How Do Probiotics Work? The Science Behind the Good Kind of Bacteria

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Probiotic Bubbles
Probiotic Bubbles

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Attention: gassy gals, bloated babes and anyone looking for probiotic support. ICYMI, we launched our first gut support product in the spring of 2022 — Synbiotic+, a 3-in-1 prebiotic, probiotic and postbiotic to support a balanced gut microflora. For those who are new to this incredible science, we wanted to take a minute to break down how probiotics work.

First, let’s set the scene where all of these powerhouse processes are taking place: the gut microbiome. The term “gut microbiome” refers to the bustling community of bacterial cells living in the human gastrointestinal tract. (1) We all have a gut microbiome, but everyone’s looks different based on their environment, lifestyle, and diet, as well as factors like nutrition, stress, and travel. All of these can cause imbalances in our gut microbiome which may show up as occasional bloating, gas, diarrhea, and digestive discomfort. (4)

Taking probiotics is one way to support the gut microbiome and gut barrier function.* (2)

But First, Let’s Introduce the Different Types of Probiotic Strains

Gut microbiota are composed of several different species of organisms, including bacteria, yeast, and viruses. Some of the most commonly-found forms are Lactobacillus, Bacillus, Bifidobacteria, Clostridium, Enterococcus, and Ruminicoccus. (3) Synbiotic+ includes two of the most clinically-studied strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria: Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG®) and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 (BB-12®), which are corroborated by over 100 publications of human clinical trials. (4)

Here’s What Happens When You Take Probiotics

So, say you’ve taken your first-ever probiotic. Good for you! Now, let’s find out how probiotics work in the body.

You can think of probiotics as taking a hero’s journey from the moment you ingest them. To make it through the digestive tract to the gut where they can get down to business (aka proliferate and confer health benefits), they need to be able to survive the ultra-acidic environment of our stomach. This is why we designed Synbiotic+ with a delayed-release capsule technology designed to reach the colon, an ideal place for probiotic bacteria to thrive and grow. Our delayed-release capsule is designed to also help the probiotics reach the colon.* (4)

When probiotics arrive at their intended destination, the gastrointestinal tract, they’re basically finding a place to set up shop and stay awhile. This is where they’ll introduce their “good” or “helpful” bacteria. (7) Probiotics also support the growth of the existing “good” bacteria in the gut, which play important roles in supporting gut health.* (1)

Where probiotics ultimately choose to stick around depends on the conditions in different areas of the gut. The acidity levels, oxygen levels, and types of bacteria that are already there will influence the movement of probiotics throughout the microbiome. (7)

Why Your Probiotic May Not Be Working

If you’ve tried other probiotics and not felt improvement in digestive function and other gastrointestinal symptoms, here are a few questions to ask.

Does the probiotic have a delayed-release capsule?

A delayed-release capsule, like Synbiotic+, helps ensure that the good bacteria in the probiotic reaches the colon, an ideal place for probiotics to survive and grow. Without a delayed-release capsule, the good bacteria may end up in the stomach, where they may be killed off by stomach acids before they can proliferate and begin their good work!* (4)

Are you storing the bottle correctly?

Some probiotics need to be refrigerated and kept away from moisture and sunlight in order to protect the bacteria inside. If this is the case, it most likely will say on the label or in directions from the manufacturer. If you aren’t storing your probiotics correctly, their good bacteria strains may die off before you even take a capsule out of the bottle.

To remove these barriers to use, we designed Synbiotic+ with a moisture-control bottle technology designed to protect the strains inside the capsules—so no refrigeration needed! We recommend keeping it on the shelf or in your cabinet next to your Ritual multi, so it has some company.

Are you taking the probiotic everyday?

When it comes to probiotics, consistency is key! If you stop taking probiotics, the healthy strains of bacteria that were previously introduced will only stay in the gastrointestinal tract for days or weeks. Think of your gut microbiome as a garden that you’re tending to daily, and need to consistently re-up with nourishment for supported benefits. Scientific evidence surrounding probiotics suggests that probiotics must be taken continuously in order to provide support.* (4)

When we’re taking a probiotic and feel our gut is supported, we have the happy bacteria living inside our gut to thank. If you’re interested in incorporating a gut health supplement into your daily Ritual, check out Synbiotic+.*


  1. Bull, M. J., & Plummer, N. T. (2014, December). Part 1: The human gut microbiome in health and ... Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.).

  2. Wang, et al. (2021, October). Probiotics Regulate Gut Microbiota: An Effective Method to Improve Immunity. Molecules.

  3. Rinninela, et al. (2019, January). What is the Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition? A Changing Ecosystem across Age, Environment, Diet, and ... Microorganisms.

  4. Office of Dietary Supplements. Probiotics: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health, Department of Health & Human Services. 2020.

  5. Zheng, L., & Wen, X.-L. (2021, January 16). Gut microbiota …: The current status and Perspectives. World journal of clinical cases. Retrieved March 20, 2023.

  6. JL;, S. (n.d.). The role of gastric acid in preventing foodborne … and how bacteria overcome acid conditions. Journal of food protection. Retrieved March 20, 2023.

  7. Hemarajata, P., & Versalovic, J. (2013, January). Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: Mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. … advances in gastroenterology. Retrieved March 20, 2023.

Meet the Author

This article was written by our content specialist.

Annie Hulkower Bio Image

Annie Hulkower, Copywriter, Editor, and Creative Strategist

Annie is a copywriter, editor, and creative strategist. She works with startups, agencies, and major brands to tell impactful stories at the intersection of health, wellness, and advocacy.

Annie Hulkower Bio Image

Annie Hulkower, Copywriter, Editor, and Creative Strategist

Annie is a copywriter, editor, and creative strategist. She works with startups, agencies, and major brands to tell impactful stories at the intersection of health, wellness, and advocacy.


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