Probiotics are marked specifically for women or men, while others do not make a distinction. This article discusses probiotic benefits in men and discusses how to use these supplements safely.
Probiotics are live organisms that, when consumed, provide beneficial effects to the gut microbiome.
Probiotics help to maintain a healthy gut and immune system while also improving testosterone levels and sperm parameters.
Probiotic use shows some promise in helping men with infertility, psychiatric disorders, and cognitive impairments.
Probiotics have mild and self-limiting side effects without significant drug interactions and, thus, are safe to use.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics contain live bacteria and yeasts in defined quantities intended to produce positive health effects when consumed. Many different supplements and foods fall into the category of probiotics. For example, yogurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese, kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso soup are foods rich in probiotics. Additionally, these foods often contain strains of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria — the available strains should be listed on the packaging.
Supplements are another way to increase probiotic intake and are often formulated with specific strains. The most common strains include Bacillus spp., Lactobacilli spp., Bifidobacteria spp., and Saccharomyces spp. Despite limited support regarding the differing effects of probiotics on men and women, many supplements are formulated specifically for a man or woman.
Probiotic benefits for men
Probiotics have been linked to various health benefits. However, several studies in men have also linked some gender-specific probiotic effects. We will discuss the primary health benefits for men.
Digestion and gut health
Adding probiotics to one's diet aids with the digestion and absorption of various amino acids, helps maintain regularity, and reduces symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, and gas. Strains such as Saccharomyces boulardii and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG aid in preventing antibiotic-related diarrhea. Additionally, using probiotics helps reduce the severity and duration of infectious-related diarrhea, such as traveler's diarrhea and viral causes of diarrhea.
For patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), probiotics have shown some promise in reducing gastrointestinal discomfort and bloating. However, the evidence is from small studies. Regardless, the risks of using probiotics in most people are negligible, making it worth trying probiotics.
Immune system regulation
Most of the immune system is contained within the GI tract (approximately 70%). Thus, it is not hard to imagine that the microbiota residing in the gut can affect inflammatory responses and immune functions.
Probiotics can improve the integrity of the GI tract's cell lining, which can prevent the absorption of potentially harmful compounds. In addition, this helps modulate the inflammatory response within the GI tract, which helps in conditions such as IBS and celiac disease.
Enhanced immune responses may be a beneficial effect of using probiotics. For example, probiotic use reduced the severity, duration, and number of upper respiratory infections in athletes.
Probiotic use increases the absorption of calcium, a necessary building block to maintain a healthy bone density. Additionally, microbes within the GI tract modulate gut serotonin production, a molecule that interacts with bone cells and regulates bone turnover. Together, these mechanisms are beneficial to combat the age-related loss of bone density.
Lactobacillus spp. and Bifidobacterium spp. positively affect semen parameters such as sperm count, morphology, and motility. In addition, these probiotics improve testosterone levels and other sex hormones (FSH, LH). As a result, the increase in testosterone combined with the reduced inflammatory state induced by probiotics helps improve specific causes of male infertility.
Psychiatric and cognitive benefits
Probiotic and prebiotic usage improves psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety. They also have shown effects beneficial in cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's and autism. However, further research is needed to confirm these effects, but these preliminary findings are promising.
Do men need probiotics?
Many factors, such as antibiotic usage and dietary modifications, can manipulate the gut flora. These factors reduce the number of beneficial flora and encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.
Abnormalities in the gut microbiota are linked to various health conditions and illnesses. Thus, probiotics help increase or maintain healthy gut flora. As more research becomes available, we are finding that probiotics are beneficial in a number of health conditions.
By and large, adding a probiotic to a diet helps improve symptoms and benefits men who suffer from GI-related conditions. In addition, probiotics help alter the gut microbiome toward more beneficial organisms and, thus, produce added benefits in men.
Should men take probiotics?
In general, probiotics have numerous beneficial effects on the bacteria and yeasts within the gut, which has translated to various health benefits. In men with GI symptoms common to IBS or infectious diarrhea, implementing a probiotic helps reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. Therefore, probiotics can be used for treating these conditions.
When deciding to use new , it is important to weigh the risks and benefits. Probiotics have many benefits, but some need more research to confirm preliminary findings. However, the risks of probiotics are very minimal. For instance, side effects include diarrhea, gas, and bloating, which are typically mild and resolve as the body adjusts to the new supplement or food.
Probiotics do not interact with any medications. However, for men who have short gut syndrome or severe immunosuppression, it is best to avoid probiotics. Despite that, the overall benefits of probiotics and low risks support their use.
Can men take probiotics designed for women?
To best answer this question, read the supplement's package label to check the ingredients. Many probiotics designed for women contain added herbs and nutrients found to be beneficial for a woman's health. Thus, making these formulas less appealing to men.
On the other hand, some probiotics designed for men contain additives like selenium and zinc. These additives are used in conjunction with probiotics to help enhance their beneficial effects. So depending on the desired benefits, picking a probiotic designed for men can be more effective.
Many of the benefits listed above have been linked to four common organisms, including Bacillus spp., Lactobacilli spp., Bifidobacteria spp., and Saccharomyces spp. Therefore, supplements containing these microorganisms are typically safe regardless of whether they are marketed to women or men.
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- Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins. Probiotics and the Gut Immune System: Indirect Regulation.
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Probiotics.
- Calcified Tissue International. Gut Microbiota, Immune System, and Bone.
- Nutrients. The Use of Probiotics for Management and Improvement of Reproductive Eubiosis and Function.
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- Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. The Effects of Probiotics and Prebiotics on Mental Disorders: A Review on Depression, Anxiety, Alzheimer, and Autism Spectrum Disorders.