Probiotics play an integral role to your general health and wellbeing. When considering the best probiotics for women, you mainly need to think about bacteria that can help the gastrointestinal tract and the urogenital system. Take a look at some of our recommended probiotics for women below.
Look for These Probiotic Strains for the Female Urogenital System
A woman’s vagina is home to about 50 different vaginal probiotics that play an important role in combating infections and maintaining overall health. However, certain factors can alter the balance and colonization of the vaginal probiotics, including hormonal changes, menopause, menstrual cycles, pH changes, and glycogen content.12
Women are naturally more prone to urogenital problems. In fact, some estimates suggest that one billion women suffer from non-sexual urogenital infections every year. This includes yeast vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis, and urinary tract infections. Using vaginal probiotics and maintaining balance in the vaginal tract may help to reduce and prevent urogenital infections.12
The probiotics in a healthy vaginal tract is mainly composed of Lactobacillus species, so most of the probiotics beneficial to urogenital health comprise some strain of Lactobacilli. Keep an eye out for the following pobiotic strains:
Previously mentioned for its ability to promote gut health, L. acidophilus has also been found to be integral to vaginal health as well. One study found that L. acidophilus effectively inhibited the pathogens associated with bacterial vaginosis and aerobic vaginitis.13 Another study found that oral administration of L. acidophilus could increase Lactobacilli in the vagina, thereby supporting a healthy urogenital ecosystem.14
Lactobacillus reuteri has been shown to produce antimicrobial molecules. This antimicrobial activity prevents the colonization of harmful pathogens, including those that cause common urogenital infections. Furthermore, studies found that a 14-day course of L. reuteri taken orally could help to restore a regular vaginal flora in postmenopausal women.15
Vaginal species of Bifidobacteria fulfill a similar protective role as Lactobacilli, primarily in the production of hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid, both of which can neutralize pathogens while maintaining balance within the vaginal microbiome. Strains that may help the urogenital tract include:
- Bifidobacterium breve
Added Benefits of a Probiotic with Cranberry and D-Mannose
Many recent vaginal probiotic supplements, including DrFormulas Nexabiotic Probiotics for Women, include cranberry and D-mannose in their formulations. Cranberry has commonly been used as a home remedy for urinary tract infections. Research backs this up and has shown that compounds in cranberries may reduce the risk of E. coli bacteria adhering to the cell walls within the bladder and urinary tract, which can ultimately reduce the onset of urinary tract infections.17
D-mannose, a simple sugar, appears to work via the same mechanisms to inhibit bacteria adhesion to the urinary tract lining. In a pilot study, a D-mannose compound was given to women with acute urinary tract infections twice a day for three days followed by once a day administration for 10 days. Researchers observed changes to symptoms and quality of life through clinical evaluation and a validated questionnaire. The results of the study showed that D-mannose had a statistically significant effect on quality of life and improvement of the UTI symptoms.18
Both cranberry and D-mannose can complement the effects of probiotics to further support urogenital tract health.
Probiotic Strains for Your Gastrointestinal Tract
Your gastrointestinal tract is home to a complex, diverse community of microorganisms, collectively known as your gut microbiota. These bacteria are considered by some to act as an organ within themselves and contribute to several major facets of your health, including regulating your immune system, promoting metabolic and digestive health, shaping and strengthening the gut lining, absorbing nutrients, and protecting your body against harmful pathogens. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the gut bacteria composition, can disrupt all of these systems and contribute to infections and inflammatory diseases.1
Research has also made a distinct connection between the gut microbiota and the brain known as the gut-brain axis. The gut is known to release neurotransmitters, hormones, and immunological factors that affect the brain. While more studies are required, current research suggests that balanced gut flora may reduce stress and promote an improved mood.2
Similar to the gut-brain axis, recent research suggests a bidirectional connection between the gut microbiome and the skin. This connection, known as the gut-skin axis, suggests that gut bacteria can contribute to skin health and affect the skin’s response to certain diseases. This has been evidenced by the way that dysbiosis and gastrointestinal disorders are often accompanied by skin issues, and further research could suggest that balancing the gut flora with probiotics may relieve or prevent common skin disorders, including acne, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.3
With all that in mind, maintaining your gut microbiota is more important than you thought. Some of the best probiotic strains for your gastrointestinal tract include:
Studies on rats found that regular consumption of Streptococcus thermophilus supported the growth and maintenance of tissue in the small intestine and improve digestive health.4 One report also found that S. thermophilus had a beneficial effect on skin ceramides, a natural lipid that makes up the structure of the skin’s surface.5
Lactobacillus acidophilus is one of the most widely researched probiotic strains. It may reduce high levels of LDL cholesterol, prevent diarrhea, relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and reduce symptoms of eczema and other skin disorders.6
- rhamnosus is another commonly used probiotic that has been studied for its effects on gastrointestinal infections and inflammatory bowel diseases. These studies also suggest that L. rhamnosus may stimulate immune responses and prevent certain allergic reactions.7
One randomized clinical trial found that Bifidobacterium bifidum could effectively alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and improve quality of life.8 A study also found that the probiotic strain had the potential to modulate immune responses.9 In another study, researchers found that daily supplementation of B. bifidum by pregnant women with a family history of eczema could prevent the skin disorder in their infants.10
One mouse study found that supplementing with Bifidobacterium breve reduced or prevented skin photo-aging from chronic UV exposure. This suggests that B. breve may be able to prevent effects of sun damage on the skin.11
Probiotics for Weight Loss
As probiotics affect your overall digestive health, certain probiotics may also help you maintain a healthy weight.
This strain of Lactobacillus has been shown in some studies to prevent the formation of fat tissue by inhibiting the absorption of dietary fats and increasing the amount of fecal fat excretion in humans.19 The results of one 12-week study showed that L. gasseri reduced abdominal visceral fat by an average of 8.5 percent with other significant changes in body mass, waist and hip circumferences, and body fat.20
In a diet intervention mouse study, researchers found that supplementing with Lactobacillus paracasei increased the amounts of a protein known as ANGPTL4. This protein is a lipoprotein lipase inhibitor that can regulate fat storage.21
Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovurus
In a study, subjects were either given a yogurt containing both L. fermentum and L. amylovurus or a control yogurt. The results of the study found that the subjects given the probiotics had reduced body fat by 3 to 4 percent, suggesting that these two strains may alter energy metabolism and body composition.22
Benefits of Prebiotics with Probiotics
Where probiotics provide new bacteria to repopulate and replenish your microflora, prebiotics help to feed existing bacteria. This allows bacteria in your gut and urogenital tract to grow and thrive.
Prebiotics are typically high in dietary fiber, which isn’t readily digestible, nor can it be absorbed. This is essential as it means the fiber won’t be broken down by stomach acids or digestive juices, allowing it to reach the large intestine, where most of your gut bacteria reside.23 Some common prebiotic foods include:
- Whole grains
Every woman has her own needs, so what works for your friend may not have the same effect on you. However, taking probiotics regularly can make a huge difference in your gut and urogenital health. Shop through our probiotics today to support your general health in the long term.