5 Reasons Women Need Probiotics
Whether it’s John Stamos in a greek yogurt commercial, or one of your favorite women’s health or fitness blogs, I’m sure that at least once a week you’re reminded about the numerous benefits of probiotics. It would be easy to just regard them as another millennial health fad, except that people have been using them for for centuries. We all have good and bad bacteria in our bodies; simply put, probiotics are the good bacteria. There are various traditional probiotic foods that have been restoring health for generations. Foods like natto, miso, kimchi, tempeh, and sauerkraut all have rich cultural heritages and medicinal benefits.
While there’s a common belief that intestinal functions are limited to the absorption and digestion of food, a healthy GI tract is closely connected to your overall well being. There's a laundry list of benefits that probiotics have to offer, and the medical community has only recently discovered that it plays an important role in our immunity, hormonal balance, and emotional health.
When it comes to women’s health, you’d be hard-pressed to find a greater ally. Beneficial microbes metabolize and recycle hormones, including estrogen, thyroid hormones, and phytoestrogens (dietary estrogens). This promotes proper hormonal balance. We’ll discuss 5 reasons taking a daily probiotic supplement is essential in the fight for optimal health.
1. You’re Already at a Disadvantage
Anyone living in our modern, fast-paced, “work long, sleep less” culture could benefit from taking a daily probiotic supplement. Our busy schedules coupled with our western diets, filled with sugar, artificial colors, fatty meat and GMO’s, along with our use of antibiotics, give bad flora the advantage in the fight for your health.
You might not even realize what it is that you’re missing, but you know that something just isn’t right. If you’ve been sick or prescribed antibiotics recently, it’s important to repopulate your system with good bacteria to maintain a healthy balance. Any of the following conditions could be an indication that you need to include a probiotic supplement in your daily regimen:
- Yeast infections, thrush, cold sores, rashes
- GI sensitivity diarrhea/constipation
- Headaches, migraines, joint aches
- Bloating, IBS or partially-digested stools
“Time and health are two precious assets that we don’t recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted.” - Denis Waitley
2. Not Getting Your Vitamins? Better Get Your Probiotics
Giving your body vitamins and minerals isn’t just like doing an extra credit assignment in your biology class – it’s essential for life. Micronutrients help your body carry out the chemical reactions you need for mental and physical health.
Your body hosts organisms that can produce vitamins– more specifically the bacteria that live in your gut. Among the trillions of bacteria that live in your GI tract, there are some that produce B vitamins. To go a little more in-depth, bacteria in your gut produce three B vitamins: Biotin, Folate and vitamin B12. This trio is closely involved in energy metabolism, and nerve function. Vegetarians and vegans are at especially high risk for B12 deficiency because this vitamin is naturally found in animal products and generally not present in plant foods.
Probiotic gut bacteria are also capable of making vitamin K, a vitamin your body needs for clotting. Without enough vitamin K, you run the risk of bleeding to death when you get a cut or have a menstrual cycle. Vitamin K comes in two forms: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is important for bone health and for prevention of coronary artery disease, but it has limited availability in foods. The best sources include cheese, egg yolks, and fermented foods. Gut-friendly, probiotic bacteria help out here also by making some of the vitamin K2 you may not be getting through diet. This is one more important reason to make a daily probiotic, such as NuCulture part of your regular diet.
Additionally, probiotics also increase the digestibility, and processing of a number of nutrients, including:
3. Your Digestive System is Wearing Down
At birth, you were given essential bacteria from your mother. Studies show that if you were born vaginally and were breastfed, you probably had enough beneficial bacteria to start life with a diverse, very healthy gut flora. It’s been observed that infants who develop allergies have intestinal bacteria that are distinctly different from those of non-allergic infants, suggesting that the type of intestinal microflora is an important factor in forming allergic conditions. But for those who were born by c-section, or were given formula, chances are, your gut flora was less diverse and that put you at higher risk for developing digestive issues in the future.
Your gut flora is the generator that powers your digestive system. Back when you were born your digestive system’s generator was at full strength. It had a diverse platoon of trillions of battle-ready bacteria fighting off the bad bacteria, keeping things working the way they should. Now, picture that generator after 30+ years of life. Chances are your digestive system is far from running at peak performance.
But there are only two practical ways to repair, and recharge your gut flora. The first is to add probiotic-rich foods to your regular diet. But lots of these foods tend to be hard to find, and not to everyone’s taste preferences. That’s why medical professionals recommend taking a scientifically-backed daily probiotic supplement.
4. You’ve Been Taking Antibiotics for Years
Odds are, that in your lifetime, you’ve taken penicillin or some other prescription antibiotic more than a few times. I remember getting strep throat in 6th grade, feeling life was coming to an end, until I got the doctor’s prescription for Amoxicillin. My pediatrician, Dr. Fairchild, was quick to write me a prescription for antibiotics, but he didn’t tell us the antibiotics being used to kill my infection, were also killing off the good bacteria in my body—not that a 12 year old would understand that anyway. He also didn't warn us that the long term effects, if left untreated, could lead to chronic health issues. But it wasn’t the doc’s fault, that was 1992. But in recent years, research and clinical studies have brought gut health to the forefront. Now we know that having a diverse, and well balanced gut flora has been linked to overall health and well being.
“Having healthy vaginal bacteria means less smell, irritation, or discharge, and also means protection against issues like bacterial vaginosis, UTIs, and even HIV.” - Rebecca M. Brotman, PhD
5. Vaginal Health and Hormonal Balance
Very similar to the intestinal tract, the vagina is a finely balanced microbiome. Beneficial microbes such as probiotics can help keep the vaginal area somewhat acidic, making it difficult for potentially harmful bacteria to survive. Healthy vaginal flora can get thrown out of whack by a number of factors, including antibiotics, spermicides, and birth control pills. Probiotics also help with microflora balance to support vaginal health.
Beneficial flora metabolize and recycle hormones, including estrogen, thyroid hormones, and phytoestrogens from food sources, which can help offset symptoms of Menopause, PMS, and Perimenopause. In this way, they help maintain proper hormonal balance, and may protect bone and breast health as well.
So many factors can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut including stress and diet. Keeping your gut microbiome in balance is important for many reasons, one of which is to nurture good bacteria you need to help with the production of vitamin K and B vitamins. This is one more great reason to make a daily probiotic, such as NuCulture part of your regular diet. Learn more about the benefits of probiotics here.