Published 7th September 2022

What probiotics are best for men’s health?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that can provide health benefits.

Your gut microbiome consists of trillions of bacteria, yeasts, and viruses that play a role in many aspects of health, including digestion and immunity.

You can find probiotics in some unpasteurized, live fermented foods and drinks — such as kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, and some cheeses. You can also buy them over the counter as supplements. 

Probiotics and men’s health

Much of the evidence for the health benefits of specific probiotics is limited. But this is a growing area of research, with many ongoing studies. 

ZOE scientists have identified 15 “good” bugs in your gut that are linked with better health.

Unfortunately, currently available probiotic supplements don’t contain these “good” bugs. But you can support the population of “good” bugs you have by changing your diet.  

The ZOE at-home test gives you a breakdown of the bugs that make up your unique gut microbiome. Then, based on your results, we can give you personalized nutrition advice about how to eat the best foods for your body.

There's no shortage of health claims about probiotics. But how many are backed by science? 

Below, we’ll take a closer look at what the evidence says.

Digestion issues

Bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and other digestion issues can stem from many factors. One possible cause is an imbalance in your gut microbiome. 

The gut microbiome is a community of trillions of microbes that live in your gut. They play an essential role in your digestive and overall health.

Certain strains of the probiotic Lactobacillus bacteria may reduce bloating. These are in some yogurts and fermented vegetables.

Similarly, there is evidence that strains of Bifidobacterium could promote regular bowel movements.

In a recent review of more than 70 studies, researchers looked at the effects of probiotics on symptoms of digestion issues like irritable bowel syndrome. They found that Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains might relieve painful bloating and abdominal pain.

However, the studies used many different strains, combinations of strains, and dosages. So, it’s hard to pinpoint which strains or combinations lead to these benefits.

Improving your overall gut health, rather than focusing on a specific probiotic, can benefit your digestive health

Sexual health

Research into the role of probiotics in male sexual health is relatively new, but some studies have generated interesting results. 

Probiotics may help with fertility in men. In a recent study, researchers gave 52 men with fertility issues a probiotic mixture containing Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, and Streptococcus thermophilus

After 10 weeks, the results showed improved sperm health across multiple measures, including total sperm count and sperm mobility.

Probiotics may also help improve men’s sexual health indirectly via the gut microbiome.

Human and animal studies suggest a possible link between a low diversity of gut bugs — and low levels of specific prbiotics, like Bifidobacteria — and erectile dysfunction. 

While the results are intriguing, more research is needed. 

Testosterone

Recent studies have explored the link between probiotics and testosterone levels in men. 

In one animal study, researchers added Lactobacillus reuteri to the drinking water of aging male mice. After 10 months, the mice’s testosterone levels were similar to those of younger mice. 

Human studies are limited, but in one study, researchers observed a link between a combined probiotic and prebiotic therapy and improved testosterone levels in men who had infertility. 

This is only one very small study, though. And the researchers used a mixture of probiotic and prebiotic strains. Prebiotics are a kind of fiber that nourishes your “good” gut bacteria. 

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Prostate health?

There isn’t any conclusive evidence to suggest that certain probiotics can benefit prostate health. 

For instance, studies have found no significant link between probiotics and prostate cancer. 

Bone health

Male-specific research into probiotics and bone health is limited. However, animal studies suggest that probiotics might help prevent bone loss and improve bone density in male mice and male rats. 

And studies involving women also suggest that certain probiotics could help promote bone health in humans. 

Taken together, this suggests that probiotics may support bone health in men.

Are probiotic supplements actually effective?

There are claims that probiotics may be a safe and effective way to improve men’s health. But these reported benefits vary, based on the specific strain, the dosage, and the person. 

Although a daily supplement may be convenient, those currently available aren’t a magic solution.

Dietary supplements aren’t subject to the same United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing and regulations as drugs and medicines. 

Even if manufacturers make safe products responsibly, this doesn’t mean that the bacteria in the supplement will benefit your health. 

Beyond this, some evidence suggests that the probiotics in foods may be more beneficial for your overall health than those in a pill.

How to get probiotics from your diet

At ZOE, we believe that probiotics from food are more beneficial for your gut microbiome and overall health than those available as supplements. ZOE co-founder Prof. Tim Spector shares some tips for improving your gut health:

  • Fermented foods: Live yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, and some cheeses are often good sources of probiotics. Eat small amounts of these daily, rather than large portions every once in a while.

  • A variety of plants: Try to eat at least 30 different plants each week. Nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes are rich in fiber and other nutrients that support a healthy gut. Here are some strategies for getting more plants in your diet

  • Prebiotics: Prebiotics are a type of fiber that feeds the “good” bacteria in your gut. It’s best to include a variety of different-colored plants, as each color provides slightly distinct benefits.

What are the best probiotics for you?

Some strains of probiotics might be beneficial, but the effect is not the same for everyone. One type of probiotic may work for some but not others.

Author and gut health expert Dr. Will Bulsiewicz — ZOE’s U.S. medical director, a board-certified gastroenterologist, and a New York Times best-selling author — describes it like this:

“Probiotics are a bit difficult to predict because they’re a bit like a foreign exchange student arriving in a high school. The cliques are already established, and then this new person walks in, and it’s possible that they change the dynamics, but it’s also possible that nothing changes at all.”

Everyone’s gut microbiome is unique, and while some general tips can help, there's no universal, one-size-fits-all solution to gut health.

Summary

Probiotics are living microorganisms that can benefit your overall health.

Research is ongoing, but there is evidence to suggest that some probiotics may be able to help improve men’s health, including digestion, sexual health, and testosterone levels.

At ZOE, we believe that the best way to get these probiotics is through food. Since everyone has a unique gut microbiome, there's no one-size-fits-all recommendation for probiotics.

With the ZOE at-home test, you can learn what bugs are living in your very own gut. We can also provide you with personalized nutrition advice to encourage the “good” bugs to flourish.

To get started, take our free quiz.

Sources

Can probiotics help against diarrhea? Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. (2019). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK373095/

Correlation between gut microbiota diversity and psychogenic erectile dysfunction. Translational Andrology and Urology. (2021). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8749073/

Dietary supplements. (2021). https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/dietary-supplements

Exploring the role of gut microbiome in male reproduction. Andrology. (2021). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/andr.13143

Probiotic effects on sperm parametes, oxidative stress index, inflammatory factors, and sex hormones in infertile men. Human Fertility. (2020). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14647273.2020.1824080?journalCode=ihuf20

Probiotic microbes sustain youthful serum testosterone levels and testicular size in aging mice. PLoS One. (2014). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3879365/

Probiotic treatment using a mix of three Lactobacillus strains for lumbar spine bone loss in postmenopausal women: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre trial. The Lancet Rheumatology. (2019). https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanrhe/article/PIIS2665-9913(19)30068-2/fulltext

Probiotics for the prevention and treatment of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. JAMA. (2012). https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1151505

Systematic review: probiotics in the management of lower gastrointestinal symptoms — an updated evidence-based international consensus. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. (2018). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5900870/

The association of a probiotic with a prebiotic (Flortec, Bracco) to improve the quality/quantity of spermatozoa in infertile patients with idiopathic oligoasthenoteratospermia: a pilot study. Andrology. (2017). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/andr.12336

The comparison of food and supplement as probiotic delivery vehicles. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. (2016). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25117939/

The effect of probiotics on functional constipation in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (2014). https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/100/4/1075/4576460?login=false

The potential of probiotics as a therapy for osteoporosis. Microbiology Spectrum. (2017). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5710820/

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