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Taking a probiotic supplement is one of the best things you can do for your body. The special microorganisms that we call beneficial bacteria dwell in your gut (intestinal tract) where they help maintain a healthful, balanced environment that is critical for overall health and prevention of disease.
Although you can get probiotics from fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchee—and you should enjoy these foods–many men find that taking a high-quality probiotic supplement makes the most sense and is simpler to do on a daily basis.
One major reason is you know you are getting large amounts of many different beneficial bacteria. The prebiotic benefit you get from selected foods is helpful, but it feeds the bacteria you have. It doesn’t provide a sufficient amount of active bacteria, nor the varieties that your body and mind need, for optimal function and well-being.
Also, if the foods have been pasteurized or processed, the likelihood of getting a viable prebiotic effect is even less. This is the case with most of the commercial kombucha teas that are touted for their probiotic benefit when in fact the acidic environment in kombucha actually kills off any beneficial probiotic bacteria.
Probiotic supplements, or just “probiotics,” isn’t just one kind of bacteria; Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the primary types, with many different species within each genus and many strains in each species. You want to ingest a variety of probiotics because different strains provide different health benefits.
What are those benefits? Here are 10 reasons men should take probiotics:
Prevent and treat antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
If you ever have to take an antibiotic for an infection such as bacterial prostatitis or pneumonia, there’s always the risk of developing diarrhea. Research has shown that probiotic supplements can help treat this condition successfully.
Help lower cholesterol.
How could beneficial bacteria lower cholesterol? That’s what scientists have been trying to find out. For now, investigators are working on several theories to uncover the mechanisms behind the ability of probiotics to reduce cholesterol and as a result, help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Probiotics could be a part of your cholesterol-lowering plan.
Banish depression and anxiety.
Is there anyone who actually wants to take antidepressants or other drugs? Two probiotic strains, helveticus and B. longum, have been effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression in people who have been diagnosed with clinical depression.
Although all the evidence is not yet in, studies suggest the intestinal environment has a significant impact on key factors of diabetes, including insulin resistance, inflammation, and body weight. Therefore, it makes sense to maintain a healthy bacterial balance in the gut by using probiotics. A new study in the British Journal of Nutrition, for example, found that probiotic supplementation was effective in preventing diet-induced insulin resistance in adults.
Ward off side effects of chemotherapy.
Use of chemotherapy, especially 5-fluorouracil, is often associated with diarrhea. Men who receive chemotherapy for prostate cancer or other cancers may benefit from using probiotics to help ward off this side effect. A British Journal of Cancer study reported that patients treated with 5-fluorouracil who were also administered rhamnosus GG experienced less stomach problems, less severe diarrhea, and had a shorter stay in the hospital than patients who did not take the probiotic.
Probiotics beat drugs for diverticular disease.
Men who experience uncomplicated diverticular disease (e.g., diverticulitis, diverticulosis) may benefit from taking probiotics. A one-year study compared a standard treatment medication (mesalazine), a probiotic ( casei subsp. DG), and placebo in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 210 individuals. The authors found that L. casei was as effective as mesalazine and that the combination of the two worked best.
Bulletproof your immune system.
Numerous probiotic strains have been shown to boost immune function and help prevent common infections, such as the common cold and flu. In a recent systemic review and meta-analysis, the authors reported that among children and adults with acute respiratory tract infections, use of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, compared with placebo, was associated with fewer days of sickness, fewer number of days of illness per person, and fewer days missed from school or work. Another study found that use of probiotics ( plantarum and L. paracasei), when compared with placebo, reduced the risk of acquiring common cold infections and significantly reduced symptoms.
Reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
This gastrointestinal disorder is common in men, but males tend to not seek medical treatment as often as women do. Probiotics could be the answer. Beneficial bacteria can help reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. For example, a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showed that a multi-strain probiotic supplement resulted in significant improvement in symptoms over a 12-week period.
Develop a lean healthy body.
Some strains of probiotics have been associated with dropping excess fat. Specifically, use of Lactobacillus gasseri resulted in a loss of 8.5 percent of belly fat mass over a three-month period in one study of more than 200 individuals, and the fat returned within four weeks when they stopped taking the supplement. Other research has shown that rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis are beneficial for obesity prevention and weight loss.
Helicobacter pylori has been linked to the development of ulcers, and probiotics can tackle these bacteria. A number of studies, including a new review in Helicobacter, suggest probiotics can be effective in reducing pylori infection and the occurrence of ulcers