Probiotics for Women
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Women are synonymous with strength. The way they single-handedly manage their career, family, and social life is incredible. However, in between all these things they often overlook their health.
In today’s era, there are numerous products that claim to promote women’s health and well-being but the complex physiology of a woman’s body doesn’t always align with such products and may often yield undesirable results.
So what can women do to stay fit and healthy? Well, apart from adopting a healthy lifestyle they can opt for natural supplements like probiotics which are easy to use, well tolerated, and provide innumerable health benefits.
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?
Trillions of microorganisms reside in the human body. Some of these organisms are beneficial for you while others can harm your body. The balance between these two types is essential for keeping the body healthy.
Probiotics are those microorganisms that are beneficial for you. They include friendly bacteria and yeast that support various functions within your body.
TYPES OF PROBIOTICS
There are so many types of prebiotics that it will take an eternity to describe all of them but below is a quick description of the three most common types:
- Lactobacillus – It is the most common type of probiotic usually found in yogurt and other fermented products. It mainly helps in digestion and is also beneficial for those who are lactose intolerant.
- Bifidobacterium – The second most common type of probiotic i.e. bifidobacterium is found in dairy products. It keeps your gut healthy, reduces inflammation, and helps to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other conditions.
- Saccharomyces boulardii – It is a yeast that helps fight digestive problems, particularly diarrhea.
Probiotics are mainly present in fermented food products but you can also get them from other sources like fruits, vegetables, seeds, and fibers.
Below is a list of different probiotics containing food items:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Chia seeds
Apart from the above-mentioned food sources, you can also get your daily dose of probiotics from dietary supplements.
BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS FOR WOMEN
Probiotics provide numerous health benefits to women. They keep the gut and vagina healthy, help lose weight and improve mood and sleep.
Following is the explanation of the different health benefits that probiotic supplementation provides:
REGULATES GUT HEALTH
Your gut contains both harmful and beneficial bacteria. The balance between these two is essential to keep the gut healthy. Probiotics help to maintain this balance between good and bad bacteria.
Probiotics out crowd harmful bacteria by producing bacteriocin proteins. These proteins then kill bad bacteria. Probiotics also lower the pH of the gut making the environment unfriendly for disease-causing pathogens.
Probiotics protect the cells of the intestinal wall and promote the repair of damaged tissues by supporting the cells that make the extracellular matrix. As a result, the lining of the gut remains in good condition and prevents bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
Pregnancy, fluctuating levels of hormones, and stress are some of the factors that can impair digestive functions in a woman’s body. Therefore, they are sometimes unable to process certain types of foods.
Probiotic supplementation increases the level of good bacteria within your gut and helps to run the digestive processes smoothly.
ENSURES REGULAR BOWEL MOVEMENTS
Regular bowel movements are essential for expelling the toxins and waste products out of your body.
Irregular bowel movements can lead to increased absorption of bile acids from the intestines. The excess amount of bile acids can concentrate within the breasts and impart an estrogen-like, tumor-promoting effect.
Furthermore, irregular bowel movements can cause constipation which might raise your blood pressure.
Probiotics make up 70% of the total bulk of a healthy bowel movement hence it is necessary to include probiotics in your daily routine so that bowel movements remain regular and uninterrupted.
MAINTAINS APPROPRIATE TRANSIT TIME
Probiotics have a significant impact on transit time or how long the waste remains in your body.
When transit time is too short it doesn’t allow the digestive system to absorb a sufficient amount of water and nutrients from the food. As a result, you might experience diarrhea, dehydration, and nutritional deficiencies.
When transit time is too long stools become hard as most of the water is extracted. This makes it difficult for an individual to pass stools. On top of that when waste stays in the body for too long it undergoes fermentation which creates a favorable environment for the growth of harmful bacteria.
High levels of progesterone during pregnancy can also slow down the removal of waste from the body.
Different strains of probiotics such as bifidobacterium lactis ensure that waste move along at the optimal speed so that effects of too short or too long transit time can be avoided.
PREVENTS VAGINAL INFECTIONS
Just like the gut vagina is home to numerous good and bad microorganisms which must be kept in balance to prevent bacterial infections and some sexually transmitted diseases.
The proximity between the vagina opening and anus also increases the chance of infectious diseases due to cross-contamination.
Infections such as bacterial vaginosis can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and may cause complications during pregnancy.
Probiotics in particular lactobacillus produce lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide. These two chemicals help the vagina maintain an acidic pH as bad bacteria cannot survive in an acidic environment.
A healthy vaginal biome is also essential for conceiving the baby. So, taking probiotic supplementation will not only prevent vaginal infections but also improves fertility.
STRENGTHENS IMMUNE SYSTEM
Probiotics maintain a good balance of friendly and harmful microbes within your body. They also produce vitamins and regulate gut health. All these factors together help to strengthen your immune system as a whole and prevent you from being sick.
HELPS TO LOSE WEIGHT
Stress and hormonal factors can cause women to put on excess weight. Different probiotics like lactobacillus, bifidobacterium, and vsl#3 help women significantly reduce their weight and body mass index.
Probiotics break down fibers to produce short-chain fatty acids like butyrate and acetate. As a result, there is increased oxidation of fatty acids and decreased storage of fat within the body.
Probiotics also decrease the absorption of dietary fats and elevate the levels of fat-regulating proteins. These proteins decrease the absorption and storage of fat which helps you lose weight effectively.
Probiotics can also positively affect the levels of appetite-regulating hormones. These hormones burn fat and calories and help you prevent overeating.
Apart from the above-mentioned processes probiotics also help you lose weight by reducing systemic inflammation which is one of the risk factors for obesity.
KEEPS SKIN HEALTHY
Skin is also home to good and bad bacteria which must be kept in balance. Probiotics support healthy skin not only by keeping a good balance between skin flora but also by maintaining a healthy gut and immune system both of which indirectly cause skin problems.
Consuming probiotic supplementation can reduce the severity of eczema, acne, hypersensitivity reactions, and allergic inflammation.
Probiotics also promote wound healing and help fight skin damage.
Women are more likely to experience mood disturbances due to changes in hormone activity during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause.
Probiotics maintain a healthy gut microbe and support good mental health via the gut-brain axis. Bacteria in the gut communicate with the brain through the vagus nerve and regulate mood.
Certain microorganisms can disrupt the circadian rhythms and impact your sleep negatively. Probiotics maintain the diversity of gut microbes and limit the growth of microorganisms that have a poor effect on your sleep.
Although prebiotic supplements are well-tolerated by people of all ages they sometimes trigger allergic reactions in people who are allergic to different ingredients like dairy, eggs, soy, and lactose.
Therefore, it is recommended that you carefully read the label before purchasing any probiotic supplement and don’t consume it if there are any ingredients that you might be allergic to.
Some people are allergic to yeast and don’t tolerate yeast-based probiotics very well. In that case, one should opt for bacteria-based probiotic supplementation.
Antibiotics and antifungal drugs can interact with probiotics. Hence, always consult with your healthcare provider if you are taking any of these drugs with probiotics.
Women have a unique physiology that makes them vulnerable to different health conditions. Hence, women need to take their health seriously and take extra measures to stay fit and healthy.
Probiotic supplementation is one of the ways which helps women to take care of their health. It keeps the gut healthy, boosts immunity, improves fertility, prevents vaginal infections, and regulates mood.
In a nutshell consumption of probiotic supplements ensures the overall well-being of women.
It is advised that you speak with your doctor before starting probiotic supplementation especially if you are taking medications for any underlying health condition.