When you see or hear the word bacteria, you most probably think of the harmful microorganisms that wreak havoc in our bodies. After all, much of our daily routine involves getting rid of bad bacteria—from washing our hands with antibacterial soap, to cleaning our homes with disinfectants. Rarely do we think about good bacteria—the kind that our bodies actually need, the kind that actually live inside our bodies.
That’s right—our bodies are teeming with trillions of microorganisms. The plethora of microbes in the human body is most often referred to as the gut microbiome, and it is essential to our overall health.
The Gut Microbiome
There are about 1,000 species of bacteria in the gut microbiome, and they actually outnumber the number of cells in the human body. Research suggests that there are 40 trillion bacterial cells and only 30 trillion human cells in the human body.
The gut microbiome functions in many ways. It is essential to digestive health and processing fiber, as well as communicating with immune cells to help boost the immune system. Studies also show that it plays a role in neurogenerative processes, regulating mood levels, and even combating depression and anxiety. That said, a healthy, balanced gut is essential to physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
However, having high stress levels, the wrong diet, lack of sleep, and a lot of other factors may throw your gut off balance. This is where probiotics come in.
What are Probiotics?
As mentioned earlier, good bacteria is essential for the human body. Probiotics, otherwise called “good bacteria,” are live bacteria and yeasts that restore balance and harmony in your gut microbiome. So should you take probiotics?
The short answer is yes. Gut health is linked to the overall function of the entire human body—and anyone, men and women alike, can benefit from a well-balanced gut.
Fermented food like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are rich in probiotics—and you can integrate them in your diet if you feel that you need to boost your gut health. However, there are many probiotic supplements that are available on the market.
The Best Probiotics for Women
Aside from the aforementioned functions, the gut microbiome also helps regulate hormones. Medical research suggests that too much estrogen can make periods heavier, and contributes to long term risk of conditions like uterine fibroids and breast cancer. Taking probiotic supplements can help balance and control estrogen levels.
Taking probiotic-rich food or supplements can help keep the vaginal microbiome healthy and flourishing. It can also help prevent infections like vaginal yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is a strain of bacteria that can helps restore hormonal balance and fight off vaginal infections. Evidence also suggests that Lactobacillus also helps kill harmful bacteria altogether.
The Best Probiotics for Men
Taking probiotics in general helps ward off inflammation, and therefore fight disease. Experts suggest that gut imbalance may lead to chronic prostatitis, and that a well-balanced gut can also support prostate health in men.
Although Lactobacillus acidophilus also greatly supports men’s health, Saccharomyces boulardii is a bacteria strain that purportedly supports heart health. As studies suggest that men are more prone to heart conditions more than women, S. boulardii has linked to reducing inflammation in the arteries and the heart.
Men who have also taken S. boulardii has shown improvements in cholesterol, blood sugar levels, as well as blood pressure levels.