THE BEST PROBIOTIC FOR WOMEN FOR A HEALTHY GUT

"All diseases begin in the gut,”

Hippocrates, the founding father of modern medicine, once said.

Now, with mounting of gastrointestinal issues that is affecting the quality of life, well-being and health condition of many, people are now paying a lot of attention to their digestive health. One of the most popular subjects is the use of probiotics - those little live microorganisms that work to improve or restore our gut bacteria. Probiotics have shown to improve the immune function, protect against the risk of infection, promote a strong gut lining, reduce inflammation, aid in nutrient absorption by keeping the gut and digestive system happy and healthy, and optimize mood too.

The importance of probiotics has become critical due to drastic changes in our diet and lifestyle, particularly in developing and developed countries. Modern discovery of antibiotics, use of pesticides and GMO in our food and the high stress environments that we live in, have impacted negatively to our microbiome, leading to a stressed and weak gut barrier. Probiotics are an easy way to add more good bacteria colonies to our gut microbiome.

Every woman should consider adding a probiotic in their diet as probiotics can be particularly beneficial for them. With probiotics supplementation, women experience a clearer skin, a better bowel movement, a reduction in bloating, and a lesser incidence of yeast overgrowth and vaginal yeast infections.

Most probiotics contain at least two species of bacteria which primarily are Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Lactobacillus supports digestion and immune function, as well as reduces anxiety; Bifidobacterium helps digest fiber, supports metabolic processes such as regulating blood sugar, and improves brain function. It is likely that different strains can act differently in the body and have different results on health. Research shows that different probiotic strains do different things, which means they are not one-size-fits-all. Therefore, the best one for you depends on your individual needs. The most effective probiotic for you can depend on a number of factors, such as the strain of bacteria in the product, how many types of bacteria it contains, how the probiotic is stored, whether the product contains prebiotics, and what condition you are looking to target.

 

When we are looking at the best probiotics for women to take, we need to consider the needs of two separate anatomical areas, namely the GI tract and the urogenital tract. Due to the proximity of the vagina to the anus, it is much easier for pathogenic bacteria to cross over from the GI tract to the urogenital tract in women than in men. This can then go on to cause dysbiosis.  Hence, a healthy GI tract is very important for both guts and urogenital health. For women specifically, utilizing probiotics (especially L. acidophilus) may also benefit conditions like bacterial vaginosis, complicated vulvovaginal candidiasis, and urinary tract infection caused by imbalances. Much of these imbalances stem from a lack of lactobacilli or an overgrowth of other types of microorganisms, and can be worsened by the use of antibiotics typically prescribed for them. Probiotics may target certain imbalances and modify the inner vaginal microbiome for women.

 

Whilst the question of the best probiotic strains for digestive health conditions is not gender-specific, here we explore a few digestive conditions which are reportedly more common in women.

BLOATING

One symptom to look at when discussing probiotics specifically for female digestive health, is the problem of bloating, which is reported to be much more common in women than men. This can either be a constant problem, or the bloating can be cyclical and worsen at certain points in the menstrual cycle, due to fluctuating hormone levels. The symptoms of bloating and wind, are a result of an impairment of digestion and poor breaking down of food.

 

It is recommended to avoid probiotics that contain prebiotics initially, as these can aggravate certain symptoms such as bloating. You might consider probiotic strains that have been researched for bloating specifically such as Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07.

CONSTIPATION

Constipation is much more common in women, often during menstruation and pregnancy. Probiotics can play a key role in helping to relieve constipation, but it can be confusing trying to choose the correct and most effective one. Here we aim to demystify some of the confusion surrounding probiotics, and help you get the most out of your friendly bacteria. The majority of bacteria found in the large intestine are of the Bifidobacteria species, therefore it makes sense that probiotics with specific strains belonging to these species are generally regarded as the most beneficial in helping to alleviate constipation. The probiotics such as Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-04 work by encouraging the proliferation of good bacteria in the colon.

 

Avoiding constipation is important when managing hormonally related conditions, as ‘old’ or spent hormones, that have been processed by the liver, are eliminated via the faeces. When constipated, these hormones can be re-absorbed back into the bloodstream from the faecal matter due to the longer transit time, leading to hormonal disturbances.

Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (ADD) is one of the most common side effects, with a prevalence of between 5 to 35%, depending on the type of antibiotic taken. It is found that taking probiotics alongside antibiotics were an effective method to reduce the risk of developing diarrhoea. One particular form of AAD is Clostridium difficile infection, which manifests as chronic diarrhoea and in severe cases, colitis. This is of particular concern in the elderly and can sometimes be fatal.

Four strains of  probiotics in particular, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®, Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04™, Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07™, and Lactobacillus paracasei Lpc-37™ in the HOWARU Restore formulation have been demonstrated effectiveness in reducing the impact of antibiotic associated diarrhea in patients under antibiotic therapy with:

  • A significant reduction of the number of episodes of antibiotic associated diarrhea. 

  • A significant reduction in the duration of diarrhea and the number of liquid stools.

  • A significant reduction of diarrhea-associated symptoms such as fever, bloating and abdominal pain.

In conclusion, there is no evidence that adding probiotics to your regular routine is harmful to your health, and there are many potential benefits they may offer. When it comes to women’s health, probiotics may not only help certain stomach woes, but also support the health and balance of your vaginal microbiome. 

 

As rewarding as taking a probiotic can be, it is only one piece of the puzzle. A healthy diet, daily exercise, and eight hours of sleep are essential to the bigger picture of gut health. To recalibrate your diet to enrich microflora diversity, adding probiotic-rich foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented miso and vegetables, and yogurt is a must.

DIARRHEA

Research suggests that probiotics may be helpful for diarrhea often associated with the use of antibiotics prescribed for bacterial infections. Because antibiotics can kill off both bad and good bacteria in your gut, probiotics may act as a buffer, populating your gut with more good bacteria at the same time. Replenishing the gut with beneficial bacteria helps to rebalance the gut microbiome and prevent the development of the common side effects of antibiotics. It is best to wait 1 to 2 hours after taking your antibiotics before taking the probiotic supplement.

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