Can taking probiotics really help lower cholesterol and help with weight loss?
Several key studies do indeed confirm that these benefits are real and may be obtainable with daily probiotic use.
In addition to these general benefits probiotics also offer key improvements specifically to men...
The most interesting of which is the potential to retain youthful testosterone levels with daily use.
In order to get these benefits, you must be using the right strains and species of probiotics which will be discussed in depth here.
Learn more about how to safely and effectively use probiotics for men in this post:
The Connection Between your Gut and your Health
Probiotics have been clinically proven to have beneficial effects specifically in men.
These benefits range from a reduction in weight and extend even into a beneficial effect on cholesterol and cardiovascular biomarkers (1).
Taking advantage of these benefits is as easy as simply taking a high-quality probiotic daily.
These benefits occur in addition to the standard improvement in your intestinal health (2), but it turns out that many of these benefits could be mediated through the interaction between the bacteria in your intestinal tract and biomarkers in your blood.
The amount, type and environment in your intestinal tract could be predisposing you to negative outcomes such as low testosterone, metabolic syndrome and weight gain.
Collectively this system is known as the microbiome (3).
Each of us has a slightly different amount of bacterial species and strains, and these strains can be altered by our environment.
That means what you eat, how much stress you are under, where you live, etc. all may be playing a role in your current health status.
Unfortunately, some of these factors are out of our control, things like:
- History of antibiotic use for infections (4) (antibiotics have been shown to disrupt your microbiome)
- Certain medications (5) (including acid blockers such as proton pump inhibitors, these medications alter intestinal function and increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies and bacterial overgrowth)
- Environmental factors (6) (such as where you live)
- The people who live with you (7) (studies indicate that your microbiome will become more like the people you live with on a day to day basis)
- Your genetics (8)
Fortunately, many factors are within your control:
- Your diet (9) (real whole food based diets tend to promote healthy bacterial growth and suppress pathogenic bacterial growth)
- Stress, both physiologic and physical (10) (somewhat under your control - over exercising is a common cause of excess physical stress while pressure from the demand of work would be considered physiologic or emotional)
- The addition of certain supplements (11) (prebiotics, L-glutamine, DGL, Berberine)
- Daily use of probiotics and/or fermented foods (12) (High-quality species such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria)
Even though taking probiotics is just one of the many therapies that you can do to improve your microbiome, it still has special value because it might be the easiest way to impact your overall health.
Taking probiotics daily has been proven in clinical studies to provide a number of positive health benefits.
Let's discuss those benefits in detail:
5 Proven Benefits of Probiotics in Men
#1. Weight Loss & Weight Management
With the number of diets and exercise routines that exist it's hard to believe that the obesity problem is simply a numbers game that boils down to calories in vs calories out.
In fact, we know that the obesity equation is much more complex than that.
Well for starters, how is it possible that probiotics can help with weight loss if they don't alter the amount of energy that you consume (calories)?
Studies have shed light on this very interesting mechanism which has serious significance in men:
Probiotics provide their benefit by changing and altering inflammation and insulin resistance.
It turns out that these two factors may be the underlying cause of metabolic syndrome and obesity in a number of men.
Probiotics help to reduce these two factors by modulating systemic and local inflammation.
This effect is mediated through an improvement in intestinal permeability and therefore a reduction in absorption of inflammation cytokines.
In addition to these effects probiotics have been shown to improve satiety (reduce and normalize appetite), reduce the amount of energy absorbed from certain unhealthy foods and to increase the absorption of certain nutrients and minerals.
These major effects can be summed up through the following 4 pathways:
- Modulating of energy metabolism -> reduction of bad caloric absorption
- Improvement in mucosal barrier -> reduction in absorption of pro-inflammatory cytokines
- Immuno-modulation -> Reduction in systemic and local inflammation
- Direct interaction with gut microbiota and bacteria -> Improvement in hormonal regulation (Reduction in glucose intolerance/insulin resistance)
With all of these benefits does it mean that probiotics are some miracle weight loss pill?
Not by a long shot.
The moral of the story is that probiotics can (and should seriously be considered) as a complimentary weight loss therapy that can be combined with dietary changes, testosterone replacement therapy, and strength training.
The good news is that even though up to 70% of men are considered to be overweight or obese, it's actually easier for men to lose weight than it is for women.
Part of this has to do with the powerful sex hormone known as testosterone.
In addition to providing benefit to weight, probiotics may also help testosterone levels...
#2. May Help Maintain Youthful Testosterone Levels
While this benefit hasn't been confirmed with human studies, the potential mechanism for how this might work is laid out with known probiotic function.
We'll get to that in a minute, but first, let's talk about the importance of testosterone in men:
Testosterone is probably the single most important hormone in men because testosterone is responsible for maintaining very important function such as metabolism, mood, sex drive, and even cardiovascular health.
The sharp rise in cardiovascular disease seen in men tends to occur around the same time that age-related decline of testosterone hits a low.
With this in mind, men should seriously be interested in finding therapies that can either prevent this natural decline in testosterone or at least slow it down.
And that's where probiotics come in.
Studies have shown that taking lactic acid bacteria isolated from human milk may help increase testicular size and help maintain testosterone over time.
The probiotic used in this study was Lactobacilli Reuteri (14).
The benefit of increased testosterone levels was linked to a reduction in inflammation and pro-inflammatory cytokines.
So how does this relate to humans?
Well, one of the primary causes of excessive and rapid decline of testosterone in men is insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is known to be potentiated by inflammation.
The reduction in inflammation may have important benefits on inflammation, insulin resistance and weight which may be how it helps retain testosterone long term.
#3. Improve Skin & Hair Quality
My experience treating men suggests that they are concerned over cosmetic features such as hair loss or changes to their skin.
With that in mind, it's worth noting that probiotics may have an improvement on several key elements related to your outward appearance.
Daily probiotic use has been shown in studies to provide patients with a "glow of health".
An improvement in skin and hair texture and quality result in noticeable changes that can be seen.
Even if you aren't interested in improving your skin or hair, you might be interested in WHY these benefits occur:
The improvement has been shown to be secondary to a reduction in inflammation as well as an improvement in immune function in the body (15).
Probiotics may help reduce circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukins and T helper-17.
In addition, probiotics may also improve hypothalamic hormone function (sex hormones, metabolism control, etc.).
All of these factors result in the outward change and the "glow" that is seen with probiotic use.
#4. Improves Cardiovascular Health & Reduces Cholesterol
Cardiovascular mortality is one of the leading killers of men in the United States.
Because of this, there is a huge push for patients to take cholesterol-lowering medications in an attempt to reduce the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attacks).
While medications may have their place, it's also worth considering that certain supplements like Probiotics have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels.
4 Probiotics strains that have been shown to help improve heart health include (16):
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Enterococcus faecium
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium lactis
These probiotics have all been proven to reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL lipoproteins in the blood.
In addition, studies also indicate that probiotics help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammatory mediators, reduce blood glucose levels and reduce body mass index (17) (help with weight loss).
All of these disease states comprise an even larger syndrome known as metabolic syndrome.
Probiotics seem to treat the underlying cause of metabolic syndrome (18) directly by improving hormonal control in the body.
#5. Improves Gastrointestinal Health
We can't talk about probiotics without mentioning their benefits on intestinal health.
Probiotics were originally created and encapsulated to improve gastrointestinal health.
Once the use of probiotics became widespread the benefits that exist outside of the intestinal tract began to come into focus, but we can't forget the intestinal benefits either.
So what type of intestinal benefits do probiotics provide?
For starters, probiotics have been shown to have benefit in the following diseases and conditions:
- Intestinal dysbiosis
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- Small intestinal fungal overgrowth
- Abdominal pain
- Cramping/bloating or excessive gas
- Acid reflux or GERD
All of these conditions arise from
Probiotics work by increasing the number of healthy bacteria in the gut while simultaneously reducing the negative or pathogenic bacteria.
In addition, probiotics also provide a direct and immediate effect by neutralizing certain molecular byproducts of bacteria.
On a special note, it's also worth taking some time to elaborate on how the use of probiotics can reduce acid reflux and why that is so important.
Paradoxically, acid reflux may be the result of low stomach acid and the corresponding changes that occur in the small intestines from this change in environment.
The treatment for acid reflux is to currently use acid blockers like H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors.
The problem is that long term use of these medications has clearly been shown to increase your risk of developing nutrient deficiencies, intestinal problems, and even gastric cancers (19).
This may provide significant long term benefit to certain patients.
The Best Mens Probiotic
While there really isn't a "best" probiotic for men, you can and should follow these tips to help you find the best probiotic for your body.
Just realize that each person will be slightly different and may require a different dose or type of probiotic.
There are no less than 300 different types of bacteria in your gut and the exact quantity of each species will vary from individual to individual.
With this in mind, I've put together some tips to help you find the right probiotic for you so you can take advantage of the benefits listed above:
- Make sure to find a probiotic with multiple species and strains of bacteria, you will want at least 10+ strains/species with each serving.
- Find probiotics that contain at least 50-100 billion CFU per serving (CFU stands for colony forming units and gives you an idea of how potent the probiotic is).
- For weight loss, you will want to use a probiotic that has 300 billion + CFU per day.
- Some bacterial species require refrigeration, look at the back of the bottle to see if the bacterial species are "heat stable" meaning they can survive at room temperature.
- Consider using probiotics in conjunction with other supplements and hormones such as Testosterone for added effect.
- Use probiotics daily and for at least 2-3 months or until you notice an improvement in your symptoms. You can reduce your dose at 2-3 months but watch for recurrence of symptoms.
You can also find my recommended probiotic for men below.
The Best Probiotic for Men:
How to Use
- Use 1 capsule daily of 100 billion CFU/serving (or more) probiotics with several species
- Stick to probiotics that come temperature/climate/light controlled with well-studied strains of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli species
My Recommended Brand and Product
Back to you
Taking probiotics daily may provide a significant boost to your overall health.
As a man, you may enjoy benefits such as weight loss, an improvement in skin/hair quality, a reduction in cholesterol, an improvement in sex hormones and increased intestinal health.
To get these benefits you will want to find a high-quality probiotic and plan to take it daily for at least 2-3 months for optimal results.
Now I want to hear from you:
Have you taken probiotics previously? Did they work to help with weight loss or testosterone?
Leave your comments below.
References (Click to Expand)