What Are The Health Benefits of Probiotics for Women?

What Are The Health Benefits of Probiotics for Women?

by Andréanne Martin, Registered Dietitian
On

Probiotics may feel like old news. You can’t turn around without finding a product claiming it has probiotics in it to cure your ailments. It feels like probiotics have been around forever, but until 30 years ago, scientists weren’t aware of most of the microbes in our gut or how they affected each part of our body. Today, DNA studies have helped identify bacteria in our gut that affects not only our digestive but heart, brain, urinary tract, reproductive systems, and more. 

Science is starting to wake up to the differences in women’s health. Many of the medical issues women deal with can benefit from healthier gut bacteria. In this article, we’ll share the pros of probiotic capsules and drinkable probiotics and how they can help women specifically. 

What does a probiotic do for your body?

The role of a probiotic supplement is to keep the bacteria in your body balanced. Probiotics are microorganisms that live in your gut called “good” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy. Probiotics are in foods like yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso or supplements like the ones provided by Bio-K+®.

Good bacteria in your system keeps you healthy by supporting your immune system, and can reduce inflammation, help your body digest food, synthesize vitamins, and help prevent harmful bacteria from entering your blood system7. Learn more about what probiotics do to create a balanced gut here.

Is it okay to take a probiotic every day?

If you’re asking, “Should I take a probiotic every day?”, the answer is yes. As long as you consult with your physician about the probiotics you want to take first. 

There are many factors that influence the health of our gut. With only small changes to your diet, an illness, or additional medication, the balance of your gut can change, and harmful bacteria can cause you to feel worse. Taking a daily probiotic will keep the bacteria in your gut balanced.  

Why should a woman take probiotics?

Recent studies have shown the benefits of probiotics for women13 and how they can help address some of these issues and offer an affordable and safer treatment than was available before.

The most common probiotic use has been in dealing with digestive issues. Still, as we learn more about how our gut and the rest of our body are connected, science is discovering more ways probiotics can help fight common ailments affecting women. Learn more about the areas in your body that probiotics can help below.

Digestive Issues

An unbalanced digestive system is when “bad” bacteria takes over and could cause all sorts of digestive problems, including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Ulcerative Colitis 

However, an unhealthy gut microbiota is not the only cause of these conditions. 

Illness and bad diet choices can upset the balance of the bacteria in your gut, causing many of these digestive problems. Antibiotics provided by your doctor may also wreak havoc on the bacteria in your gut. Antibiotics are one of the most prescribed medicines in the United States. While antibiotics can successfully treat one illness, a common side effect is diarrhea. Doctors have started to prescribe probiotics along with antibiotics to counter this effect. 

Illness, diet, and antibiotics can kill the healthy bacteria in your gut and upset the balance leading to many of the digestive issues listed above. Probiotics lower the pH level in the colon and help keep our gut microbiota balanced, promote absorption of nutrients like vitamins and minerals and help with the synthesis of important vitamins7

Urinary Tract Infections

40 to 60% of women will experience a urinary tract infection at least once in their lifetime1. In many cases, this is a recurring problem and one that can spread to the kidneys and blood and become life-threatening if ignored. Recently, scientists found that probiotics can help keep the urinary tract healthy and free from harmful bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. A study in Ontario, Canada of Lactobacillus probiotics showed a significant decrease in urinary tract infection cases where this probiotic was present2.  

Vaginal Infections

Vaginal infections are equally troublesome to women. Yeast infections happen because of an abundance of the fungus Candida. While typically harmless, Candida can grow in abundance and throw your system off balance. Lactobacillus genus probiotic is naturally contained in the vagina and could help prevent Candida from growing out of control. If you’re suffering from a yeast infection, adding studied and specific probiotic strains of Lactobacillus to your diet may help end the infection and limit the recurrence of vaginal infections2. Consult with your physician about taking probiotics if you have a yeast infection.

Heart Health

Women’s heart health is the main reason for the American Heart Association’s Go Red Campaign that started years ago. According to their website, Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women and causes one in three deaths in women every year5. Because of this, doctors have started to study the impact of our gut health on heart disease and have found some interesting connections.

The blood pressure and the bacteria in our guts are connected, but further studies are needed to find how we can use that information to our benefit. Studies have shown probiotics lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure3. It is believed that certain lactic acid-producing bacteria may reduce cholesterol by breaking down bile in the gut8,9. This process prevents it from being reabsorbed in the gut and entering the bloodstream as cholesterol.

Mental Health Conditions

From puberty to age 50, women are about twice as likely as men to develop an anxiety disorder4. This fact has doctors looking into connections between the digestive system and mood and mental health. Science has shown us that microorganisms in the gut can help regulate brain function through something called the “gut-brain axis.” 

A lack of beneficial bacteria in your gut can cause anxiety, depression, memory loss, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Studies on mice and humans have found the use of certain probiotic Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains improved anxiety and depression10. MRI images have also shown that people taking probiotics had changes in their brain to places involving mood. While none of these studies were conclusive, doctors are taking the connection seriously and prescribing probiotics for several of their patients

Lose Weight and Belly Fat

Healthier women may ask why they should take probiotics if they don’t suffer from any digestive, heart, or mental illnesses. Many women are taking probiotics to help with weight loss and continue on the healthy track they’ve started in other areas of their life. Some studies reported that certain specific strains of probiotics modulate the gut flora to elicit beneficial metabolic effects and reduce the absorption of dietary fat in the intestine.11. Researchers found that dieting women who took Lactobacillus rhamnosus for three months lost 50% more weight than the women who didn’t take the probiotic3. In another study, 210 people discovered that taking even low doses of Lactobacillus gasseri for 12 weeks yielded an 8.5% reduction of belly fat12.

What is the best probiotic for women?

As you can see, the benefits of probiotics for women are vast and can help with several issues women deal with on a regular basis, so why isn’t everyone already taking them? The problem comes with too many choices. Probiotics have become big business, and the benefits of taking a probiotic can range with the quality of the product. Freeze-dried probiotics like powders, capsules, and tablets are common, but much of the benefit gets lost in the digestive track on the way to the gut. There is also a problem of not getting enough bacterial concentration in a probiotic. Probiotics are measured in colony-forming units (CFUs). Doctors recommend taking ten million to one billion colony-forming units (CFU) a day for a general gut6. More CFUs are needed to regain a healthy gut after recovering from an illness.   

Bio-K+® drinkable products contain 50 billion CFU bacteria per 3.5 fl. Oz. bottle, which makes it ideal for building a healthier gut. Bio-K+® also uses fresh products that are processed with a substrate of milk, soy, or rice that provide nourishments and additional protection.

Conclusion

Along with digestive health problems, “bad” bacteria in our gut can cause problems with our urinary tract, reproductive system, heart, and mental health. Probiotics can be a simple solution to help women deal with some of these issues. 

Scientists all agree it’s essential to pick the right strain of probiotics to help with your health difficulties. Bio-K+® products have been scientifically studied and include a patented combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285®, Lactobacillus casei LBC80R®, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus CLR2®. These three strains work together to balance the bacteria in your gut and keep you healthy.

Bio-K+® believes that even healthy individuals can benefit from taking probiotics daily. We recommend taking ¼ of our drinkable products daily to keep a healthy gut. For those with intestinal or other digestive health issues, you can take anywhere from ½ to all of our drinkable probiotic every day to balance your gut and build a healthy body.

 -

Sources:

1) Franco, Anna Virginia M. “Recurrent urinary tract infections.” Best practice & research. Clinical obstetrics & gynaecology vol. 19,6 (2005): 861-73. doi:10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2005.08.003, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16298166/

2) “Lactobacillus for Preventing Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Women: Meta-Analysis” PubMed.govhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23433130/.

3) Sanchez, Marina et al. “Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women.” The British journal of nutrition vol. 111,8 (2014): 1507-19. doi:10.1017/S0007114513003875, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24299712/

4) “Women and Anxiety” Anxiety and Depression Association of Americahttps://adaa.org/find-help-for/women/anxiety.

5) “Go Red for Women®” American Heart Associationhttps://www.goredforwomen.org/.

6) “Probiotics and CFUs: How Many is Enough? Humarianhttps://humarian.com/probiotics-and-cfus-how-many-is-enough/.

7) El Kaoutari, Abdessamad et al. “Le microbiote intestinal et la digestion des polysaccharides” [Gut microbiota and digestion of polysaccharides]. Medecine sciences : M/S vol. 30,3 (2014): 259-65. doi:10.1051/medsci/20143003013, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24685216/

8) Begley, Máire et al. “Bile salt hydrolase activity in probiotics.” Applied and environmental microbiology vol. 72,3 (2006): 1729-38. doi:10.1128/AEM.72.3.1729-1738.2006, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16517616/

9) Kumar, Manoj et al. “Cholesterol-lowering probiotics as potential biotherapeutics for metabolic diseases.” Experimental diabetes research vol. 2012 (2012): 902917. doi:10.1155/2012/902917, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3352670/

10) Wang, Huiying et al. “Effect of Probiotics on Central Nervous System Functions in Animals and Humans: A Systematic Review.” Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility vol. 22,4 (2016): 589-605. doi:10.5056/jnm16018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5056568/

11) Yadav, Hariom et al. “Beneficial metabolic effects of a probiotic via butyrate-induced GLP-1 hormone secretion.” The Journal of biological chemistry vol. 288,35 (2013): 25088-97. doi:10.1074/jbc.M113.452516, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3757173/

12) Kadooka, Yukio et al. “Effect of Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 in fermented milk on abdominal adiposity in adults in a randomised controlled trial.” The British journal of nutrition vol. 110,9 (2013): 1696-703. doi:10.1017/S0007114513001037, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23614897/

13) Homayouni, Aziz et al. “Effects of probiotics on the recurrence of bacterial vaginosis: a review.” Journal of lower genital tract disease vol. 18,1 (2014): 79-86. doi:10.1097/LGT.0b013e31829156ec, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24299970/


Andréanne Martin
About the author
Andréanne Martin, Registered Dietitian
Andréanne Martin is a dietitian and nutritionist who drives projects that enable her to promote healthy lifestyles in order to help as many people as possible to feel better.
View all articles by Andréanne Martin

Read more articles