Men’s Health & Probiotics
by David Perlmutter, M.D., Board-Certified Neurologist, #1 New York Times Best-Selling Author, Fellow of the American College of Nutrition
If you had to choose a single word that would represent the health goal of most men, I suspect it would be the word strength. And with good reason. Muscle strength, for example, is associated with a variety of health benefits, and even longevity. Cardiovascular strength similarly is associated with various health benefits including disease resistance, better blood sugar regulation, and even enhanced immunity. Cognitive strength is certainly a plus, and how incredible it is that we are now seeing scientific research that clearly correlates physical strength, the type gained by exercise, with brain function.
But what’s really exciting is the new emphasis being placed on inner strength. And to be sure, I’m not referring to fortitude or dedication, I am referring to the fundamentally important role of a strong and healthy array of gut bacteria as it relates to so many factors that pave the way for health. Maintaining and enhancing the health and diversity of the trillions of bacteria that live within us enhances this inner strength and helps balance the immune system, enhances detoxification, regulates hormone levels and activity, stabilizes metabolism, helps maintain healthy body weight, regulates mood, benefits digestion, and even enhances the production of important vitamins like, biotin, folate, B12, and vitamin K.
This is what makes probiotic supplementation so important for men’s health. Our bodies are challenged each day by so many factors that wreak havoc on the health of the microbes that live within us, upon which we depend to remain healthy and stave off disease. From food additives like artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives to sugar and even artificial sweeteners, it’s quite clear that the diet that so typifies our modern world jeopardizes the health of our gut bacteria. And even beyond food, it’s now really clear that our exposure to antibiotics, both to treat illnesses as well as in our foods as well as other medications like acid blocking drugs and even non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs also contributed to the destabilization of our resident microbes, thus threatening our health.
The really good news is that there is now extensive research that validates the effectiveness of probiotic supplementation in terms helping to keep our gut bacteria healthy and functional. Clearly, the best probiotic for men is one that contains specific types of bacteria that have been most studied and validated as being helpful. Some of the most valuable species include:
- Lactobaccilus gasseri is receiving a lot of attention these days because of its ability to help maintain normal body weight and its role in regulating metabolism.
- Lactobaccilus fermentum is beneficial because of its association with immune health. Newer research is focused on the roll that Lactobaccilus fermentum may play in mood and even cognitive function
- Bifidobacterium lactis is important because of its effects both in digestive health and constipation relief.
- Lactobaccilus paracasei is front and center across a wide array of studies that demonstrate its role in maintaining healthy insulin levels, supporting skin health, detoxification, liver function, and immunity.
Other important considerations in choosing a probiotic include:
- Potency – Always look for a probiotic that has a high CFU content. 50 billion CFU is an ideal recommendation.
- Tolerability – Always choose a product that is gluten-free, soy free, and dairy free.
- Stability – Your probiotic should give you guaranteed shelf life stability.
- Diversity – Go for products that supply at least 12 to 15 different bacterial species.