Probiotic supplements have grown in popularity in recent years for a reason — they play a critical role in supporting the balance of bacteria in your digestive system and keeping your gut healthy.
Probiotics are a great way to replenish gut bacteria. Probiotics are strains of living microorganisms like bacteria and yeasts often found in fermented foods or supplements that help colonize your gut with beneficial bacteria.
Most people think of bacteria as harmful, but they’re definitely not all bad. In fact, the right bacteria are critical for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. These good bacteria help form barriers that can help protect your digestive system from harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support the diversity and balance of the human gut microbiome. They work by introducing good bacteria into the GI tract, optimizing the delicate balance of microorganisms that live there. When the bacteria in the gut are balanced, overall digestion is enhanced and there are fewer chances of experiencing uncomfortable symptoms like bloating orgas.
These beneficial microorganisms can be obtained through various sources, with fermented foods and supplements being the most common. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are rich in live probiotic cultures, while probiotic supplements offer a convenient and concentrated way to introduce these beneficial bacteria into the system.
The effectiveness of probiotics can be further enhanced when coupled with prebiotic fiber. Prebiotics act as a fuel source for the good bacteria in the gut, promoting their growth and activity.
All humans have similar physiology when it comes to the gut. However, there are certain health impacts of probiotics that can affect persons born male differently due to anatomical differences and hormone-related factors. As a result, specific probiotic strains may have more profound effects on men compared to women. Emerging studies have shed light on the importance of the microbiome and its role in male reproductive health and overall body homeostasis.
Probiotics are one of the most popular supplement categories in the United States and they can benefit anyone, regardless of gender.
You may have already heard about the benefits probiotics offer for digestive health, but probiotics offer benefits that extend beyond your gut, too. In particular, men may be interested in adding a probiotic supplement to their daily routine to aid their immune system, reproductive system, and mental health.
Additionally, as you age, it is likely that you may notice changes in your digestive system that probiotics can help support, like changes in your stool due to dietary changes. You may also be more generally focused on your immune health as you age, and probiotics have been shown to help support healthy immune function.
There isn’t one particular sign or symptom that indicates men should consider supplementing with a probiotic. However, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to help decide if taking a probiotic supplement is right for you, like:
Still not sure? You can take our quiz to see if probiotics are a good choice for your health routine. And of course, always speak with your doctor if you have questions about whether a specific supplement is right for you.
Probiotics have been extensively researched in the scientific and medical communities for their ability to support men’s digestive health, immune function, and reproductive health, among other things.
Gut health may be the most well-known and well-researched benefit associated with probiotics. Your digestive system is your entire gastrointestinal (GI) tract from your mouth to anus which includes so many organs along the way like your stomach to your large intestine. “Gut health” refers to the overall state of the whole GI system.
Ideally, your body keeps a very specific balance of microorganisms in your gut. However, things like stress, poor dietary choices, and environmental issues can all have a negative impact on the regulation of healthy bacteria. Probiotics can help you keep that balance in check to keep your gut healthy.
Probiotics can help improve and normalize bowel movement patterns.
In one study.), over 1000 healthy adults were given the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. Lactis (AKA BB-12) and monitored for markers of bowel health over a period of 4 weeks. These included bowel movement frequency, relief of abdominal discomfort, and overall GI well-being.
Bowel movement frequency was significantly higher in the probiotic treatment group compared with placebo at all weeks. Abdominal discomfort and bloating decreased during the study in both treatment groups. The consistency of produced bowels became softer in all the treatment groups, showing an overall beneficial effect by the end of week four.
In addition, probiotics may help reduce loose stools from antibiotic use. Antibiotics are known for negatively impacting your GI system. Specifically, diarrhea is one of the most common side effects associated with antibiotic use.
Luckily, probiotics can help reduce loose stools as a result of antibiotic use by helping to colonize your gut with beneficial bacteria.
One study of 396 subjects evaluated the severity of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea (AAD) in folks who were slated for a 7-day round of antibiotics. Participants were randomized into either the probiotic group containing Lactobacillus acidophilus LA-5 and Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 (4 Billion CFU) or a placebo group.
Researchers found that those who completed a 14-day therapy of probiotic formulation had significantly fewer days of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea (AAD) than those in the placebo group. This same study found that 31.6% of the probiotic group experienced severe diarrhea compared to 96% in the placebo group.
Probiotics reside in your gut and are typically celebrated for their digestive health properties, but probiotic strains have also been studied for their effect on the immune system.
Since most of your immune cells (70-80%) live in your digestive system, probiotics benefits also result in immune system support. While the exact mechanism for providing immune support is not known, a 2008 study published in FEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology found that taking Lactobacillus acidophilus (NCFM) and Bifidobacterium lactis (BI-04) — two probiotic strains that help regulate gut bacteria — supports the production of antibodies that help keep our systemic and mucosal immune responses healthy.
Probiotic combinations used in this study(Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis, BB-12® and Lactobacillus paracasei ssp. paracasei, L. casei 431), have also been shown to increase the number of immunoglobulins produced by the body. Immunoglobulins play a key role in the body's immune system. They are proteins produced by specific immune cells in response to foreign microorganisms.
Weight management is another area where probiotics have shown promising benefits. While probiotics alone cannot magically alter weight or replace the importance of a balanced diet and regular physical activity, they can play a supportive role in metabolic wellness. Specific strains such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have been associated with supporting metabolic parameters that are already within the normal range.
One of the ways probiotics can influence weight management is through their impact on hormones, like leptin. Leptin is a hormone responsible for regulating appetite and body weight maintenance. Studies have shown that certain probiotics, such as L. rhamnosus, may have an effect on leptin levels, potentially promoting better appetite control and contributing to weight management efforts.
Probiotics cannot treat any disorders, but they are able to support fertility in healthy people. This is because they can positively impact healthy bacterial balance in the urogenital system. The urogenital system is susceptible to imbalances that can lead to various issues, and probiotics can help maintain a harmonious environment.
One small trial comparing the use of antibiotics alone to antibiotics paired with probiotics demonstrated that the combination performed better in maintaining urogenital health. Though the study did not use a commercially available probiotic strain, it underscored the importance of beneficial bacteria in supporting the delicate balance of the urogenital system.
Additionally, probiotics have been shown to support prostate health by encouraging healthy bacterial diversity and balance. Certain probiotics, particularly Lactobacillus strains, have been linked to healthy sperm parameters and genetic expression. Probiotics have been shown to support a healthy environment for sperm, as well as enhanced sperm motility.
The research on probiotics and testosterone focuses mainly on persons born female and how the microbiome impacts healthy hormone balance. Nevertheless, emerging research in animals also suggests that a healthy gut microbiome may be linked to a healthy prostate and balanced testosterone and DHEA levels. Additional human research is needed in this area. A recent study found a correlation between Firmicutes bacteria concentrations and testosterone levels in elderly men. This relationship needs to be further researched to understand how the Firmicutes bacteria impacts testosterone metabolism and production.
We’ve already discussed the numerous ways in which probiotics affect the gut, so it’s no surprise that these beneficial microbes would promote feelings of digestive comfort. Probiotics have been found to play a role in synthesizing certain digestive enzymes, particularly those associated with fat digestion, thus aiding in the breakdown of nutrients. Additionally, probiotics support the body's production of essential B vitamins within the gut, further enhancing digestive wellness.
Studies have demonstrated that multistrain probiotics may lead to a slight increase in bowel movements, particularly in healthy older adults, though not statistically significant in the short term. However, with continued use for 71 days, the probiotic group showed a significant improvement in bowel movements. This evidence suggests that probiotics can play a meaningful role in promoting digestive comfort and regularity over time.
Probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri CP2305) have been shown to support a healthy mental state and sleep quality in healthy adults, particularly in individuals facing stressful circumstances. While research on probiotics' direct impact on sleep quality is still evolving, some studies have observed supportive effects, especially in healthy individuals when using single-strain probiotics for longer durations. However, more extensive research is needed to determine whether probiotics play a direct role in sleep quality.
Additionally, probiotics may support healthy cognition during periods of acute stress, potentially aiding in mental clarity and focus. The research explores various strains and combinations and how they can support cognitive health. As part of a comprehensive approach to mental health, probiotics can serve as a valuable complementary support alongside other measures. The key is finding the best probiotic strain, dose, and dose.
According to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, a probiotic label should contain several pieces of useful information. Let’s take a look at what the research suggests.
Look for well-studied species like L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, and B. lactis, which have all been shown to help support gut and immune health.
Probiotics differ in the quantity of bacteria in the supplement. Doses of probiotics are measured in colony-forming units (CFUs) and can range from 1 million to 30 billion. Check with your doctor to see which dosage is right for you. More isn’t always better. Generally, a daily probiotic for gut and immune health is between 5-15 billion CFUs.
As probiotics are live microbial organisms, be sure to look for storage instructions on the label. Some strains require refrigeration while others don’t. Always aim to purchase a product that does not expire for at least three months. If you have a probiotic supplement sitting in your medicine cabinet, be sure to check the expiration date before taking it. Additionally, be mindful of storing your probiotics in excessive heat, which can degrade the microorganisms faster.
When choosing a probiotic supplement, you can also consider a product that includes prebiotics. The formulation of prebiotics and probiotics together forms a powerful combination referred to as synbiotics.
The addition of prebiotics can offer further benefits such as supporting healthy calcium absorption, aiding in healthy lipid metabolism, and maintaining a balanced and diverse intestinal microbiota. Moreover, prebiotics can help to ensure that probiotics work more effectively.
It’s a good idea to take the delivery system of the probiotic you choose into account. Enteric-coated capsules offer a valuable solution as they provide protection to the probiotic bacteria from the harsh acidic environment of the stomach. This protective coating ensures that the beneficial bacteria can safely reach the intestines.
And, as previously mentioned, some probiotic supplements are combined with prebiotics, which not only fuels the probiotics but also aids in boosting their effectiveness.
When evaluating probiotics, it's essential to prioritize the specific strains of bacteria over the colony-forming units (CFUs) count. Different strains offer unique benefits, so consulting with a healthcare provider is recommended to identify the most effective strains to support your needs.
Look for products that have undergone third-party testing to ensure purity and potency. Opt for supplements that contain no additional fillers, allergens, sweeteners, or unnecessary ingredients, as these can affect the effectiveness and safety of the probiotics.
Storing probiotics correctly is necessary for maintaining their effectiveness. Some probiotics require refrigeration to preserve their live and active cultures, while others are shelf-stable and do not need refrigeration. Remember that supplements requiring refrigeration aren’t necessarily superior; both types can be effective if stored correctly. Be sure to check the use-by or expiration dates and avoid storing probiotics in humid, hot, or direct sunlight environments.
If you are seeking a probiotic supplement, you may find the selection process overwhelming. Two probiotic formulations that may work well for you are a probiotic blend or a yeast probiotic.
A probiotic blend combines a few of the most studied strains of bacteria to confer great health benefits in one capsule. Look for a probiotic blend with strains like L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus and B. lactis which have been extensively researched for their gut and immune health properties. A yeast probiotic contains a single yeast strain that may provide benefits for your gut. Look for a strain that has been clinically studied like S. boulardii.
If you need help figuring out which is right for your specific needs, you can take our quiz for a tailored recommendation.
Probiotics come in various strains, each with unique health benefits. Two of the most common probiotic strains found in supplements are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. The effectiveness of a probiotic largely depends on your specific health goals and needs.
In addition to supplements, you can also add probiotic-rich foods to your diet. Look for fermented foods like kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, kefir, and tempeh, all of which provide a nutritious (and delicious) way of getting more “good” bacteria into your daily routine.
Soil-based probiotics (SBOs) present a distinct category of beneficial bacteria with potential advantages for men's health. Among the various SBOs, Bacillus coagulans is one of the most common strains found in supplements.
Bacillus coagulans produce lactic acid in the gut, which helps improve gut health and enhance nutrient absorption. Men who may be sensitive to other probiotics might find SBOs to be a suitable alternative.
Probiotics cannot produce benefits on their own and, like other supplements, thrive when combined with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, for instance, supports a healthy microbiome environment, further promoting the effectiveness of probiotics. Emphasizing a diverse food intake, including fiber-rich foods, helps maintain a thriving gut microbiome.
Another important lifestyle factor is getting enough sleep. Sleep plays a significant role in gut health and overall well-being. It is equally important to use medications/antibiotics only when medically necessary and under a healthcare professional's guidance, as certain medications can affect the gut microbiome. Never stop taking prescribed medications without your doctor's approval.
Limiting alcohol and tobacco use is also beneficial, as both can negatively affect gut health and reduce the efficacy of probiotics.
Probiotics can interact with medications, so you should always ask your healthcare provider before starting a probiotic regimen. Additionally, individuals who are immune-compromised or have underlying medical conditions need to speak with their doctor before using probiotics, as they may be at risk of potential complications.
For sensitive individuals, certain probiotic strains may temporarily lead to increased bloating or discomfort initially and as the microbiome adjusts the discomfort should subside. If discomfort persists, consider talking to your doctor about a lower dose or a different formula.
Probiotics offer a number of benefits for healthy men, including improved bowel health and motility, immune function, weight management, and reproductive health. Probiotics can be obtained from fermented foods, but supplements can offer a more convenient route.
When choosing a probiotic supplement, look for well-studied strains like L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, and B. lactis. Pay attention to the quantity of bacteria (measured in CFUs), expiration dates, and consider products with prebiotics for added benefits.
Probiotics work best when combined with a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, diverse food intake, and sufficient sleep.