Bacteria Aren’t All Bad…
Gut health and the bacterial microbiome in your stomach are getting more and more attention. Not only in the media, but from scientists too.
Do you know what those terms are and how they affect your health? They’re fast approaching buzzword status! If not, don’t worry, the scientific community is still learning themselves.
It’s one of the fastest growing areas of study in the health field, because there is breakthrough research showing that the bacteria in our stomachs (the good bacteria) might just be THE largest factor in determining whether we are healthy or not, and what ailments we suffer from.
It’s really interesting to find out that we are so reliant on these tiny organisms to live well.
The bad news is, if we have low numbers of these good bacteria, or if the bad bacteria outnumber the good, that’s when we can start to see health issues materialize.
The good news is, the lack or imbalance of good bacteria to bad bacteria is completely correctable! To boost the numbers of the good bacteria in your system, you can eat certain probiotic containing foods. Look for an upcoming article for more information on a probiotic diet.
If you want an even stronger, effective, and targeted approach, you can take probiotic supplements!
“Probiotic” is Greek For Good Bacteria
I will explain a little about what probiotics are and how they work, just as much as necessary to follow the rest of the information in this article. If you’re interested on learning more about this topic in-depth, please check out this article, where I elucidate much more on the subject!
So far we have discussed how there are good bacteria and bad bacteria in your stomach. There are different kinds of good and bad bacteria. If you were talking about one certain kind of bacteria, that would be called a strain.
Different strains have different effects on your body. There are strains that affect your mood, breakouts on your skin, weight gain, and how strong your immune system is.
I want to reiterate, since there are “good” and “bad” strains of bacteria, these can influence all aspects of your health in a positive or a negative way depending on which is the majority present in your gut.
Probiotics are supplements that supply your body with the good bacteria. Pro- meaning good, and -biotic meaning from living things.
When you take probiotics you’re taking living organisms that love to live in your stomach, help you digest your food, and make you more healthy in many ways.
They are necessary for humans to have for optimal living.
Women Are Special
But we all already knew that…
Women have some unique challenges when it comes to health compared to their male counterparts.
I was doing research on probiotics and came across some incredibly interesting information about women and their microbiome health.
I found something things that I consider shocking. I believe them to be need-to-know information for every woman, but I don’t think it’s common knowledge.
Keep reading below to find out what they are!
Best Probiotics For Weight Loss
Weight loss is a major reason why a lot of women come across the subject of probiotics and gut and colon health. It’s been proven that with all things being equally, it’s physiologically more difficult for women to shed pounds than men.
In today’s society, men are caring increasingly more about their appearance, but the majority of the beauty market is still targeted towards women.
Most women would tell you they feel pressure from the media and all kinds of sources to conform to a certain stereotype. No wonder the health and fitness industry is a trillion dollar business!
The ironic thing about that though, is that the obesity rate is at epidemic levels, and on the rise everywhere. Why is that happening in a society spending so much money on health and fitness? I believe the truth is, you’re behind the 8 ball from the beginning.
Processed foods and sugar have become incredibly prevalent over the years. Family’s that are way too busy, stop for something convenient rather than cook something healthy.
Misinformation floods the market. It confuses people on what they should be eating to maintain health. Low fat foods are loaded with sugar and labeled as “diet”.
Giant corporate lobbyists bribe scientists when publishing studies, and influence politicians when creating laws. There’s enough there to write another whole article about.
What does this have to do with weight loss? Processed foods, sugar, and artificial sweeteners are used as food by the “bad” bacteria in your gut.
When you’re eating foods that breed more of the bad bacteria than good, the balance gets out of whack, and you start to feel the effects.
When the bad bacteria is winning:
- Bad Bacteria feeds on the fat, sugar and chemicals, releasing more of the energy meaning you absorb more of the calories you eat
- Bad Bacteria produce hormones that encourage the storage of fat
- Bad Bacteria causes cravings for more of the bad food through the vagus nerve straight to your brain, helping to reproduce more of themselves and less of the good bacteria
(For more on how bacteria in your gut affects your brain and behavior, look for another upcoming article!)
When the good bacteria is winning:
- Good Bacteria feed on fiber and whole foods. This causes less breakdown and absorption of the fat and carbs allowing a higher percentage of calories you eat to pass through your system when using the bathroom
- Good Bacteria helps create B and K vitamins
- Good Bacteria decreases the hormones that encourage fat storage, and allow the fat to be eliminated
- Good Bacteria tells your brain to keep the healthy food coming, and makes you think it tastes good
Do you or someone you know think that ALL healthy food tastes gross?
It’s probably because their microbiome is dominated by bad bacteria!
If you eliminate the bad bacteria by eating healthy food, and supplement with probiotics to gain in the good bacteria, your taste buds will reset. It takes some time though. You will actually crave healthy food.
Yep, it is what it sounds like. It’s possible to take fecal matter (poo full of the donors gut bacteria) and transplant it into another being, and it will take on the properties of the donor.
There are studies where scientists have two sets of mice. They let one group get fat, and the other stays trim.
They take fecal transplants from the fat mice, and put them into some of the trim mice. The trim mice that got transplants gained weight and became fat with no other change in food or exercise, and the trim mice that did not get transplants stayed trim!
This is one of the reasons this subject is getting so much attention from the scientific community. The effect of your entire body health is so powerful, yet we are only scratching the surface of understanding it.
So what DO we know?
Well, we do know the best probiotics for weight loss. If you’re interested in probiotics for women to lose weight, then you’re going to want to buy a product like a colon cleanse for weight loss that contains one or more of the following bacteria strains…
- Lactobacillus gasseri
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus casei
The lactobacillus family of good bacteria seems to be the most impactful when it comes to affecting weight loss. Although the entire family can have a positive affect on weight loss, Lactobacillus Gasseri is the real star.
This bacteria has been proven in clinical studies to reduce the weight, waist, and hip sizes of participants when compared to a placebo group. You can check out that study here.
Lactobacillus Rhamnosus is no slouch either! In another study of Rhamnosus, there was no significant difference in weight loss between the supplemented group and the placebo group.
When the researchers went back through the results and removed the men from the study and only analyzed the women, there was a VERY significant difference in the weight loss of the women who supplemented with probiotics versus the women who only had a placebo!
This strain didn’t have much of an effect on men, which skewed the results when both sexes were examined together. That study can be found here, Effect of Lactobacillus Rhamnosus.
This is another reason the topic of gut health is getting so much research. Every facet needs to be tested to be understood.
This is also why it’s so important that you’re reading this article tailored specifically toward women. Women have many special needs and situations when it comes to their health.
The article concludes with the finding that this strain of good bacteria, “…helps obese women to achieve sustainable weight loss.”
Lactobacillus Rhamnosus will also be making another appearance later in the article for another topic, which makes it a great strain to take for multiple purposes!
Best Probiotics for Acne and Skin Health
From Acne, to Rosacea, Eczema, and Aging, troubles with skin health are very personal issues.
Medication or treatments that work for one person may not work for another. It’s often best to try a combination of methods for your skin issues, as there is no one best product or cure.
If there was, that person would be richer than Bill Gates himself!
The skin health industry is big business because of the premium put on peoples appearance in society today. A lot of times these issues can be all over the body, but especially on the face.
The face is a persons main focal point used to greet the entire world. It can be debilitating for some people to have blemishes and skin conditions on the one thing that represents us the most in society, and could possibly lead to feelings of shame or depression for some people.
Let me be the first to tell you, that you shouldn’t let your outward appearance determine your perceived value to the world! If you have skin health issues, try to find something that helps, but don’t let it get you too down in the dumps.
I’m here to hopefully educate you about another weapon in your arsenal you can use in the fight for healthy and clear skin — Probiotics!
For acne specifically, there is one stand-out probiotic for women that you want to supplement with.
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus
Just as you might think the name suggests, this particular strain of bacteria affects the acidity, or the pH balance, of your body.
One interesting tidbit of information is that good bacteria and bad bacteria don’t prosper in the same environments! If you have a majority of bad bacteria, they are going to make your body more hospitable to bad bacteria like themselves, and likewise if you have a majority of good bacteria, good bacteria will prosper and the bad guys will find it hard to proliferate.
Acne is created by clogged pores filling with bad bacteria. Bad bacteria LOVE low acidity environments, and will aim to keep things that way. (Low acidity is a high pH, and a high acidity is a low pH).
Lactobacillus Acidophilus will increase the acidity in your body to make it less hospitable for the bad bacteria, and more comfortable for themselves.
The less bad bacteria that can prosper, the less there is to fill up clogged pores, and the clearer your skin should become.
I also just want to mention, increasing the acidity in your body might not SOUND like a good thing, but it is! It’s important for optimal health to have your body’s acidity levels balanced, and not too low!
Skin conditions such as Rosacea, Psoriasis, and Eczema are all commonly believed to be caused by inflammation.
Inflammation is a dastardly thing, and it’s believed to cause more and more diseases as it’s studied including:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Crohn’s Disease
- Heart Disease,
- Parkinson’s Disease
The list goes on and on.
The great thing about probiotics is that it’s hard to find a strain that doesn’t positively fight against inflammation. It’s one of the largest “pro’s” (see what I did there?) to probiotics.
The sad part about inflammation is that it’s our own fault.
Our body’s immune system can attack our own cells in error, or can overreact to bad bacteria and things it deems as “not welcome”, and causes inflammation and diseases in their many forms.
If you’re looking for probiotics for women specifically for inflammation, then like I said you can’t really go wrong. Try to get as many strains as you can find from the following two families.
- Lactobacillus (all strains are helpful)
- Bifidobacterium (all strains are helpful)
Obviously, eliminating inflammation is impossible and to a certain point it has its benefits such as in cuts and bruises, but it’s the unhealthy amount that you want to cut down on. So many strains fight against inflammation that a wide variety of probiotic strains is best to cover your bases.
Probiotics For Wrinkles
Aging is one large factor that changes skin health. Some might think there’s nothing you can do, it’s just part of getting older.
We all know someone though, who looks incredible for their age. If they can look that great why can’t we? We can!
Your genetic lottery is one of those things that’s near impossible to fight against, but if you use all the tools and knowledge at your disposal, and you’ll have the best version of yourself you can have with what you were given.
Probiotics help with inflammation which is becoming the arch villain in medicine. It causes many diseases and health conditions.
Reducing inflammation also helps you look younger!
Your cells are healthier, fully hydrated but not bloated, your skin is less red and puffy, the lines that you do have don’t look as deep and noticeable.
Oxidative stress and free radicals are another cause of aging, which in it’s simplest form is damage to your cells that doesn’t get repaired, and gets replicated when your cells multiply.
The trick is to minimize this damage so you look younger for longer!
The reaction of oxygen in the various chemical reactions in your body naturally create these free radicals and oxidative damage. Everyone has it.
The thing is, that the body also naturally creates something to fight this damage called antioxidants! You’ve probably heard of those before.
With everything in check, the antioxidants that the body creates to fight the free radicals coming from the normal processes of being alive, are enough to keep the damage at bay.
It’s easy to overwhelm your body’s natural antioxidants though, and it becomes a losing war.
Everyone has noticed that people who have smoked for a long time tend to look older and have more wrinkles around their mouth and eyes. It’s because of all the extra damage smoking does, the body cant make enough antioxidants to prevent the damage.
Some things that increase free radicals in your system and/or decrease your body’s natural production of these anti oxidants are:
- Exhaustion (not enough sleep or even working out too hard without recovery time)
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Too much time in the sun without sunscreen/tanning beds
To have the best skin you can genetically have, I highly recommend taking probiotics and minimizing the behaviors in the list above!
The probiotics will set you up biologically in the best position reducing inflammation, bloating, redness, irritation, puffiness and cell damage!
What are the best probiotics for women for skin care? All of them!
As in the inflammation section of this article, there are so many factors that go in to skin health, and so many strains of good bacteria can help with these, that you really should just supplement with a wide variety.
The great thing about probiotics is that they have so many positive and overlapping effects, if you want to improve one area of your health specifically, you’re most likely going to be improving other areas at the same time whether it is a focus for you or not.
Probiotics in Makeup
One of the coolest new areas of research when it comes to skin health and probiotics, is the study of topical probiotics.
So far we’ve been talking about probiotics from an internal standpoint, but there’s actually studies that show that not only are probiotics enormously helpful when ingested but they are also beneficial when placed directly on your skin.
This study shows that Lactobacillus Plantarum was shown to increase your skins health in ways such as anti-inflammation, durability against damage and chemicals, and reduced “skin microflora”.
That means that it’s an anti microbial, and we all know acne is caused by bacteria. But wait, Lactobacillus Plantarum is a microbe, but it acts as an anti microbial?
That is pretty cool. I can’t think of anything else that illustrates the war of good versus bad bacteria that takes place inside all of us any better than that.
So now manufacturers are seeing this research and are starting to put probiotics into their topical products. Not only acne washes, but makeup and sunscreen, scrubs, and masks.
I am a big fan of attacking problems from as many different angles as possible for the best results, and getting probiotics from the inside and out is a very powerful tactic for ultimate skin health.
Probiotics To Fight Osteoporosis
Bone health is an issue that really is unique to women. Men just naturally don’t have as widespread of a problem with it.
Osteoporosis prevention is something that really needs to be in the forefront of women’s minds in general, but especially for aging women. This often occurs after menopause and is caused by dropping estrogen levels.
Bones get brittle and easier to break. Little falls can become big ordeals. If a woman is getting on in age and takes a spill and breaks her hip or pelvis for example, the road to recovery is very long and difficult, and she may not even return to her previous level of mobility.
For women, it’s never too early to be concerned about bone health. The sooner you start, the better off you will be. The Mayo Clinic mentions that you can increase the amount of bone mass you have, its not a set genetic amount.
The higher you can get your bone mass, the more bone you have “in the bank” and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.
Probiotics can play a large role in building your “bone bank”. Again, you can reap these benefits from many strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. This study shows multiple ways that you can get bone benefits from probiotics such as:
- Making minerals more soluble (easier for your body to absorb, thus absorbing more)
- Digesting more minerals by creating Phytase, which counteracts Phytate (Known to bind to minerals causing them to be eliminated without being digested)
- Reduces intestinal inflammation increasing overall efficiency
- Results in multiple paths for increased bone density
The mineral referred to of course, is mainly calcium. Milk is known as a great source of calcium, but did you know green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale have higher concentration of calcium per calorie than milk?
Also, I’d like to point out the Lacto in Lactobacillus. I think that’s an interesting thing to point out the bacteria was named partly for one of its many abilities, which is more easily breaking down milk and lactose for better mineral absorption.
So if you’re a woman, take your probiotics for your bone health to help avoid osteoporosis. It’s never too late to start making deposits into the “bone bank”!
Probiotics For Breast Health
Breast health is another challenge that is mostly unique to women. Breast cancer is incredibly prevalent, and education on prevention and detection is the key to beating it.
Believe it or not, breasts have quite the collection of bacteria in them. As with all the other places bacteria congregate, such as the stomach or on your skin, these collections can be made up of good or bad bacteria as the majority.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria actually make their way into breast tissue via the gut, so taking supplements is helpful.
If the good bacteria are in the majority, then you will benefit from the anti-microbial and ant-oxidant effects of the friendly bacteria. This helps keep the bad guys out, and fight potential cancer cells!
One of the reasons there is a congregation of good guy bacteria in the breasts is because of the milk production when pregnant.
It’s possible for the bacteria profile of breast milk to be transferred to the baby, and is one of the ways newborns immune systems are seeded with ways to fight off sickness.
Not all women want or end up having children, but I felt it was important to share a pretty insane factoid. It has been proven that the longer that you are able to breastfeed, the healthier your breasts are.
The amount of time spent breastfeeding can actually reduce the risk of breast cancer! And this isn’t just an anecdotal, decimal point increase either.
In the peer reviewed journal The Lancet, there was a study titled, “Breast cancer and breastfeeding:..” that determined there to be a 4.3% reduction in breast cancer risk for every year spent breastfeeding! This figure is additive for combined time with ALL children.
That is huge!
Probiotics for Vaginal Health
So here is one of the other bombshells I learned about when researching probiotics for women… women have a second and unique microbiome of their own!
A microbiome could be described as a tiny self sustaining environment containing all kinds of life, within a larger life form.
The stomach, intestines, and colon is considered the ‘gut microbiome’ because there are more bacteria and organisms living in there keeping us healthy than we have cells that make us human. Both men and women have stomachs, intestines, and colons (barring unfortunate medical situations), but only ladies have a second microbiome.
Their lady parts!
The vaginal microbiome is physically separate from the gut microbiome, but studies have revealed that it is possible to improve the health of the vaginal microbiome through oral supplementation.
60% of patients at the beginning of this study about supplementing probiotics for vaginal health, had bacterial vaginosis. That is science speak for an undesirable ratio of good to bad bacteria in the vagina. After 1 month of supplementation, that number dropped to just 10% still having the condition. These are the probiotic strains that worked for these women:
- Lactobacillus Fermentum
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosus
These would be great to supplement with if you feel like this is an area where you could use some improvement. This same strains are also known to help with yeast and urinary tract infections.
The mechanism that this works through is much the same as we discussed in the skin health section of this article.
The bad bacteria cause these infections, and they enjoy living in a pH environment that is less acidic. The good bacteria like things more acidic, so if you have more of the good bacteria than the bad, the environment will tend to be more acidic.
This causes fewer of the bad bacteria to be able to survive, lessening the chances and occurrence of infection.
Probiotics For Fertility
This bacterial vaginosis, or vaginal dysbiosis, which is characterized by low populations of good Lactobacillus bacteria (such as Lactobacillus Gasseri), and higher populations of bad bacteria like Candida and Gardnerella Vaginalis carries quite a few risk factors when it comes to fertility.
This is mostly due to the fact that pH levels rise in an environment with a majority of the bad kinds of bacteria, which means the vagina is less acidic, and much more susceptible to bacterial infections.
This coupled with the fact that microorganisms can pass the cervix, which is the guardian to a woman’s reproductive system, risk can be increased for:
- Pre-term birth
- Uterine Infections
- Diseases that affect health and survival of baby
These are of course just possibilities, but the risks of poor women’s health should be known.
The good news is that you can do something about it! Supplement with probiotics. There really is no downside. They have way less complications, interaction issues, and side effects than medications and pharmacy drugs.
Babies Get Their Mothers Microbiome
Vaginal birth or C-section? Take this new research into consideration.
A soon to be mother might be unsure, or feel strongly about one or the other of these options when it comes to the birth of their child. It’s a very personal decision, and there are many reasons why people choose one or the other.
Scientists and doctors are starting to discover, however, that babies born through vaginal birth get sick less often, and even turn in to adults that get sick less often, when compared to their c-section birthed counterparts!
This is due to the mothers bacterial microbiome in her birth canal. When a baby is born vaginally, it picks a lot of moms bacterial specimens, and these are the first seeds to the babies immune system.
Through it’s skin, eyes, ears, nose, and even it’s mouth the baby obtains it’s first defenses to the outside world that it’s never been exposed to until now, at birth.
Babies born through c-section miss out on this opportunity.
These babies tend to have more allergies, and get sick more often. It’s not just while they are an infant, the trend looks to continue into adulthood.
Breast milk is another way that babies can get some of Moms immune system. Not all moms end up breast feeding their children however.
There is a strong correlation with babies that were born via c-section and also not breastfed, to having more immunity and allergy issues throughout life compared to children in the opposite boat.
As I mentioned, this decision can be very personal and sacred for a new mother, so always do what you feel is best for you and your situation.
Best Probiotics For Women
I love to do research, and probiotics and gut health are topics that I find fascinating.
I originally stumbled up on this subject when searching for ways to improve my own health.
What I learned changed my health forever.
Through my journey of learning about this topic, I noticed there was a lot of information that was specific to women and their unique needs. I hope I have helped someone out there with this info, as much as it’s helped me.
Click below to read my review of my favorite colon cleanse product. It really helped me feel less bloated and jump start my weight loss.
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