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June 23, 2022
7 Powerful Health Benefits of Probiotics for Women
What do you think of when you hear the word bacteria?
Maybe your first thought is gross. But when you look at the dozens of studies that analyze bacteria, it’s proving to be more of a friend than a foe.
In fact, for any average person, there are approximately 100 trillion good bacteria living inside their body at any given moment (1). This good bacteria encourages a healthy gut and can be found in certain foods, as well as in probiotics, something you can take daily as a supplement.
Why Should I Take a Probiotic?
There are microscopic organisms in your lower intestinal tract called microbes. These microorganisms help you digest food, regulate your immune system, and fight off harmful bacteria.
However, sometimes an imbalance of these microbes can occur, leading to gut health issues like leaky gut, bloat, or diarrhea. When this irritating imbalance occurs, a probiotic supplement helps restore the good bacteria back to your gut.
Probiotics have been shown to activate the immune systems and prevent pathogens from creating dangerous diseases in the body. Some studies even suggest that taking a probiotic while you’re on an antibiotic can decrease the likelihood of getting diarrhea as a side effect of the medication (2).
What Are the Health Benefits of Probiotics?
While the main purpose of using a probiotic supplement is to reintroduce good bacteria into your body, there are many other health benefits that are associated with the use of a probiotic as well.
1. Immune System
Probiotics boost the good bacteria in your body to create the vitamins and enzymes it needs.
2. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
It’s been shown that probiotics not only reduce the severity of UTI symptoms, but also the frequency in which you may get them.
3. Yeast Infections
Studies have reported that certain probiotic strains can help prevent yeast infections and keep your microbiome balanced.
4. Skin Problems
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, both oral and topical probiotics can potentially help with skin issues such as eczema, rosacea, and acne.
According to research, a good ratio of probiotic strains can help improve your fertility.
Probiotic supplements can aid in digestion if you’re suffering from gastrointestinal problems like chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating.
7. Blood Pressure
Research has indicated that probiotics can cause a modest reduction in your blood pressure.
Can I Take Probiotics for Weight Loss?
The short answer? Yes, you can.
Some studies have found that certain probiotics can inhibit the amount of fat and calories that your body absorbs and retains. Probiotics containing the strain Lactobacillus are likely the most beneficial for weight loss.
Some evidence points to the possibility that obesity is directly linked to inflammation in the brain, and by improving your gut health—by way of probiotics—you may effectively reduce the amount of inflammation as well.
We have also seen that probiotics may promote weight loss by releasing a hormone called GLP-1, which helps to reduce appetite and can help you burn calories and fat (5). Probiotics may also enhance weight loss by increasing the amount of protein ANGPTL4 (which may help decrease how much fat the body stores) (5).
In contrast to probiotics that can actually aid in weight loss, there have been studies that show some probiotics simply help in the prevention of weight gain, which certainly has benefits of its own (6).
Probiotic Strains, Explained
There are many different types of probiotic supplements, and it’s important to know the difference between them. Since a probiotic will contain specific bacteria strains, not all of them will work in the same way or manage the same problems.
Here is a short guide to help you find which probiotic will be most beneficial to you, listed with health issues they are shown to address (7)...
Lactobacillus acidophilus: Probiotic for yeast infections, gut issues, and acne
One of the most widely-used probiotics, Lactobacillus acidophilus seems to treat the largest range of issues. It’s even been shown to help those who suffer from lactose intolerance and decrease the likelihood of colon cancer.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus: Probiotic for eczema and antibiotic-related gut issues
This probiotic shows strong evidence to help curb diarrhea brought on by the use of antibiotics. Also, a promising study shows that women who used this probiotic strain while pregnant decreased the chances of their children developing atopic eczema, the most common form of eczema in children.
Lactobacillus plantarum: Probiotic for inflammation
Inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract seems to be greatly reduced by this strain of probiotic. It’s also been known to provide symptom relief for patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
Lactobacillus casei: Probiotic for brain function and digestion
In studies, this probiotic strain has been shown not only to provide patients with digestive support but also to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Bifidobacterium lactis: Probiotic for immune health
One of the most promising probiotics for your immune health is Bifidobacterium lactis. After a period of six weeks, this strain was shown to have raised the levels of antibodies in the patients that used it.
Bifidobacterium longum: Probiotic for digestion and brain health
It’s been shown that adults who take this probiotic along with milk or yogurt for only two weeks reported a decrease in constipation. Also, a report from University College Cork found that this strain contributed to lower stress levels and better memory.
Bifidobacterium bifidum: Probiotic for immune health and gastrointestinal support
Researchers have found that things like antibiotics, stress, and diet can all deplete the body of this good bacteria. However, this strain helps to regulate our body’s immune response, so replenishing our source of Bifidobacterium bifidum is highly beneficial. It’s further been shown to prevent pathogens from flourishing in our gut. Clinical research of this strain showed significant results in the reduction of irritable bowel symptoms, also.
Bifidobacterium breve: Probiotic for anti-aging and digestion
An incredible study discovered that this strain of probiotic can potentially prevent aging brought on by UV exposure. It has also been shown to decrease constipation symptoms in children with constipation.
Streptococcus thermophilus: Probiotic for skin health
Streptococcus thermophilus is shown to have a positive effect on the level of ceramides on our skin. Ceramides help keep our skin moisturized and youthful, and low levels of ceramides have been linked to damaged and dry skin.
Are There Probiotics in Foods or Drinks?
Foods that have been fermented begin by going through a process referred to as lactofermentation, or natural fermentation.
During this time, natural bacteria will feed on the sugars and starches in the food, creating lactic acid. This results in the production of various species of good bacteria and the promotion of enzymes, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins (8).
The most common fermented foods that contain probiotics are:
- Sourdough bread
- Some cheeses
It’s important to remember, however, that not all fermented foods contain probiotics. Some fermented foods, such as beer and wine, undergo a process that will remove probiotics. Other foods may be baked or canned and will have their probiotics stripped from them as well.
Potential Side Effects of Probiotics
Although uncommon, probiotics, like any supplement, can cause side effects for some people. Some users can react poorly to probiotic supplements or foods and experience the following (9):
- Gastrointestinal discomfort: The most common complaint is temporary gas and bloating. To reduce the likelihood of this occurring, you should begin by taking a low dose and slowly work your way up to a full dose over a period of a few weeks.
- Headaches: Headaches have been seen as a side effect in people who are eating fermented foods as their source of probiotics. Many probiotic foods contain a substance called biogenic amines, which form when protein-rich foods ferment. These amines are known to excite your nervous system, potentially triggering a headache.
- Increase in histamine levels: Some strains used in probiotic supplements can produce histamine inside your digestive tract. Histamine, which is made naturally by your body when it detects a threat, causes your blood vessels to dilate and become more permeable. This can sometimes cause redness or swelling and possibly trigger an allergic response.
- Allergy: If you’re thinking about taking a probiotic supplement, be sure to read the ingredients carefully. Some probiotics will contain dairy, soy, eggs, or yeast.
- Infection: Although rare, an infection can occur in some users. Those at the greatest risk are people who already have suppressed immune systems or have undergone recent surgery.
The Bottom Line
Probiotics are a natural solution to so many everyday symptoms that drag us down. Boosting your digestion, improving your metabolism, and curbing cravings are so much easier with the help of a probiotic supplement.
As a doctor of Physical Therapy, Senior Wellness Expert, and co-founder of NativePath, Dr. Walding has helped millions of people improve their quality of life from the inside out—by speaking, writing, and educating others on how to live life a little more #OnThePath.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.