Probiotics, which is the scientific word for the good bacteria living in our intestines, are critically important for the healthy function of our bodies. These tiny little beneficial bacteria assist the body with many functions spawning from digestion and bowel movements, to the immune system and cognitive function. In addition, more and more research shows that there is a connection between the make-up of the gut bacteria and certain chronic illnesses.
Probiotics are an extremely beneficial dietary supplement to support overall health and vitality. Men, women and kids can benefit from the powerful effects of a high-quality probiotic supplement. In this blog post, we will explore the ways that men specifically can benefit from probiotics.
Why Men Need Different Probiotics
Generally speaking, men and women have slightly different needs. This also applies to probiotics. While there are many benefits that everyone can enjoy from taking a probiotic supplement, there are also more targeted benefits, depending on the formula, some of which are geared towards men and others towards women.
For example, probiotics can be a powerful way to support vaginal health as well as a healthy pregnancy. Men, on the other hand, might be looking for support with their metabolism, liver health, immune health and physical fitness.
Benefits of Probiotics
Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in your small and large intestine. This world of bacteria in the gut is called the microbiome or microbiota. These microorganisms in our gut microbiome promote health from the inside out; they assist with many, important functions in the body.
Unfortunately, many of us do not have enough of the good bacteria in our gut, which leads to a disruption in the healthy function of our bodies. Why is this so? Well, because external factors, such as stress, an unhealthy diet, alcohol consumption, and a common reliance on OTC medications (to name a few) damage our gut microbiome and kill off many of the good bacteria.
Early warning signs include digestive discomfort, including diarrhea, constipation, bloating and gas. Over time, this can lead to a weaker immune system, skin flare-ups, brain fog and regular headaches. Over months and years, a dysbiosis (imbalance) in the gut, can contribute to more serious health issues, like Alzheimer’s and chronic liver disease.It’s key to make sure that there are enough good bacteria in your digestive system and one way to do so is by taking a probiotic supplement. Let’s take a look at 14 benefits men will feel from taking a probiotic supplement.
1. Probiotics Replenish The Good Bacteria in Your Gut
By taking a probiotic supplement you are replenishing the good bacteria in your gut so that they can continue to help your body function at its highest level.
There are many different probiotic species and strains. You can think of a species like a family and a strain like a family member. The “families” vary more and are involved in different functions. The “family members” are similar in each probiotic species, however, they also perform slightly different functions in the body. The human gut contains 400-600 probiotic species and billions of probiotic bacteria altogether!
With that in mind, it will come as no surprise, that it is most effective to take a probiotic supplement that is designed to address your personal health goals.
2. Probiotics Can Help with Diarrhea
There are four common causes for diarrhea and probiotics can help in every case.
Diarrhea is a natural and highly effective way that the body gets rid of harmful substances, including pathogens (bad bacteria, viruses and fungi). The body responds by getting rid of these dangerous invaders as fast as possible. This happens when you have a stomach bug, food poisoning and traveler’s diarrhea.
Specific strains of probiotic bacteria can fight certain bad bacteria and viruses. Probiotics also positively influence the gut microbiome so that there is less room for pathogens to flourish.
Certain Medications (Antibiotics)
Certain medications, like antibiotics, severely compromise your gut microbiome. Probiotics restore and maintain a healthy gut microbiome when taking strong medications. Research shows that probiotics can significantly reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
Inflammation in the Bowels
Some chronic diseases, like inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s are often associated with diarrhea. In addition, certain foods cause inflammation in the gut, including dairy, gluten and processed sugar. Probiotics strengthen the gut barrier function, which is compromised when the gut gets inflamed.
Physical and Emotional Stress
Stress also causes inflammation in the gut, leading to diarrhea. In stressful times, your body produces hormones that speed up the movement of your large intestine and you experience this as diarrhea.
Specific probiotic bacteria assist in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters, which are used by the gut and brain to communicate with each other. In simple terms, this means that probiotics ensure that the gut and brain communicate in a healthy way.
3. Reduce Digestive Disorder Symptoms
Probiotics are a powerful way to support your gut if you have a digestive disorder. Many digestive disorders, such as IBS and leaky gut, go along with a change in your gut microbiome and inflammation in the gut. In many instances, the number of bacteria and the diversity of bacterial species goes down drastically in individuals with digestive disorders.
4. Probiotics May Support Mental Health
Probiotics influence mental health in several ways.
Healthy Gut-Brain Connection
The gut and the brain stand in constant communication with one another. Probiotic bacteria help to produce and metabolize the messenger signals that are sent via the bloodstream to the brain. Therefore, the composition of gut bacteria can influence the messages that get sent to your brain and impact your mental wellbeing.
For example, up to 95% of your happiness hormone Serotonin as well as a significant amount of the pleasure neurotransmitter Dopamine are produced in the gut. Both of these substances are directly linked to mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Inflammation in the gut is commonly linked to inflammation in the brain, also known as neuroinflammation. A clinical study by Leblhuber, et. al, published in Current Alzheimer Research in 2018 investigates that a dysbiosis of intestinal microbiota in elderly can cause a leaky gut, which may result in silent systemic inflammation and promote neuroinflammation – a relevant pathomechanism in the early course of Alzheimer’s disease. The rebalancing of the gut microbiome can reduce inflammation in the gut and throughout the body, including the brain.
Healthy Nutrient Absorption
Your gut bacteria maintain a healthy small and large intestine, which is key for proper nutrient absorption. Many of these nutrients are critical for proper brain function. An imbalance of gut bacteria and inflammation in the gut negatively impact nutrient absorption.
5. Probiotics Can Improve Your Metabolic Health
Several studies have investigated the connection between our gut microbiome and metabolic health. The insight: An imbalance in our gut microbiome can have an impact on our metabolism and metabolic disorders, such as Type 2 Diabetes.
Results showed a significant improvement in insulin resistance and inflammatory markers related to fat tissue surrounding the body, as well as a reduction in cholesterol levels.
6. Probiotics May Help with Weight Loss
Multiple research studies indicate that the composition of the gut microbiome is linked to a person’s body weight.
While research is still in its early stages, it has shown that certain types of probiotic bacteria are more common in thin people and other types are more common in overweight individuals. Depending on which type of bacteria you have more of, your weight can be affected.
In addition, if your gut microbiome is out of balance, there is an opportunity for bad bacteria and other pathogens, such as Candida, to grow. Many of these pathogens send signals to the brain that encourage the body to crave sugar, because sugar is what these pathogens survive on. The more sugar you eat, the better these pathogens can thrive!
7. Probiotics Can Boost Your Immune System
80% of the immune system lives in the intestines! Probiotics keep the gut healthy and with that promote a strong immune system.
Furthermore, intense, strenuous exercise without enough time to rest and recover creates oxidative stress in the body. This can manifest in inflammation in the gut and lead to leaky gut. Maintaining a strong gut flora via probiotics protects your gut, so that you can spend more time exercising and promoting your fitness.
8. Probiotics May Help with Certain Allergies
By strengthening the gut barrier, probiotics decrease the chance for unwanted food particles to enter the bloodstream through a “leaky gut.”
If food particles would enter the bloodstream, the immune system would detect this as invaders and trigger an immune response. We would experience this immune response and inflammation as nausea, stomachache, digestive discomfort, headache and skin rash, to name a few.
An allergy is simply a misdirected reaction, sometimes even an overreaction, of the immune system. Probiotics help to balance a healthy immune function and with that help protect against the onset of allergies, food intolerances and chronic skin issues.
On that note, specific probiotic bacteria can directly protect against exaggerated inflammatory processes and autoimmune disease by increasing the production of IL-10. This is a messenger substance that helps the body manage inflammation.
9. Support Prostate Health
According to the American Cancer Society, next to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. In a recent study, researchers examined the relationship between the gut microbiome and types of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) used to treat advanced prostate cancer.
They found that gut bacteria may influence clinical response to ADT and modulate the anti-tumor effects of other drugs used for advanced prostate cancer treatment. More research is needed to determine this for sure, but early signs point to there being a way to target the gut microbiome via probiotics, prebiotics and fecal transplants and with that enhancing ADT and other forms of treatment.
In addition, it might be that probiotics can help with benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate). Benign prostatic hyperplasia is commonly associated with urinary tract infections (UTIs) in men. Specific probiotic strains have the ability to inhibit pathogens leading to UTIs and that’s how the connection can be explained. That said, evidence is not sufficient to claim anything for sure.
10. Probiotics Can Help with Ulcers
Peptic ulcers are commonly caused by an infection of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori). H. pylori is present in more than half of the world’s population and in most people it never causes any problems.
However, in some people this bacterium can lead to the formation of an ulcer, causing abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite, frequent burping, bloating and unintentional weight loss. H. pylori can be treated with antibiotics (and supplemented with probiotics).
There is a growing amount of research that shows that probiotics can help manage an H. pylori infection, by increasing the eradication rate, improving symptoms and lowering treatment associated side effects.
11. Probiotics Can Raise Testosterone Levels
Testosterone levels in men decrease with age, leading to reduced spermatogenesis, libido and sexual function, increased body fat, decreased muscle and bone mass, low energy levels, fatigue, poor physical performance, depressed mood, and impaired cognitive dysfunction.
A study with aging mice that were given the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri in their drinking water resulted in larger testicles, increased serum testosterone levels and spermatogenesis, compared to their regular diet counterparts.
Even more notably, a recent clinical study found a significant improvement in testosterone levels and sperm count in infertile men undergoing a probiotic/prebiotic therapy. Nonetheless, additional research, and especially clinical studies in humans is required in this area.
12. Probiotics Can Increase Sperm Count
There is a theory that male infertility can be caused by bacteria in semen. A study analyzed the most predominant bacteria in the sperm of 97 men in relation to the quality of the sperm.
What they found was that the most abundant species were Lactobacillus, Pseudomonas, Prevotella and Gardnerella. The proportion of Lactobacillus and Gardnerella was significantly higher in the good sperm samples, while that of Prevotella was significantly higher in the low-quality samples.
This underlines that there is a connection between bad bacteria in semen and infertility. In addition, this means that probiotic bacteria might be able to promote the health of sperm.
13. Fight Diverticular Disease
Diverticular disease is a common condition that causes small bulges or sacs to form in the wall of the large intestine (colon). Research shows that recurrence rates of diverticular disease decreased significantly in patients with symptomatic uncomplicated diverticular disease after taking 12 months of a multispecies probiotic supplement.
14. Maintain and Restore Bone Health
Our beneficial bacteria restore and maintain our intestinal health. This allows our gut with its billions of probiotics to properly sort through what we ingest and absorb all the nutrients we need and excrete any waste. Probiotics assist our body in getting the vitamins and minerals it needs to maintain bone health, also in old age.
Other Factors for Digestive System Health
Eat Enough Fiber
Fiber serves as the food for your gut bacteria and is very important to promote their healthy function. In addition, fiber helps to form the mucus that transports your stool out of your intestines, and thus aids in regular bowel movements.
Staying hydrated also keeps things moving in your digestive tract.
Avoid Inflammatory Foods
As discussed, certain foods cause inflammation in the gut. These include foods rich in dairy, gluten, processed sugar and trans fats. Furthermore, sugar often serves as the food for pathogens.
Move Your Body Regularly
Several studies have established a link between regular physical activity and healthy bowel movements.
Manage Your Stress
The gut is especially sensitive to stress and many beneficial bacteria in the gut die off during stressful times. This causes inflammation in the gut, which leads to the tight junctions in the gut barrier breaking and resulting in leaky gut. Pathogens can now travel into the bloodstream, causing inflammation throughout the body, which manifests as digestive discomfort, as well as short term and longer-term illness.
Introducing Probiotics Into Your Daily Regimen
Probiotic Foods and Drinks vs. Supplements
You can introduce probiotics to your daily regimen by opting for probiotic rich foods and drinks, as well as by taking a probiotic supplement.
There are benefits to adding probiotic foods and drinks to your diet, but more so there are potential issues to consider.
If you’re looking for a truly effective digestive and gut health, it’s best to reach for a multispecies and multistrain, specifically combined probiotic supplement that is tailored to your needs and manufactured in a way that can prevail through the harsh GI tract.
How Many CFUs To Take?
CFU stands for “Colony Forming Units.” It’s a measure for how many viable bacteria are in your probiotic. But, higher CFU doesn’t equal a better probiotic.
What is so much more important is to look at the research the probiotic is based on, the science behind the combination of probiotic species and strains, the product’s delivery mechanism and the composition and ingredients of the supplement.
Best Time To Take Probiotics?
It is always good to read the instructions on how to take a probiotic supplement, as this might vary depending on the product. There are benefits of taking a probiotic supplement on an empty stomach.
When Will You Feel Benefits?
This varies depending on each person’s state of health and the quality of the probiotic supplement. Generally speaking, if you are taking a high-quality probiotic supplement, you will likely feel a positive impact on your digestion in the first few days of taking it. The additional health benefits should become apparent after a few weeks or months.
That said, given the external stressors we are confronted with on a daily basis, it is highly beneficial to add a probiotic supplement to your long term, daily wellness routine. This will rebuild and then maintain your health and vitality from your core.
Best Probiotic for Men’s Health
If we had to pick one probiotic supplement that’s great for men, we’d go with this one.
This probiotic contains specific strains that support a strong gut barrier, reduce inflammation in the colon, and act on the gut-brain axis promoting healthy cognitive function, including positive mood, focus and concentration, and memory.
It’s a powerful probiotic for the modern man, who is always on the go, stressed because he’s juggling family, work and friends, and perhaps not eating the healthiest of diets.
That being said, probiotics work best when they address your personal health goals. So, if you are struggling with specific health issues, such as diabetes, IBS, weight gain or a skin condition, then make sure to opt for a probiotic supplement that best supports you.