Probiotics have a number of great benefits , and scientists are constantly discovering newer uses for these microscopic powerhouses, especially when it comes to probiotics for women.
Probiotics used for constipation or general digestive well being can be the same for everyone. However, probiotics for women encompass a separate field that focuses on healthy urogenital tracts and probiotics during pregnancy.
Probiotics for women can help with peri-menopausal symptoms, breast and bone health as well as detoxification or removal of harmful drugs and compounds in the body.
What Do Probiotics Do for Women’s Health?
The use of best probiotics for women is on the rise, and for good reason. Gone are the days when the thought of our intestines teeming with millions of microorganisms used to be a cause for concern. Now, more and more women understand the beneficial role these microbes play in a healthy digestive system and vaginal environment.
In the bigger picture, women who suffer from specific ailments can find relief from their symptoms with probiotics supplements and foods:
- Hormonal Balance – Menstruation, pregnancy and menopause are just a few of the natural processes that affect the optimal balance between progesterone and estrogen. Probiotics can help to regulate hormone levels in women, through the safe breakdown and excretion of estrogen compounds. This helps with PMS, weight gain, migraines, hot flashes and other hormone-associated conditions.
- Urinary Health – Probiotics can also help women with bladder infections and UTIs. Cystitis, the inflammation of the bladder, is more common in women than men, as it is easier for infection to spread upwards from the urethra, causing burning and urges for urination, abdominal pain and nausea. These symptoms are reduced with a probiotic-rich diet.
- Osteoporosis – Probiotics are rich sources of lactic acid, organic compounds that stimulate the body’s capacity to absorb vital minerals like calcium, helping to strengthen bone mass and density. The presence of toxic bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to weak and brittle bones, especially in older women, so regular intake of probiotic supplements and foods may reduce the damaging effects of osteoporosis.
- Menopause – No, probiotics cannot stop menopause from occurring, but they can help with the recycling of estrogen to delay or reduce the onset of peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms, as well as treat age-related conditions like osteoporosis, which go hand in hand with menopause.
- Pregnancy and Childbirth – Women who take probiotics during pregnancy pass on these beneficial bacteria to their baby’s system during birth, and then when they breastfeed their child. These colonize the child’s intestines and promote better immunity by establishing and strengthening an anti-pathogen environment.
- Digestive Health – Probiotics amp up the digestive processes, helping with common GI problems such as bloating, constipation, and flatulence. They can also help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramps and bloating, and is twice as common in women as in men.
- Anxiety and Depression – Probiotic foods and supplements can help treat anxiety and depression, as well as related disorders like mood swings. Abundant levels of the “friendly” bacteria Lactobacillus can help bring about a more relaxed frame of mind and soothe away stress and tension.
- Immunity – Many kinds of probiotic bacteria are also immune boosters, as they enhance the intestinal mucosal wall, which can block access of pathogens and allergens to the rest of the body. This can help with everything from fighting infections to reducing the frequency and severity of allergies.
- Weight Loss – An imbalance of bacteria or microflora in the digestive tract can lead to weight gain and obesity. A regular intake of probiotic bacteria improves digestion, thereby promoting regular metabolism of fat and caloric content. Probiotics can also help with post-pregnancy weight loss.
- Skin Health – Certain kinds of probiotic bacteria have been proved to be beneficial at treating psoriasis, as well as acne and other skin conditions.
- Vaginal Health – Probiotics for vaginal health help to balance hormone levels, keep the pH level of the vagina within optimum levels, and some strains can even combat UTIs and vaginosis caused due to antibiotic use or bacterial infection. Thrush, a type of yeast infection, causes soreness, itchiness and vaginal discharge in women. It is another example of a condition that can be dealt with using vaginal probiotics.
What is the Best Probiotic for Women ?
Deciding on the best probiotic supplement or food is a matter of understanding which species and strains offer specific benefits for women’s health and wellness:
- Many studies show that lactobacillus bacteria are proficient at combating women’s health issues like UTIs and thrush. It is one of the best probiotics available as a supplement, with a combination of strains L rhamnosus and L reuteri proving to be highly effective in clinical trials.
- Bacillus coagulans, like lactobacillus, secretes lactic acid that makes the gastrointestinal environment hostile for pathogens. Women’s GI tract irritability can also be handled with probiotic supplements rich in strains like bifidobacterium lactis, which promotes regularity, breakdown of food for energy, and reduction of dreaded bloating.
- The best probiotics for yeast infection contain several strains of Lactobacillus that are ideal for replacing beneficial bacteria and prohibiting pathogenic activity in women’s urogenital and GI tracts after treatment. Lactobacillus is also the star in preventing C diff colitis, a GI diarrheal disease that can be fatal.
- Probiotics that contain bifidobacterium and lactobacillus strains, proven to be highly effective in digestive issues, are great options for women looking to restore balance in their digestive system and deal with unruly bloating and indigestion.
How Women Should Take Probiotics For Maximum Health Benefits
Consuming foods with probiotics as part of one’s daily diet is highly encouraged as a preventive measure for numerous digestive and intimate health problems. These natural probiotics include fermented foods with active cultures , especially those strains that have been proven through research to provide probiotics’ benefits.
Women can easily take probiotic supplements in the form of tablets, powder or as a fluid. It is not really possible to overdose on probiotics, and studies show that about 20 billion live microbes in a dose is the best amount for intake. Many other such probiotic pills are available that promote microflora in either the vagina or the intestines.
Many infections are treated with broad spectrum antibiotics that deplete favorable microflora, without providing replacement therapy to restore the balance between good and bad bacteria. Supplemental probiotics, rather than foods with probiotics, have higher microflora concentrations and are a better option for treatment.
As with any medication, women should always consult their physicians before starting probiotics supplements or adding probiotic-rich foods to their diet, to avoid possible interference with any prior medication, illness or pregnancy.
When Should Women Take Probiotics?
Women are recommended to take extra vitamins and probiotic supplements right from their mid-twenties, to combat the unpleasant physical and mental changes that come with age.
- Many women push their bodies to the limit, taking on daily chores and work schedules, dealing with the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth, and then facing the hormonal changes that affect their systems in later years. Probiotics can help improve energy levels and even mood, making it easier to tackle these challenges.
- One of the main situations in which women need to take probiotics is when their normal bodily microflora balance gets disturbed. This can happen due to any of the illnesses discussed above, from use of broad spectrum antibiotics, when traveling, or even from stress.
- It is important to have a plan for the intake of probiotics foods and supplements after undertaking a course of antibiotics to replenish beneficial bacteria in one’s body. Probiotics taken during traveling can help prevent infectious diarrhea by resisting pathogenic attack and keeping digestive processes running smoothly.
- Most women don’t need to worry about probiotic side effects ; mild bloating and gassiness are the most commonly reported ones. However, more serious side effects may occur with the intake of unpasteurized fermented foods when you’re pregnant, so it’s best to consult a doctor for more information.