7 Men-Specific Health Benefits of Probiotics
Probiotics are so beneficial for health and well-being, you'd be hard pressed to find a segment of the population they can't support––they're great for adults and children, they help mothers pass on balanced starter microbiomes to their babies, and they even keep our pets healthy!
Some of their benefits are universal, no matter your age or gender: supporting gut health, healthy skin, weight management, and strong teeth. But gender-specific probiotic benefits also exist. For instance, women who take probiotic supplements may be more likely to maintain vaginal and breast health, and expecting mothers who take probiotics can get support with some of the less pleasant side effects of pregnancy.
The same is true for men––probiotics can help maintain health in the face of conditions that disproportionately affect men, as well as support some of the physical systems specific to their bodies.
7 Ways Probiotics Support Men's Health
While we're all much more alike biologically than people tend to think, certain conditions do affect men more often, whether because of physical or cultural factors. Fortunately, probiotics for men can help with many of these issues, including:
1. Heart Health
Cardiovascular health is a major concern for men in Western societies. While some of the main challenges to maintaining a healthy heart (like excessive drinking and smoking) aren’t nearly as widespread as they once were, unwanted changes in heart function are still one of the most common reasons for men to need emergency medical care.1 But taking probiotics can help you keep your heart firing on all cylinders, even as you age.
While it might seem a little out of left field to correlate probiotics with heart health (after all, what do bacteria have to do with your heart?), they’re actually closely connected. Research shows that taking probiotic supplements regularly can help you maintain good cholesterol, as well as help keep your blood pressure at healthy levels.2
What's more, people who have serious heart issues commonly have S. mutans in their heart valves—this is an undesirable type of bacteria that’s actually more often found in the mouth. If your oral microbiome is in balance, S. mutans are normally kept in control by more beneficial species, but if things get out of balance, they can reproduce and make their way into your bloodstream via openings in your gums, compromising your cardiovascular function.3
2. Lung Health
Though rates of serious lung issues have been dropping among men in the Western world, they're still a major concern, with over three million men affected by ongoing respiratory conditions.1 While steroids and antibiotics are the go-to treatments for these conditions, they often fail to address the underlying issue, and they destroy bacteria indiscriminately, creating conditions in which undesirable bacteria can thrive.
This makes it harder for your immune system to work properly and leaves you open to feeling under the weather unnecessarily. The good news is that taking probiotics can help replenish your gut microbiome, and since 80% of your immune system is in your gut, this inevitably has a very supportive effect on your immunity. Probiotics also specifically support your mucosal immune systems, found in your ear, nose, and throat area and your lungs, helping you to maintain respiratory health.4
3. Blood Sugar Levels
Uncontrolled changes in blood sugar levels or a decreased ability to regulate insulin can have serious effects on your overall health, and since far more men than women are at risk for these changes, these issues are well worth paying attention to.5 Research indicates that regularly taking probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can help your body maintain blood sugar levels already within a normal range, whether you're simply at risk for insulin-related challenges or you're already experiencing them.
In fact, studies indicate that just one month of taking a probiotic that includes L. reuteri can support blood sugar levels already within a normal range; researchers have also found that eating yogurt containing L. acidophilus and B. lactis for six weeks can help to maintain blood sugar levels in a healthy range.6,7
4. Hormone Levels
We don’t normally think of the gut when it comes to the endocrine system, but it actually plays a huge role in supporting balanced hormones. One of the most important functions it plays in men is helping to regulate the production of oxytocin.
While you may be familiar with oxytocin as the “love” hormone, it also maintains the production of testosterone in men and has a number of functions for supporting health, including maintaining a healthy libido and supporting the development of male characteristics.8
Of course, your gut microbiome can only do this when it’s healthy and in balance, which is where probiotics come in. Since so many factors can deplete your beneficial bacteria—including everything from exposure to antibiotics in food or medication to spending too much time inside—supplementing with a premium probiotic is almost always necessary to maintain balance.
Probiotics can also have a more direct effect in supporting optimal testosterone levels—one study demonstrated that supplementing with L. reuteri may help encourage reproductive health and fertility.9
5. Yeast Imbalances and Urinary Health
Taking probiotics can also help keep your urinary system working properly. While you might think that yeast imbalances or urinary tract issues are primarily women's problems, both are common in men as well, especially in those whose bacterial balance is off-kilter. Taking probiotics can help address these issues by encouraging the growth of good bacteria to crowd out unwanted yeast.10
Maintaining a balanced gut microbiome can also help stop urinary tract issues before they start, as many such problems arise when E. coli migrates from your gut to your urinary tract. Taking probiotics regularly can help keep populations of unwanted bacteria under control so there’s less of a chance of them causing problems elsewhere.11
6. Bone Health
Changes in bone density are common in older men, and they can actually be much more serious than similar changes in older women, as men typically have a harder time bouncing back from these types of problems.12,13
But before you start reaching for the calcium supplements, there may be a more effective way to support your bone health. Like many other parts of the body, the health of your bones is closely tied to the health of your gut, especially your intestines. Temporary intestinal inflammation can trigger an immune response in which your body releases interleukins, proteins that have an immune function but also absorb bone tissue. If the temporary inflammation remains unaddressed, these molecules can take a toll on your bones, eventually weakening them.14
However, studies indicate that taking probiotics can help support your bones' rebuilding process. Strains like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium both help keep your gut microbiome in balance to support balanced immune responses and help your body to absorb and use the minerals needed to maintain strong bones.15
7. Mental Health
It's not entirely clear how many men struggle with low moods or anxious thoughts, as mental health changes in men are widely underreported, but we do know that these issues are widespread, with over 6 million men reporting mood struggles each year.16 While a number of factors play into mental health, one that people often forget about is the gut.
Research indicates that the gut and brain are in constant communication, and the health of your gut can have a big, supportive impact on your mental health and well-being.17 One reason is the role the gut microbiome plays in maintaining your hormones––in addition to oxytocin, your beneficial bacteria also support your levels of serotonin (the "happy hormone), and cortisol (which is associated with high stress levels).18 They also help encourage GABA, an important neurotransmitter that determines how your body responds to stress. When you support your microbiome with probiotics, it can help to keep everything balanced, but if it becomes unbalanced and unwanted bacteria take over, you can end up with a low mood and anxious thoughts.19
Supplementing with probiotics can also maintain your blood sugar levels already in a normal range to support stable moods, and it can encourage healthy levels of glutathione, an antioxidant clinically studied to reduce bouts of the blues.20
Make the Most of Your Probiotics for Men
Probiotics are clearly incredibly supportive, but they can't do their work alone. To make sure that you're getting the most out of your microbes, it's important that you give them the support they need to work. You've got lots of options for supporting your gut health, from dietary changes to probiotic supplementation, but make sure you're at least covering the following bases.
• Stay active. Exercise can increase the amount of beneficial bacteria in your system by up to 40%, so make sure you're hitting the gym, joining in on pick up games with friends, running, or finding some way to move as often as possible.
• Get outside as much as you can. Spending time in nature is one of the best ways to support your microbiome, since it exposes you to all kinds of new bacteria and increases your microbial diversity. Try going camping, playing with the kids in the yard, or just taking a walk a little more often.
• Avoid things that deplete your microbiome. You don't want to undermine the efforts of your good guys by doing things that destroy them or support the not-so-good guys, so avoid overusing antibiotics, don't overdo it on the sanitizing, and try switching out your normal cookout fare for organic meat and produce (it tastes much better anyway!).
• Get enough fiber. Just like you, your microbes have to eat––and their favorite food is prebiotic fiber. Try upping your fiber intake by adding some prebiotic powder into a protein shake or even mixing it into your coffee on your way out the door.
Taking better care of your health really can be as simple as supplementing with premium probiotics for men, like Hyperbiotics PRO-Men—with six targeted probiotic strains and curcumin phytosome to support energy levels, stamina, and digestive, immune, heart, eye, and prostate health in men.
Did you find this article helpful and want to know even more about probiotics? Then consider checking How do probiotics work.
1. World Health Organization. (2014). International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10). Geneva: The World Health Organization.
2. Jones, M. L., Martoni, C. J., & Prakash, S. (2012). Cholesterol lowering and inhibition of sterol absorption by Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242: a randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66(11), 1234-1241.
3. Ebel, B., Lemetais, G., Beney, L., Cachon, R, Sokol., H. . . . Gervais, P. (2014). Impact of Probiotics on Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Diseases: A Review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 54(2), 175-89. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.579361
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8. Poutahidis, T., Kearney, S. M., Levkovich, T., Qi, P., Varian, B. J., Lakritz, J. R., . . . Erdman, S. E. (2013). Microbial Symbionts Accelerate Wound Healing via the Neuropeptide Hormone Oxytocin. PLoS ONE, 8(10).
9. Poutahidis, T., Springer, A., Levkovich, T., Qi, P., Varian, B. J., Lakritz, J. R., . . . Erdman, S. E. (2014). Probiotic Microbes Sustain Youthful Serum Testosterone Levels and Testicular Size in Aging Mice. PLoS ONE, 9(1). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084877
10. Köhler, G.A., Assefa, S., Reid, G. (2012). Probiotic Interference of Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus Reuteri RC-14 with the Opportunistic Fungal Pathogen Candida Albicans. Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology. doi: 10.1155/2012/636474
11. Borchert, D., Sheridan, L., Papatsoris, A., Faruquz, Z. Barua, J.M. . . . Buchholz, N. (2008). Prevention and Treatment of Urinary Tract Infection with Probiotics: Review and Research Perspective. Indian Journal of Urology, 24(2), 139–144.
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14. McCabe, L.R., Irwin, R., Schaefer, L, Britton, R.A. (2013). Probiotic Use Decreases Intestinal Inflammation and Increases Bone Density in Healthy Male but not Female Mice. Journal of Cellular Physiology, 228(8), 1793-8. doi: 10.1002/jcp.24340
15. Parvaneh, K., Jamaluddin, R., Golgis, K., Erfani, R. (2014). Effect of Probiotics Supplementation on Bone Mineral Content and Bone Mass Density. The Scientific World Journal. doi: 10.1155/2014/595962
16. National Institutes of Mental Health. (2003). Real Men. Real Depression. Bethesda: The National Institutes of Mental Health.
17.Arck, P., Handjiski, B., Hagen, E., Pincus, M. . . . Paus, R. (2010). Is There a Gut-Brain-Skin Axis? Experimental Dermatology, 19(5), 401-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0625.2009.01060.x
18. Bravo, J. A., Forsythe, P., Chew, M. V., Escaravage, E., Savignac, H. M., Dinan, T. G., . . . Cryan, J. F. (2011). Ingestion of Lactobacillus Strain Regulates Emotional Behavior and Central GABA Receptor Expression in a Mouse via the Vagus Nerve.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(38), 16050-16055.
19. Oudenhove, L. V., Mckie, S., Lassman, D., Uddin, B., Paine, P., Coen, S., . . . Aziz, Q. (2011). Fatty Acid–Induced Gut-Brain Signaling Attenuates Neural and Behavioral Effects of Sad Emotion in Humans. Journal of Clinical Investigation,121(8), 3094-3099. doi:10.1172/jci46380
20. Akkasheh, G., Kashani-Poor, Z., Tajabadi-Ebrahimi, M., Jafari, P., Akbari, H., Taghizadeh, M., . . . Esmaillzadeh, A. (2016). Clinical and Metabolic Response to Probiotic Administration in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial. Nutrition, 32(3), 315-320.
Rachel Allen is a writer at Hyperbiotics who's absolutely obsessed with learning about how our bodies work. She's fascinated by the latest research on bacteria and the role they play in health, and loves to help others learn about how probiotics can help the body get back in balance. For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. To learn more about how a healthy microbiome can enrich your life, subscribe to our newsletter.
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