill them. Additionally, if a probiotic gets mishandled during storage or transportation, it may die and no longer be beneficial to you.
Although an expired probiotic won’t harm you once it goes beyond its due date, it may lack the full potency needed to promote your gut health. If you discover that it has expired, it is best to purchase a new one to acquire the maximum benefits. You can always restock on new probiotics from trustworthy places like Probulin.