Six benefits of probiotics for men
A study in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility(opens in new tab) indicates that there is a direct link between sex hormones and the microbiome. This means that women and men may have differing needs when it comes to probiotic supplementation, as we have different concentrations of different sex hormones. Some strains of probiotics for men may actually be better for you than standard types, or probiotics for women, as they’re tailored to your needs as a man.Aragona agrees that probiotics make a palpable difference to gut health. “The main benefits of taking probiotics would be replenishment of good bacteria in your gut, reducing digestive disorder symptoms, supporting mental health, boosting the immune system and helping with weight loss.”
You may have heard the term ‘gut-brain axis’ and wondered what it means. A study in the Journal of Medicine and Food(opens in new tab) supports growing evidence that there is a direct link between the gut and the brain. The gut microbiome may even have the power to control your food choices, as it uses the nervous system and the vagus nerve to communicate with our brains. There’s a reason the gut is known as the ‘second brain’. With this in mind, a healthy gut microbiome can support good mental health, and an unhealthy gut microbiome can contribute to mental health issues.
Aragona says that probiotics have the power to improve your mood and support better overall mental health. “Probiotics can also boost mood, cognitive function and can help to lower stress and anxiety. They may also prevent the development of mental health issues, such as depression in men,” he says. “However, of course, you cannot rely on probiotics, and if you are suffering with mental health issues you should consult a medical professional.”
“Probiotics can help your body to fight off illness and disease as they enhance the immune system, and of course a healthy immune system is key for a healthy functioning body,” says Aragona. “You can't totally rid your body of bad bacteria from your system, but you can balance your good and bad bacteria out by taking probiotics. Men with busy lives may find that they don't have time to ensure they are eating all the right foods every day, and so probiotics can help with this and help to balance out your system and keep your digestive system healthy and functioning.”
Another study in the Journal of Autoimmunity(opens in new tab) found that there are gender-specific differences in immunity, further suggesting that tailored probiotics for men might be a better choice. Additionally, the study indicates that our gut microbiome can produce so-called “happy hormones” serotonin and dopamine, illustrating the intrinsic relationship our gut health has with our mental health.
The journal Pharmacology & Therapeutics(opens in new tab) has published research that indicates that probiotics may be a new frontier in therapeutic aids to support mental health and cognitive conditions, such as anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorders and Parkinson's disease. It also supports the gender split in probiotic requirements due to the interaction of the microbiome with our sex hormones.
As a man, it’s important to care for your prostate, with one in eight men diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. This goes up to six cases in 10 in men who are 65 or older, with the average age of diagnosis being 66. With this in mind, taking care of your prostate might be of particular concern for men over 50.
There is evidence that probiotics can help to reduce inflammation in the prostate, according to a trial in La Clinica Terapeutica(opens in new tab). The trial found that probiotics reduce the bacterial load of E. coli and E. faecalis in urine cultures, which promotes better prostate health and can help prevent swelling of the prostate (prostatitis) which can lead to further prostate issues.
Nutritionist Jenny Tschiesche, of sugar-free and vegan vitamin brand Nutriburst(opens in new tab), tells LiveScience about the effects that probiotics can have on testosterone levels. “The stress hormone cortisol suppresses testosterone, and it has been proven in studies that probiotics can reduce cortisol levels therefore increasing testosterone levels,” she says.
Aragona says that after the ‘male menopause’, where testosterone levels drop off, some men see an uptick in their weight. “Probiotics can also help men to manage their weight. Aging and hormonal change can contribute to weight gain in men, especially when testosterone levels drop,” he says. “Probiotic strains such as bifidobacterium lactis can help with any unwanted weight gain and promote healthy weight loss.”
A study in Current Obesity Reports(opens in new tab) supports this point, indicating the beneficial effects on weight reduction and other metabolic parameters via probiotic involvement in gut microbiota modulation. In short, a healthy gut microbiome can help you keep the pounds off, although the study states that more human trials need to be conducted in the area.
WHY ARE MEN'S PROBIOTIC NEEDS DIFFERENT TO WOMEN?
So, how individualized should your probiotics be? Aragona says that men and women often experience different digestive issues, which is another reason they tend to require different probiotics.
“The type of probiotic strain being ingested is always dependent on the person, as not one person has the same gut bacteria or microbiome,” he says. “And the same goes for men's and women’s probiotics. While they offer similar benefits, ultimately, they have been made specifically for their sex. For example, while women more commonly experience greater issues in the lower digestive tracts, such as constipation or IBS, men experience more in the upper gastrointestinal such as acid reflux, and so the needs differ and it is best to stick to the probiotic made for you.”