Posted by Alyssa Humphrey, Director, R&D on Jun 16, 2020 12:00:00 PM
If a woman's intuition is a 'gut' instinct, then we should do everything in our power to ensure a healthy gut microbiota.
Probiotics function as neuro-signallers, working with our brains, hormone cascade, and immune response.* So, we should pay attention to our gut, as the microflora inside it is vital to our wellbeing in numerous ways.
Although almost any high-quality lactobacillus probiotic with viable colony-forming units are often beneficial for both sexes, women have slightly different needs for their microbiota.*
Probiotics are 'good' bacteria that impact our body in several ways.*
We have known about them for quite some time, but we've only really scratched the surface about how vital gut microbiota is to our health in the last decade or so.
Probiotics are found in fermented foods and nutritional supplements. When we consume foods or products loaded with these living units, they help support the existing microbiome in our GI tract.*
One oversimplification of how they help keep us healthy is by preventing a 'power vacuum' from being created.* A healthy microbiome in our GI tract takes up space, preventing harmful bacteria from establishing highly-populated colonies of their own. When our healthy microflora is depleted, other bacterias that may not be as beneficial to our health are given free rein to grow.
Optimal health is about maintaining balance throughout the metabolic systems in our bodies. Balance is essential for everyone, but women are more prone to certain imbalances – hormonal and urogenital imbalances. Probiotics offer support by keeping healthy bacteria at ideal levels and prevent overgrowth of pathogens and other microbes.*
This goes beyond the upper and lower GI tracts for women. Probiotics can also help them maintain balance in the vagina and urogenital tract, which is important since nature, society, and lifestyle can all adversely impact healthy bacteria levels.* Everything from age to menstruation cycle affects women, especially their vaginal tract. So, recent studies have focused on how probiotics help keep that balance healthy and normal.*
Health areas that probiotics can help with:
Lactobacilli are the main species of bacteria naturally found in the vaginal tract. They are also one of the most common strains in supplements.
Saccharomyces boulardii, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Bacillus coagulans are usual suspects in many probiotic formulas as well. For women, a probiotic for her must have significant amounts of lactobacillus – they produce both lactic acid and peroxide. This is excellent for naturally balancing Ph levels.*
L. acidophilus is probably the most common strain in probiotic supplements. It's also one that has a lot of research behind it, perhaps because it's naturally prevalent in sauerkraut, kefir, miso, yogurt, tempeh, and some cheeses. L. acidophilus is extremely important for women because one of its bio-products is lactic acid, which helps maintain vaginal health.*.
Another strain to look for is L. crispatus. The depletion of vaginal lactobacilli is associated with discomfort in the urinary tract.* Foods or supplements high in L. crispatus have shown potential in this arena of women's health.*
L. rhamnosus GR-1, in conjunction with L. fermentum RC-14, have a positive impact on vaginal and female urogenital health.* Fems Immunology and Medical Microbiology claims these strains are safe for daily use.
Lactobacillus Gasseri is prevalent in a normal, healthy lower reproductive tract.* It also naturally produces lactocillin, which is a vital part of our natural regulation of microbial overgrowth.*
The first thing you should look for is a CFU listing on the label. CFU stands for colony-forming units. Basically, it's the number of viable living cells per dose. Some probiotic supplements just come with a list of the strains in milligrams. This can be a red flag that the company is not guaranteeing live units.
You also may want to look at the language indicating , 'at time of manufacture.’ A lot of products say something like, '30 billion CFU+,' but then the fine print says that the asterisk or plus sign means at the time of manufacture, so they don't guarantee any duration of shelf-life. This makes it challenging to know what you are actually getting in the bottle.
The whole idea is to assist your current living microbiota with new live cells. If you don't have a probiotic that has live cells, you're not doing yourself much good. So, find a high-quality product made by a company that practices truth in labeling and stands behind their shelf-life guarantees" - technically, supplements are not required to have expiration dates. This way, you can be confident about getting a probiotic that delivers what the label says.
The healthy bacteria in our GI, urogenital, and vaginal tracts act as both messengers and mini-colonists that can help keep other microbes at bay. For women's health in particular, the right probiotic also serves to keep everything balanced.* They help keep things running as smoothly as possible, increasing your comfort and overall health and wellbeing.*
 "Probiotics: What You Need To Know | NCCIH." https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know. Accessed 23 May. 2020.
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