Probiotics for Women May Help Manage Menopause Symptoms Here’s everything you need to know

If you hear the word germs, chances are the first ones that come to mind are the ones that make you sick. But not all germs are bad. There are trillions of so-called germs living symbiotically with humans inside your gut.

What we’ve learned over the years is that there’s a lot of crosstalk between your gut microbiome and your body, said Gail Cresci, a digestive disease researcher and registered dietitian for the Cleveland Clinic. HealthEssential. There are certain gut microbes that can produce small molecules and that can also help synthesize certain vitamins, enzymes and hormones needed by our body.

In exchange for food and shelter, groups of good bacteria work to digest and protect nutrients from food as well as maintaining the health of other body functions such as regulating emotions, boosting brain health, and keeping the immune system in tip-top shape.

Your intestines are the foundation of human health. Women, in particular, benefit from maintaining a balanced gut microbiome. The composition of the gut microbiome of females appears to differ from that of males with different bacterial species important in the management of menopausal and postmenopausal symptoms.

One way to keep bacteria happy and healthy is to take probiotics for women. Probiotics are foods containing living microorganisms that resemble those that live in the human body. Below we’ve listed how probiotics help the gut, how they protect women at critical life stages, and top picks from our esteemed To flow Advisory board members.

Your gut bacteria are home to all kinds of bacteria, fungi and viruses. While some work with each other’s humans, others aren’t so keen on helping out. These bad bacteria exit your body as they spread toxins or cause disease. It is not possible to get rid of every single hostile microbe, there are approximately 100 trillion microbes and 1,000 bacterial species living in the gut.

Instead, focus on maintaining a balance between good and bad microbes. Your gut is considered healthy when the number of good bacteria outnumbers the bad. The key to doing this is to keep a diverse number of microbes in your system. Research shows that a diverse gut microbiome is associated with health and longer life, while less diverse guts are related to chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes.

Probiotics work by diversifying the microbiomes. These health-promoting microbes contain bacterial species with loads of health benefits. For example, probiotics commonly contain Lactobacillus which help prevent bacterial infections and intestinal damage. Another is Bifidobacterium with decades of research linking the species to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, treatment of diarrhea and the elimination of disease-causing insects.

There is research that an unbalanced gut appears to contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. However, the supplements we currently have available do not correct the underlying presence of dysbiosis in neurodegenerative diseases, says Kellyann Niotis, MD, a preventive neurologist and To flow Advisory board member. We need more research in this area, there is promise but we are not there yet.

Another thing to keep in mind is that probiotics are not the same as prebiotics, another popular option for improving gut health. Instead of introducing new ones, prebiotics are foods used to feed existing gut microbes.

As we age, there is a natural shift towards bad bacteria and less gut diversity. This contributes to a weakened immune system and an increased risk of disease. For example, changes in gut bacteria increase the risk of heart disease, the number one killer of American women, and may actually accelerate the aging process itself.

Another factor that creates an unhealthy gut over time is menopause. Menopause causes fluctuations in estrogen levels that shift the balance of the microbiome. This change kills several good bacterial species, including those responsible for metabolizing estrogen. The loss of these bacteria further contributes to low estrogen levels during menopause and post-menopause.

If you don’t have the type of bacteria and fungi that make up estroboloma [the group of gut bacteria responsible for regulating estrogen]you won’t bring down estrogen, Mindy Pelz, hormone health expert and author of The restoration of menopause said Good + Good. If estrogen is not metabolized, it gets stored in the body and that is when estrogen can become toxic. If your cells don’t use it, it gets stored in your tissues and this can lead to cancer. Low estrogen levels and increased inflammation from an unbalanced microbiome further increase the risk of endometrial cancer and osteoporosis in menopausal women.

An unbalanced gut also contributes to most of the symptoms seen during menopause. Hot flashes, for example, can be associated with inflammation caused by an intestine that is unable to keep dangerous germs and pathogens out. The intestine is also indirectly involved in weight gain. As estrogen levels plummet, the body becomes less efficient at distributing fat, causing a disproportionate amount of it to go to your midsection.

Probiotics can help manage the effects of menopause. Research suggests that a healthy microbiome increases calcium absorption and prevents osteoporosis. 20% of bone loss occurs during menopause and reduces the risk of breast cancer. Also, postmenopausal women are more vulnerable to weight gain and heart problems. Taking probiotic supplements appeared to help manage body fat and blood pressure.

Probiotics may also help you get a good night’s rest, a common complaint among menopausal women. A small 2017 study identified a link between taking probiotics and reducing night sweats and hot flashes. Sleep quality would further improve as some probiotics increase the number of bacteria involved in regulating anxiety and depression.

Probiotics are found in foods or supplements

You can find probiotics in foods like Greek yogurt and some fermented products like kimchi and kombucha, although not all fermented foods provide probiotics. Commercial sourdough bread and pickles, for example, are processed after fermentation and contain no live probiotic species. Some non-fermented foods like milk and smoothies add microorganisms later in the product manufacturing process, though the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says it’s unclear whether these count as probiotics.

A second option for acquiring probiotics is through dietary supplements. These over-the-counter medications are available at local pharmacies and are available in pill, liquid, or other forms. Because there are many different probiotic species and dietary supplements tend to mix bacterial strains together, there is no recommended dosage to take per day. Normally, most probiotic supplements will have you take one a day to support digestion and gut health.

Probiotic supplements have a unique measurement system

Probiotic supplements are measured in colony forming units (CFU). This unit expresses the number of viable cells in the supplement. The average probiotic supplement ranges from 1 to 10 billion CFUs per serving, although the NIH warns that a higher CFU count doesn’t mean the product is healthier for you. One reason is that drug manufacturers only need to list the total weight of microorganisms in the probiotic. This mass includes both live and dead microbes, and these organisms must be alive to exert their health benefits. There is no correlation between healthiness and the number of microorganisms present in the supplement.

The FDA does not regulate probiotic supplements

Consider whether the probiotic supplement would work in the first place. The FDA does not review the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements although some probiotic products may be regulated if they are considered a drug or food ingredient. This means that probiotic companies can make claims on their label about how the product affects your body without any health data to back it up.

Research on probiotics is still ongoing. There are still some questions such as how much to take, whether it affects other chronic conditions, or whether certain groups of people benefit more from probiotic supplementation. But with gut health in the spotlight, it’s only a matter of time before we get some answers.

We asked health experts for our own To flow Advisory Council to give their recommendations on probiotics for women who use them themselves.

Image: Nature Way.

Former What not to wear co-host Stacy London, who created the State of menopause beauty brand, recommends and uses Natures Way Fortify 50+ Extra Strength. This daily probiotic comes with 10 live strains that are intended to support digestive, immune and colon health.

Natures Way Fortify Age 50+ Probiotic $21.84

Image: seed.

A trusted To flow advisor recommends Seeds DS-01 Daily Synbiotic. The 2-in-1 probiotic and prebiotic combination is formulated with 24 strains to optimize the health of the gut and other systems.

Seed DS-01 Daily synbiotic $49.99

Image: Jarrow.

One of our trusted ones To flow the advisers recommended Fem Dophilus. The product contains two strains GR-1 and PC-14 which work to balance the vaginal microbiome. According to the manufacturer, one capsule per day will help promote vaginal and urinary tract health.

Jarrow Fem Dophilus formula $16.47

Image: Lifeway.

Piraye Beim, founder and CEO of Celmatix, prefers to get her probiotics from natural sources like organic sauerkraut and kefir. Her first choice is Lifeway Organic Kefir.

Lifeway Organic Kefir $6.29

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