Probiotics are becoming famous lately, receiving much more attention than years past. More scientific data is made available about the benefits of adding good bacteria to your gut every year.
There are already billions of them in your digestive tract, but what you really need is quality over quantity. That’s why supplements with different probiotics are now sold in many forms and presentations.
These probiotic supplements were formerly used to treat certain types of diarrhea. They are also appropriate to counter the side effects of antibiotics. But will you benefit from probiotics on a day-to-day basis?
In this article, we’re diving through the topic and showing you 14 benefits of probiotics for men’s health.
Why Men Need Different Probiotics
One of the challenges of researching probiotics is the wide variety of species. Each strand has different features and metabolic pathways. Some of them synthesize vitamins (folate, vitamin K, and others).
You have species that aid in digestion while others create anti-inflammatory substances. And then, most of them prevent infectious diseases in the digestive tube, but some are particularly useful to restore the gut microbiota.
That’s why supplements with multiple probiotics are always better than one or two species. You will have different types working in your favor, each one playing their part. This is particularly important for males because not all probiotics offer a special benefit over testosterone levels or prostate health (1).
If you keep reading, you will find out what probiotic species are better for you, depending on the benefits you’re looking for.
Benefits of Probiotics
For the last decade, more and more evidence suggests a deep connection between the digestive system and the rest of the body. More than absorbing nutrients, the digestive system gives many signals to other organs. The brain, the immune system, and some glands are connected to the gut via multiple signaling substances.
For educative purposes, we are breaking down the benefits of probiotics in 15 sections:
1) Replenish The Good Bacteria in Your Gut
One of the primary purposes of probiotics is replenishing good bacteria in the gut. This bacterial environment is also known as the gut microbiota. This space is full of bacteria, and that is actually a good thing. What we don’t want is pathogenic or disease-causing bacteria around. They trigger a variety of diseases and symptoms.
The most common is diarrhea, but research shows that harmful bacteria are associated with a chronic and degenerative disease, too. Pathogenic bacteria can trigger many gastrointestinal symptoms, especially in cases of inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract.
By taking up the available space in the large intestines, healthy bacteria won’t allow infection by disease-causing bacteria. That is one of the reasons why you want to replenish good bacteria in your gut (1,2).
2) Can Help with Diarrhea
Historically, one of the first medical indications of probiotics was as an aid to treat or prevent diarrhea. They are particularly useful when diarrhea is a side effect of antibiotics. Prolonged use of antibiotics, using multiple antibiotics simultaneously, or receiving very high doses can destroy beneficial bacteria in your gut. They are no longer protecting you from pathogenic bacteria, and they can get in.
A popular and sometimes very severe bacteria in these cases is Clostridium difficile. This bacterium is particularly common in patients who underwent aggressive antibiotic therapy. But evidence shows that probiotics during antibiotic treatment are an excellent prevention of C. difficile infections.
In acute diarrhea, probiotics can also be beneficial, especially in cases of watery and abundant stools. This type of diarrhea can unintentionally sweep away healthy bacteria from the gut. But you’ll be restoring your healthy microbiota by using probiotics as a part of your treatment for diarrhea (3,4).
3) Reduce Digestive Disorder Symptom
Digestion is a complex process where your body absorbs nutrients from foods. But it is much more than that, and there are many things at stake. Poor digestion causes deficiency symptoms and sometimes severe malnutrition. If only one food component is not digested correctly, it can trigger several symptoms.
One example is lactose, a carbohydrate found in milk. Lactose is a very small food particle, but it causes nasty symptoms when not correctly processed. It stays in the intestines, feeds bacteria, creates intestinal gas, drags water, and may trigger diarrhea. All that because you don’t have enough of a small protein that breaks down lactose. In this scenario, probiotics can aid digestion by breaking down lactose. It makes it easier for you to process this type of carbohydrate and many other nutrients (5).
4) Probiotics May Support Mental Health
The brain is very far from the gut, but they communicate through an intricate network of neurons and substances. Whatever signals we receive in the gut can change what the brain does. And depending on the balance of substances in the brain, we can feel fantastic or really bad.
Many probiotics would have at least minimal modifications in mental health. However, some of them display a more robust response. They are known as psychobiotics. One of them is the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium longum. This particular species is known to improve mild and moderate anxiety in some patients.
We need to highlight that mental health is multifactorial. So, modifying your gut microbiome might not be enough aid when a very severe problem needs to be solved elsewhere. However, they might be an excellent complementary therapy, especially for patients with suggestive gastrointestinal symptoms (6).
5) Healthy Gut-Brain Connection
You may not have realized it, but your mind and your gut are deeply connected. Have you ever felt cramps and bloating when you’re nervous or stressed out? Some people have also felt a sudden urge to go to the toilet when they are anxious.
Research has unveiled a very complex relationship between your brain and your gut. It turns out that you have a vast network of neurons in your gut. They are so many neurons that scientists call a second brain. In this second brain, thousands of impulses are created and sent to the brain. Moreover, these impulses sometimes dictate what the brain does and how it makes you feel.
For example, we can talk about short-chain fatty acids. They are substances created by probiotics. Butyrate, acetate, and propionate are the most important examples. After being manufactured by probiotics, they don’t stay in the gut. They go through the blood and reach the brain. In the brain, they reduce appetite and contribute to the strength of the blood-brain barrier’sbarrier, which protects the brain against disease (6).
We can continue talking about short-chain fatty acids because they have different roles. These substances also control inflammation and contribute to the normal function of the immune system. But besides this mechanism, probiotics and prebiotics slow down the creation of inflammatory substances.
You may have heard about cytokines as mediators of inflammation. Their levels drop in animals and human trials after administering probiotics such as Lactobacillus plantarum, bifidobacteria, or Lactobacillus casei subspecies rhamnosis GG.
The effects of probiotics on inflammation are evident in cases of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They are both chronic inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract. Many studies show that these patients experience fewer symptoms and less severe flare-ups when consuming probiotic foods and supplements (7).
7) Healthy Nutrient Absorption
Our system has evolved along with our gut microbiota, and a sort of symbiosis has developed. These bacteria perform a variety of functions that our own digestive system does not accomplish independently.
They contribute to the overall nutrient and energy balance. That’s why colonization by unhealthy bacteria is associated with a higher risk of obesity and other health problems.
The gut microflora synthesizes other nutrients. One of the most prominent is folate. Most of us do not really need folate supplements or folate-rich foods. This vitamin is synthesized every day by the gut microbiota. Another example is vitamin K, which is synthesized by some species. Together, they all contribute to our nutrition and nutrient absorption (8).
8) Improve Your Metabolic Health
The gut microbiota has a relationship with other glands, especially the pancreas and the liver. The pancreas is affected by chronic inflammation, and this contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes. The liver is affected by toxins and inflammatory substances found in food.
A healthy microbiota strengthens the intestinal lining and prevents the leaky gut. By doing so, these microbes reduce the penetration of toxins and our own inflammatory reactions.
That’s why we can find a very distinct change in diabetic patients’ microbiota compared to healthy individuals. In the process, harmful bacteria can also contribute to weight gain by disrupting the gut-brain signals. In simple words, your brain doesn’t realize the nutrients you really need. You don’t feel satiated and feel more sugar cravings when energy is not required (8,9).
9) May Help with Weight Loss
Probiotics can be administered along with prebiotics for better results. Prebiotics are nondigestible fibers used by microbes as a source of energy. They contribute to microbial growth and can be used wisely in cases of overweight and obesity.
The association of probiotic-prebiotic is also known as symbiotics. They are particularly useful to control inflammation and promote weight loss in obese individuals.
Together, they delay gastric emptying and make you feel more satiated. They promote bacterial fermentation and stimulate satiety hormones in the gut. They also impair the uptake of cholesterol by blocking bile acid reabsorption. If you’re using these probiotics along with a weight-loss diet, they will very likely contribute to your results (8,9).
10) Can Boost Your Immune System
The gut is associated with the most extensive network of immune system tissue in the human body. It is known as GALT or gut-associated lymphoid tissue. It is a heterogeneous array of lymph vessels, lymph nodes, and white blood cells. They are always in contact with your gut microbes, and these bacteria can regulate their actions.
You could say that thriving bacteria in the gut stimulate the immune system and helps your body keep alert. But there’s more than that. For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus is known to upregulate genes that control the viral defense. That’s why some studies suggest that probiotic administration reduces the incidence and severity of the viral disease (10).
11) May Help with Certain Allergies
Probiotics keep your body alert and boost your immune system. But that doesn’t mean that your body will become hyperreactive. When you have an allergy, the immune system is overreacting against a stimulus known as an allergen.
This allergen can be pollen, dust, or certain foods. But your white blood cells believe this is a nasty microbe and start attacking them aggressively. Your own tissues get affected in the process.
Probiotics can select what function to turn on while turning off a few others. Thus, it activates immunity against harmful bacteria while protecting you from allergies. For example, in respiratory allergies, probiotics can control allergic rhinitis and asthma. Lactobacillus reuteri is an excellent species if you’re after this effect. In atopic dermatitis, Lactobacillus acidophilus has excellent effects to counter the symptoms (11).
12) Support Prostate Health
Young men can also suffer from prostate issues, especially acute and chronic prostatitis. This is an inflammation of the prostate, usually caused by bacterial agents. By boosting the immune system, probiotics can also support prostate health by reducing the risk of prostatitis.
Some studies have found a symptomatic improvement in chronic prostatitis when probiotics are included in the treatment. When administered along with antibiotics, probiotics can prevent prostatitis progression and its complications (12,13).
13) Can Help with Ulcer
Gastric ulcers are very common. They feature a defect of the mucosal lining in the stomach, and Helicobacter pylori are among the most common causes. But we could prevent ulcers and speed up the treatment by using the right probiotics.
Probiotics work in different ways to protect your stomach. They strengthen the gastric mucosal barrier, a fundamental defense of the digestive tube. They promote anti-inflammatory actions and upregulate growth factors to speed up recovery. They induce blood vessel formation to nourish newly formed tissue. Thus, they have been considered a useful complementary treatment in gastric ulcers (14).
14) Can Raise Testosterone Level
Preliminary findings suggest that some probiotics may have a signaling role in testosterone synthesis. Lactobacillus reuteri is one of those species. These bacteria have been associated with an increase in the number of Leydig cells, where testosterone is created. More seminiferous tubules are found in the testis, and sperm synthesis is also enhanced.
Moreover, studies suggest that gonadal aging slows down after using probiotics. Testicular mass and function are not compromised at an older age. This could help males prevent cases of low testosterone levels and hypogonadism in older age. All of this is preliminary data, and more studies are necessary to confirm these findings. But it is so far a promising alternative to maintain a man’s sexual health for longer (15).
15) Maintain and Restore Bone Health
The microbiota also affects bone tissue. Studies show that inadequate colonization by gut bacteria causes bone loss. If you want to reverse this, a good idea would be to include prebiotics and probiotics for a better result. They give your healthy bacteria what they need to create short-chain fatty acids, which prevent inflammation and bone loss.
Appropriate bacteria for bone health include Bacillus subtilis, which contribute to bone growth. Saccharomyces cerevisiae repairs bone tissue and controls bone inflammation. Lactobacillus brevis can also contribute to the treatment in cases of periodontitis (16).
Introducing Probiotics Into Your Daily Regimen
If you’re now convinced about introducing probiotics into your daily regime, here’s what you can do:
- An excellent way to start the changes would be eating more probiotic foods. Yogurt is a good start, but you need to make sure that they have probiotic strains. Read the label because some of them are sterilized and stripped off bacterial species.
- You can try different probiotic foods but may need to get used to the taste. Try sauerkraut, pickles, miso soup, sour cream, kombucha, kimchi, tempeh, and sourdough bread.
- Do not change your whole dietary pattern dramatically. Do it slowly and increase the daily amount of fermented foods gradually.
- If you’re taking supplements, the standard recommendation is about 15 billion bacterial cells every day. However, you may need to adjust the dose depending on the bacteria you’re using.
- You can start using supplements slowly to see how your body responds. Try half a dose instead of the complete dose for a few weeks. Then, increase it gradually until your body gets used to it.
- Side effects are infrequent when you’re using probiotics. You could initially experience mild cramps, a skin rash, or a headache. They may be temporary as your body adopts new probiotic species. If your symptoms are severe or out of the ordinary, you may want to stop taking them or reduce the dose.
- Probiotics are useful, but they take a very long time to work. Studies take 6 to 8 weeks to measure improvements, and individuals take probiotics every single day as instructed. So, if you want to see results, you need to be persistent.
Gut health is a complex topic that does not only have to do with the digestive tract. The rest of the body is also involved. Using probiotic bacteria as a dietary supplement is an excellent idea to improve our digestive health. They work even better when used along with prebiotic fiber.
The main role of probiotics is favoring the gut flora. We have good bacteria colonizing and protecting the gut from bad bacteria. What raw probiotics do is providing more good bacteria to keep them thriving and contribute to your gut health.
Besides protecting the digestive tract, these bacteria have dairy digesting enzymes that prevent bloating in cases of lactose intolerance. More nutrients are absorbed because they also break down fiber and create short-chain fatty acids. They even create a few vitamins for us. Probiotic created vitamins are absorbed in the gut, and that’s why most of us do not require a special supply of folate.
Another feature of probiotics has to do with inflammation and irritable bowel syndrome. They balance our immune health and prevent inflammatory diseases. Locally, they can contribute to treating the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Some bacteria strains also work as probiotics for men. They increase our levels of testosterone and may also reduce the risk of prostatitis.
All of these benefits encourage us to maintain a healthy microbial balance to stay healthy for a longer time. If you want to achieve this, you can use probiotic foods and a combination of probiotic and prebiotic supplements. It is essential to use different strains to get the benefits of several healthy bacteria simultaneously.