How good are probiotics for women? Can probiocts help women shed some pounds? How do you about choosing the best probiotics. Read on to find out more in addition top brands and possible side effects of probiotic supplements.
How good are Probiotics for Women?
Regardless of whether you reach out for kefir, yogurt, kombucha, you become part of the myriads of people who currently believe in the power of probiotics. These crop of people understand and appreciate the role of probiotic bacteria in the promotion of good health and treatment of diseases that have otherwise been a disturbance to people. Medics are now prescribing probiotics as indications of various illnesses.
It is nowadays basic knowledge that to women in particular, probiotics are helpful in various capacities. Most of these are feminine issues that are commonly associated with women. Here are some of them:
Treatment of antibiotic induced diarrhea
Your gut has a large surface area to volume ratio and is therefore home to trillions of probiotics. Competition for the resources is however high and the two, good and bad have to be in constant shift to and fro equilibrium. Dysbiosis results when the normal ratio of 1:5, bad to good respectively, is breached.
In the process of competitive exclusion, supplementation is necessary. This happens when antibiotics are taken for a long time disrupting the balance of yeast, bacteria and other organisms. It is more expensive to dose on vancomycin to treat the ADD, and supplementation with probiotics could be your savior in this trying financial times.
Probiotics assist in the modulation of various signaling pathways. The signals transduced therefore promote anti-inflammatory action[i]. This is important in the treatment of allergic reactions that occur in the gut. This includes inflammatory bowel disease and coeliac disease brought about by an allergic reaction to gluten.
Probiotics have an influence on the brain-gut axis. The connection is simple. When you have a happy tummy, your mood should be good. Tummy ladened with IBS has shown to induce tension and fear of the unknown in women. The feel good effect probiotics leave in the gut when you have consumed them configures a well-modulated immunity that sends positive responses to the brain.
Improved urogenital health – it is worthwhile noticing that the vagina is a jungle of bacteria that constitute its ecosystem. The dominant strain is the lactobacilli which makes the vagina acidic. The acidic environment is a catalyst of growth of harmful microorganisms. This calls for proper pH balance away from the end effects of antibiotics, spermicides and some vaginal pellets.
Candidiasis, one of the commonest problems that affects females, can be exacerbated by antibiotics making yeast thrive in the absence of bacteria. Probiotics therefore, such as yogurt, enable the replenishment of these bacteria. You might have heard of yogurt being used topically on the vagina or orally for systemic balance of normal flora. Lactobacilli helps in the treatment and management of vaginosis.
Care however should be taken to use combined therapy and not use probiotics as the mainstay or first line of treatment of vaginosis as this may lead to complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease. It is therefore advised that women take probiotic supplements while at the same time consuming something alkaline. With regard to UTI’s, the strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri are most effective. One of the causative bacteria of vaginitis Gardnerella vaginalis, has also been shown to be inhibited by Lactobacillus.
Management of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Easing bowel movement and treatment of constipation – you may have taken drugs indicated for the management of IBS. This may or may not have worked though it wouldn’t be necessary to seek conventional interventions. This was noted in one study in which probiotics with the strain lactobacillus plantarum, were taken by 20 IBS patients. This one strain was shown to relieve abdominal pain associated with IBS. In addition, bowel movement was also improved. Addition of another strain, the Bifidobacterium lactis further led to the ease of bowel movements yet in another study.
Nourishment of breast milk
With probiotics promoting good health in the mainstream media, active cultures are on higher demand. It is advisable that active cultures in populations of Colony Forming Units be high. Breast milk is one that contains active culture. It is known from studies done on mother’s milk that there is a prominent microbe passed through breast milk into the baby’s gut, Bifidobacterium infantis. When introduced in the initial days of life, it helps in the digestion of milk sugars.
Note that milk sugars may lead to diarrhea owing to increased osmotic properties introduce in the luminal contents of intestines. Lactobacillus also allows proper digestion of milk lactose. This is mostly essential in the prevention of oral thrush and diaper rash in babies.
One study done in 2011, indicated that when infants were introduced to strains of Lactobacilli, they showed less susceptibility to allergic diseases. Microbial diversity with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria early in life reduce the risk of developing allergic diseases as opposed to colonization by Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile[ii] (Sjögren YM, Jenmalm MC)
Treatment of skin infections such as eczema
studies based on the report published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology in 2008, probiotics can be indicated for the treatment of eczema especially the type atopic dermatitis. In line with the gut-brain-skin axis postulated by a Chinese study on subjects with seborrheic dermatitis, shows that disruption. Regulation of immune response has also been used to explain the anti-inflammatory profile of probiotics in contexts of allergic diseases such as eczema.
your mouth contains over 300 different strains of bacteria. Some of these are harmful bacteria waiting for the opportune moment when they can take advantage of dysbiosis. This leads to fungal infections and gingivitis.
Probiotics try maintain the balance between the two so that you have a proper oral hygiene. Lactobacillus reuteri LR-1 or LR-2 can help promote proper oral health. It does this by preventing plaque formation and further formation of calculi. Another strain, the Weissella cibaria has also been included in mouthwash to freshen the breath by preventing production of sulfur by microorganisms in the mouth.
choose your probiotic culture based on knowledge. Strains such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae var boulardii and Enterobacter halii have been well studied and elucidated and are known to cause weight gain. Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus ingluvei also result in weight gain. However, strains such as the Lactobacillus gasseri (European Journal of Nutrition, 2010) and Lactobacillus plantarum have a higher likelihood of causing weight loss on the other hand
Choosing the Best Probiotic for Women
See, probiotics are generally considered safe since you are only replenishing what you should normally have in your body. Take the United States for instance, probiotics are considered dietary supplements and therefore do not undergo strenuous testing and approval processes that drugs do.
You therefore have no choice but to depend and trust what is written on the label and the manufacturer. There’s however no guarantee that what they have written is true. Here are some of the tips you could borrow:
- Let your primary care giver know that you are getting probiotics – your health care giver is an important determiner to be included in your health choices. You never know, the seemingly harmless probiotic might interact with your condition or disease. One good example of this is in the case of immune-compromised patients.
- The formulation/dosage form – choose the delivery form of your choice. This means that you could choose between purchasing supplements in suppository forms or oral forms. Note that suppositories are vaginal tablets and are inserted into the vagina with follow-up instructions such as no visiting the loo. It is also more invasive and may be inconvenient to use. Therefore, it is important that merits and demerits be considered before choosing the delivery form. The form it is formulated in also determines whether the bacteria will reach the end target in its viable form such as to constitute the CFUs stated on the label. It also determines the biological, physical and shelf life. It is a waste when the delivery form is corroded with gastric acid and probiotic bacteria end up being killed in the process. Rather go for enteric coated pills or capsules that will ensure that they are delivered to the intestines.
- Packaging – check the packaging for any breaches. These bacteria need to be kept in intact ranges of CFUs and therefore should be packaged in containers providing a conducive environment for their survival. Probiotics with some pre-biotic of controlled amount could be better than that without since growth is still promoted until plateau stage of their growth when there is a high competition for the resources available. Nowadays, containers preserve the cold of the internal environment and thus do not necessarily need to be refrigerated.
- Specific strains included – remember that strains cause different effects on your body. A good example is the weight gain- weight loss pandemonium. It will be wise to first ensure that the basic strains are first included then proceed to special strains. Get a probiotic with at least the following species: L. acidophilus (candidiasis), B. longum, B. bifidum, L. rhamnosus (travelers’ diarrhoea), L. fermentum (healthy gut).
- Known the difference between CFUs and number of strains – sales pitches need not get into your head hard. Make a wise decision by choosing quality instead of quantity. What is most important? You should think about the number of the different strains than the number of bacteria in a strain. More often than not, the CFUs per strain will be within the recommended range but the number of strains might be the limiting factor. It is also known that the more the number of strains, the more the synergy and the greater the influence on your health.
- Read the label information – check out for inclusion of important information on the label. Be sure to check for the genus, species and strain such as Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC55730. Then check the number of organisms in a single dose and how frequently you should take it. More preferably, take the one with more than 7 strains. Check the viability of the culture. Some state viability at time of manufacture while others state that they have active cultures. Rather go for ‘’live and active cultures’’.
- Make sure that you understand the storage information then choose the one that will suit your economic state and convenience. Though make sure that you keep all probiotics away from moisture and heat.
- Check important certifications – it should be certified by an independent third party. This assures of quality.
- Its viability in curing your ailment – get a probiotic that will be useful to your target. For instance:
Saccharomyces boulardii – weight gain, travelers’ diarrhea, antibiotic induced diarrhea
Lactobacillus bulgaricus – lactose intolerance
Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus plantarum – IBS and indigestion
Lactobacillus rhamnosus, L. fermentum – eczema
Lactobacillus acidophilus – bacterial vaginosis, vaginitis
- Product expiry dates – note that it is pertinent that what you pay for is what you get. Ask yourself whether the CFU stated is that at the time of manufacture meaning that most could have probably have lost their viability. Make sure that the manufacturer guarantees you of the CFU stated and its potency so that you benefit fully as the customer or client.
Best Probiotic Supplements and Brands for Women
Basing on the criteria above here are some the best probiotics supplement brands for women.
BlueBiotics Ultimate Care
Endorsed by doctors as one of the few brands that includes S. boulardii which is purportedly expensive to include.
Highest % of living cultures among top brands tested – by far
Capsules designed to results stomach acid corrosion
CFU: 61 Billion
Boulardii as the main one and 11 other strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus to Bacillus Coagulans,
Price range: $49.95 – 112.00
Ultimate Flora Critical Care
Capsules designed to results stomach acid corrosion
30 vegetable capsules of probiotic supplement
25 billion live cultures per capsule
10 scientifically studied probiotic strains
Once a day probiotic
Dairy and gluten free
Price range: $35.99 – 65.89
Provides 1 billion CFUs of probiotic bacteria per serving to support a healthy digestive system B. infantis 35624
Price Range: $22.00 – 53.76
Has capsules designed for resistance to stomach acids
The probiotic is made of live freeze dried yeast cells of the Saccharomyces boulardii.
Capsules are vegetarian Saccharomyces boulardii
5 Billion$33.48 – 128.99
Possible Side Effects of Probiotics in Women
Probiotics have shown a variety of side effects in women. However, effects that are derived from one species may not necessarily result in side effects in another consumer. Advice to you is that when you get side effects contact and seek medical attention to regulate any complications and even get a recommendation for another better probiotic.
Before you consume any probiotic, make sure that you have researched well on the brand or species so that you are ready for unwanted effects. There are reliable websites including the manufacturers’ and review platforms from which you can learn what side effects to expect so that it is not a surprise.
More information is needed in post-marketing surveillance of probiotics and your reports could be essential in the documentation of more side effects earlier not realized.
Some of the side effects that you could expect from probiotics in general are bloating, infections, diarrhea, constipation, allergic reaction characterised by inflammation on the skin or hives. Fortunately, they tend to be mild and mostly digestive.
Sources & Citations
 Beerepoot Ma, ter Riet G, Nys S, et al. Lactobacilli vs antibiotics to prevent urinary tract infections: a randomized, double-blind, noninferiority trial in postmenopasual women. Arch Intern Med. 2012 May 14; 172(9):704-12. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2012.777.
 Nikhil Kumar, Beauty Behera, Sai S. Sagiri, et al. Bacterial vaginosis: Etiology and modalities of treatment–A brief note. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011 Oct-Dec; 3(4): 496-503. doi: 10.4103/0975-7406.90102.
 Joana Castro, Ana Henriques, Antonio Machado, et al. Reciprocal Interference between Lactobacillus spp. and Gardnerella vaginalis on Initial Adherence to Epithelial Cells. Int J Med Sci. 2013; 10(9): 1193-1198.
 Dimidi E, Christodoulides S, Fragkos KC, Scott SM, Whelan K. The effect of probiotics on functional constipation in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Oct; 100(4):1075-84. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.089151.
Niedzielin K, Kordecki H, Birkenfeld B. A controlled, double-blind, randomized study on the efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum 299V in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2001 Oct; 13(10):1143-7.
[i] Lemberg DA, Ooi CY, Day AS. Probiotics in pediatric gastrointestinal diseases. J Pediatric Child Health 2007; 43:331-336.
[ii] Altered early infant gut microbiota in children developing allergy up to 5 years of age. Sjögren YM, Jenmalm MC, Böttcher MF, Björkstén B, Sverremark-Ekström E. Clin Exp Allergy. 2009 Apr; 39(4):518-26.