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During recent years, probiotics have been well-documented for their many health benefits. From easing digestive issues to clearing up skin issues, probiotics offer a host of wellness benefits for men, women, and children.
Men, however, face unique health needs. Conditions such as prostate issues or reduced testosterone levels can wreak havoc on men’s health.
And with those idiosyncratic health conditions comes the chance for probiotics to provide benefits that affect men, specifically.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these benefits and explore just how they work.
What Are Probiotics?
Before we get into the benefits of probiotics, let’s take a closer look at what they are.
Probiotics are live bacteria that you consume.
Now, that may seem like exactly the opposite of what you want. After all, you’ve probably spent years taking antibiotics or natural remedies to eliminate bacteria whenever you get sick.
But you don’t want to eliminate all of the bacteria, and we’ll explain why.
Good Bacteria Vs. Bad Bacteria
Your body, like everyone else’s, contains bacteria…and not just when you’re sick. Even when you’re perfectly healthy, your body is filled with trillions of microorganisms, including yeast, fungi, and bacteria. The bacteria are all over you, in your ears, mouth, and throat, on your skin, in and around your sexual organs, and in your gut.
But here’s the kicker: you actually want some of those bacteria—especially the ones in your gut!
These aren’t the bacteria that your kids bring home from school or that you’ll find on handrails on the subway.
Instead, some of these bacteria are beneficial (“good”) bacteria. They have a positive, healthy impact on your wellbeing.
Of course, not all bacteria are beneficial; some are pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria.
The key to maintaining your health is having the right balance of bacteria, with more of the good ones than the bad ones.
Your gut microbiome, where both the beneficial and pathogenic bacteria live, has a limited amount of space. When the colonies of good bacteria are strong and flourishing, they’ll take up more of that precious real estate and crowd out the bad bacteria.
Unfortunately, the opposite is much more likely to be the case. The pathogenic bacteria take over your gut microbiome, causing dysbiosis—an imbalanced gut microbiome.
Dysbiosis is incredibly common. And because its symptoms are easily brushed off, at first, it’s not something that most people notice. You could even have dysbiosis right now, without even realizing it!
Signs of Dysbiosis
As we mentioned, the signs of dysbiosis often start off as minor inconveniences or mild discomforts. You might even be tempted to attribute them to other issues.
For example, you might blame anxiety on relationship troubles or digestive issues on overindulging in unhealthy foods.
But experiencing several symptoms at once is a sure sign of possible dysbiosis.
Some of the initial signs of dysbiosis include:
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Anxiety or depression
- Chronic fatigue
- Digestive issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea
- Food intolerances
- Joint aches
- Skins conditions, including acne or psoriasis
- Stomach cramps
- Trouble concentrating; ADHD
- Trouble urinating
If you experience any of these for several days, you should talk to a physician to treat your dysbiosis before it develops into something more serious.
Left untreated, dysbiosis can lead to chronic conditions such as:
- Allergic disorders
- Colorectal cancer
- Crohn’s Disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Ulcerative Colitis
If you think you’re experiencing any of these, you should see a doctor immediately. They can help you decide on the best course of treatment for these conditions as well as your dysbiosis.
Why You Need Probiotics
Now that you’ve read the harmful effects that come from an imbalanced gut, you can see why it’s so important to have a healthy gut microbiome.
And that’s where probiotics come in.
Taking probiotics is one of the most effective ways of rebalancing your gut.
When you consume probiotics, they join forces with the good gut bacteria, adding to their strength and numbers. This helps the colonies of beneficial bacteria to thrive, crowding out the bad bacteria.
The Benefits of Probiotics for Men
Aside from driving away pathogenic bacteria, probiotics have a number of additional benefits for your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Treat Digestive Issues
As we described when we discussed dysbiosis, one of its main short-term symptoms is digestive issues. When you begin to take probiotics, your beneficial bacteria increases, your gut rebalances, and your digestive issues will start to improve.
Take one of the most common digestive issues: diarrhea.
Taking antibiotics is one of the most common causes of diarrhea because of the way the medication interferes with the bacterial balance in your gut. Studies show that probiotics are an effective way to prevent or treat antibiotics-associated diarrhea.
Diarrhea can also be caused by an infection. In this case, a review of 35 studies showed that probiotics can shorten the duration of diarrhea by an average of 25 hours.
Improve Mental Health
Men’s mental health issues have become a hot-button topic in recent years.
- Reports show that men are less likely to seek treatment for mental illness, yet are more likely than women to die by suicide.
- 49% of men are more depressed than they would admit to their family and friends.
Clearly, then, mental health is something that a large number of men grapple with, and it needs to be addressed in any discussion about overall wellbeing.
But how does this tie into your gut bacteria?
Your gut and brain use the vagus nerve to “talk” to each other as part of the gut-brain axis. Signals from your brain can affect your stomach. For example, you may have butterflies on a first date or feel sick at the thought of speaking in front of a crowd.
Your gut also sends messages to your brain. Having an upset stomach can cause social anxiety, if you’re worried about having to find a restroom.
Because of how well they communicate, a healthy gut equals a healthy brain, and vice versa. So when you take probiotics to improve your gut microbiome, you’re also improving your mental health.
Other ways in which probiotics can improve your mental health includes:
- Boosting your mood
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Improving cognitive function
Boost Immune Response
Roughly 70% to 80% of your immune system is found in your gut. When your gut is “off,” so is your immune response. On the flip side, when your gut is balanced, it strengthens your immune system.
And, studies have shown that probiotics also encourage the production of natural antibodies and boost immune cells.
Probiotics can also help reduce inflammation, which is an immune response to harmful stimuli. By creating a healthier, more diverse gut microbiome, probiotics reduce gut wall permeability. This makes it more difficult for inflammation-causing toxins and pathogens to leak into your bloodstream.
Guard Prostate Health
Prostate issues are a major concern for most men. 13 out 100 men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, and 2 to 3 of every 100 men will die from prostate cancer.
Prostate issues are also another important reason why men should take probiotics.
Numerous studies show that probiotics reduce the load of two types of bacteria: E. coli and E. faecalis. This can help prevent prostatitis—swelling of the prostate—which can cause more serious prostate issues.
Raise Testosterone Levels
Probiotics also support healthy male sexual and reproductive function.
Testosterone is one of the main sexual hormones in men. Unfortunately, cortisol (the stress hormone) suppresses testosterone. Since probiotics lower stress, they also reduce the production of cortisol, which in turn increases testosterone levels.
Higher testosterone levels also improve male sexual health by raising sperm count. Studies show that men taking probiotics have a much higher sperm count and healthier sperm.
As men age, they have a tendency to put on weight, possibly exacerbated by the lower testosterone levels. Probiotics can help weight management in a number of different ways.
- One study showed that participants taking a probiotic experienced an 8.5% reduction in belly fat in just three months.
- Probiotics raise the level of hormones such as GLP-1. These hormones help you feel full longer and store less fat.
- Another study showed that probiotics inhibit the absorption of dietary fat in your intestine, eliminating them instead of storing them.
Balance Blood Sugar Levels
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. This means that men should be extra concerned about their blood sugar levels.
Clinical trials show that taking probiotics regularly can help keep blood sugar within an acceptable range.
Another study showed that taking probiotics could help lower insulin levels, reducing your likelihood of fluctuating blood sugar and diabetes.
By better managing your blood sugar levels, you’re reducing your risk for developing type 2 diabetes as you age.
Where to Get Probiotics
As you can see, making sure you get enough probiotics plays a key role in your overall health. Luckily, they can be found in most grocery stores (in the form of foods and drinks) or pharmacies (in the form of supplements) quite easily.
The first way to consume probiotics is to choose probiotic-friendly food and drinks.
Some of the most popular probiotic choices include:
One key thing to remember about probiotic foods: the items on this list have gone through fermentation. This leaves them with a tangy, sour flavor that not everyone likes.
If that’s the situation you’ve found yourself in, you can rely on supplements for your probiotic boost.
For a quicker and more effective probiotic boost, the probiotic supplements found in almost any pharmacy or online store are your best option.
Probiotic supplements can come in liquid, pill, or powder form. Each manufacturer is unique, so make sure you read their instructions for proper dosage and consumption guidelines.
Our favorite is this one from Just Thrive. The spore-based probiotic is encased in a tough, armor-like shell, which protects it on its journey through your digestive system. It arrives at its new “home” in your gut microbiome fully alive and ready to get to work.
Anyone can benefit from probiotics—men, women, and children. Their well-documented impacts on the gut microbiome make them a shoo-in for almost any healthy diet.
However, men have their own set of health concerns, some of which are unique to their gender (boosting testosterone, preventing prostate issues). Probiotics can help prevent or treat these issues before they worsen and possibly become a serious medical problem.
Whether you choose to consume your probiotic in your foods and beverages or in a supplement, one thing remains constant: probiotics offer a wealth of benefits, and should form part of every man’s wellness routine.
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