Probiotics

3 Reasons Women Need Probiotics

3 Reasons Women Need Probiotics (Plus the Most Important Strains to Use)

Biotics are tiny living creatures that call your body “home.” They can also be found throughout nature living their microscopic lives on plants, and animals. However, not all biotics are created equal, and in fact there are many types of microbiota that can cause your overall health some harm. These types of biotics include strains of microbacteria like E. coli, which can grow into large colonies, and become pathogenic (infectious).1 Today, researchers know more than ever about the lives of the microscopic bugs in your body called biotics. These biotics can be found in large numbers primarily in your GI tract totaling an estimated 100 trillion+.2  

That’s a lot of gut bugs! But that’s not the only place you can find microbiotics. They can also be found living in your mouth, on your skin, as well as in female genitalia. There, if they are all balanced, and happy you will not notice any health issue however, that’s not always an easy task. You see, these little buggers eat everything that you eat which means that if you are like most Americans that includes what is on the Standard American Diet (SAD) menu. This includes large amounts of factory farmed meat, dairy, low-quality filler oils, sugar as well as refined, processed carbohydrates, junk food, and of course fast food. All foods that the harmful species of microbacteria love to eat, too!3 Now, if you are following the SAD it is highly likely that you are also growing large colonies of potentially pathogenic microbacteria inside your gut. Studies have confirmed that harmful strains of biotics eat sugar, omega-6 oils (filler oil), as well as highly refined carbohydrates.4  

lactobacillus acidophilus family, vector illustration. Good bacteria microorganism isolated on white background.

Scientists have also found that an imbalance in gut microbacteria can lead to an increased risk of developing serious health problems including that of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypersensitivity to allergies.5  

While these health problems affect both men, and women, there are some concerns that apply specifically to women. 

3 Reasons Women Need Probiotics (more than men!) 

  1. Microbiome Balance.Scientists call the trillions of microbacteria living in your gut the “microbiome.” Many women suffer with digestive issues due to an imbalance inside the microbiome however, it can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss. Today, strains of probiotic microbacteria have been shown to help re-balance the microbiome. This has been clinically validated to reduce common symptoms of irritable bowels including abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, and irregular bowel movements.6  
  2. Proper Vaginal Function.Vaginal infections affect the quality of life of many women. However, today researchers have found that overgrowth of yeasts, and bacteria in the vagina are positively affected by strains of probiotic bacteria. In one study, scientists found that women suffering with yeast infections showed promising results in reducing the infection as well as it’s recurrences in participants.7  
  3. Immune Support.You may not realize it, but a good portion of your immune system lies inside your gut. Because gut bacteria are charged with maintaining a strong, and healthy intestinal barrier allowing an overgrowth of pathogenic species can cause a range of health problems, including a loss of immunity. One study showed that the consumption of probiotic bacterial strains from the Lactobacillus family were associated with a reduced risk of common infections of the cold.8  

What Are the Most Important Strains of Biotics for Women? 

While scientists know that technically all of your biotic strains are needed to maintain good health there are some strains that play a specific role in women’s health. Here are the 5 most important probiotics for women (listed by strain): 

  • Lactobaccilus rhamnosusThis is a strain of microbacteria that is one of the most popular among the scientific community. Demonstrated to be one of the most effective strains to support women’s health, Lactobaccilus rhamnosus has been shown to effectively colonize in the vagina to increase microbial defense against pathogenic strains.9  

This strain was also shown in another clinical trial to reduce recurring urinary tract infections from an average of 6 to 1.6 infections per year.10

Researchers suggest that the efficacy of L. rhamnosus could be due to its ability to adhere so well to the walls of the vagina, and thus protect against any pathogenic species from clinging there, and causing an infection.11 

  • Lactobaccilus reuteriThis is a strain of probiotic bacteria that has been shown to offer many health benefits to its host including the rare ability to produce an energy-boosting vitamin called B12 that also promotes proper brain, and nervous system function.12 

As one of the world’s most documented strains of beneficial probiotic bacteria for women’s health, L. reuteri has been shown to reduce adherence of pathogenic species of biotics to the walls of the bladder, intestines, and the vagina.13 

  • Lactobaccilus fermentumAlso a popular strain in women’s health, L. fermentum has been shown in clinical trials as one of the best strains to restore a healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina – even if there is a bacterial overgrowth of pathogenic species!14  

In another study, researchers found that L. fermentum was just one strain associated with a positive influence on mental functions including that of a good mood, and cognition.15 

  • Lactobaccilus gasseriThis strain of probiotic microbacteria is known as a great aid in weight loss!16 In one study, L. gasseri was shown to be an effective way to burn off one type of fat that tends to linger around your mid-section called belly fat, or visceral fat.17 

Other studies have confirmed this positive effect on body fat loss. In one trial, L. gasseri was shown to deliver significant results in weight loss with an average loss of 4.6 pounds of belly fat, and 3.3% fat loss overall – in just 12 weeks! In the same study body weight, and Body Mass Index (BMI) were also shown to significantly drop with an average of 1.5% in participants.18  

  • Bifidobacterium lactisThis probiotic bacteria is a woman’s friend! In one study this strain was suggested as an effective way to reduce skin problems in infants. Results showed that infants who consumed a supplement of B. lactis experienced a reduction in dry, itchy skin – an infant health concern associated with bacterial imbalance of the skin.19  

For women, probiotics take on a different face than for men. While beneficial strains of probiotics are needed by everyone (male, or female), specific types of these helpful little buggers can make a world of difference in women’s health issues. So, talk to your doctor about developing a Probiotics Guide to good health. They can help you discover which strains are right for your health concerns so you can regain your microbiome balance, and eliminate any pathogenic strains calling you “home.”  

References: 

  1. Jason Lloyd-Price,GalebAbu-Ali. The healthy human microbiome. Genome Med. 2016; 8: 51. 
  2. Luke KUrsell, Jessica L Metcalf. Defining the Human Microbiome.Nutr Rev. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2013 Feb 1. 
  3. Standard American Diet. NutritionFacts.org.
  4. Kirsty Brown, DaniellaDeCoffe. Diet-Induced Dysbiosis of the Intestinal Microbiota and the Effects on Immunity and Disease. Nutrients. 2012 Aug; 4(8): 1095–1119.
  5. Matthew J. Bull, BSc, PhD, Nigel T. Plummer, PhD. Part 1: The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease.IntegrMed (Encinitas). 2014 Dec; 13(6): 17–22. 
  6. RiittaKorpela, Leena Niittynen. Probiotics and irritable bowel syndrome. Microb Ecol Health Dis. 2012; 23. 
  7. FalagasME, Betsi GI. Probiotics for prevention of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: a review. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2006 Aug;58(2):266-72. Epub 2006 Jun 21. 
  8. Berggren A,LazouAhrén I. Randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled study using new probiotic lactobacilli for strengthening the body immune defence against viral infections. Eur J Nutr. 2011 Apr;50(3):203-10. 
  9. KirjavainenPV, Laine RM. Expression of anti-microbial defense factors in vaginal mucosa following exposure to Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1. International Journal of Probiotics and Prebiotics. 2008;3:99–106. 
  10. Reid G, Bruce AW. Instillation of Lactobacillus and stimulation of indigenous organisms to prevent recurrence of urinary tract infections. Microecology and Therapy.1995;23:32–45.
  11. SarahCribby, Michelle Taylor. Vaginal Microbiota and the Use of Probiotics.Interdiscip Perspect Infect Dis. 2008; 2008: 256490. 
  12. Maddalena Rossi, AlbertoAmaretti. Folate Production by Probiotic Bacteria. Nutrients. 2011 Jan; 3(1): 118–134.
  13. Probiotics for Women’s Health: The Story of LactobacillusRhamnosusGR-1 and Lactobacillus Reuteri RC-14. Canadian Research and Development Centre for Probiotics. 
  14. P. Mastromarino,S.Macchiaa. Effectiveness of Lactobacillus-containing vaginal tablets in the treatment of symptomatic bacterial vaginosis. Clinical Microbiology and Infection Volume 15, Issue 1, January 2009, Pages 67-74.
  15. Elmira Akbari,ZatollahAsemi. Effect of Probiotic Supplementation on Cognitive Function and Metabolic Status in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Randomized, Double-Blind and Controlled Trial. Front Aging Neurosci. 2016; 8: 256. 
  16. NazariiKobyliak, Caterina Conte. Probiotics in prevention and treatment of obesity: a critical view. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2016; 13: 14. 
  17. Effect of LactobacillusgasseriSBT2055 in fermented milk on abdominal adiposity in adults in a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition. Volume 110, Issue 9 14 November 2013 , pp. 1696-1703. 
  18. NazariiKobyliak, Caterina Conte. Probiotics in prevention and treatment of obesity: a critical view. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2016; 13: 14. 
  19. Gore C,CustovicA. Treatment and secondary prevention effects of the probiotics Lactobacillus paracasei or Bifidobacterium lactis on early infant eczema: randomized controlled trial with follow-up until age 3 years. Clin Exp Allergy. 2012 Jan;42(1):112-22.