What Are Probiotics Good For?
If someone came to you one day and said, "Let's throw some bacteria into a pill
and you'll swallow it and then let's watch your brain, liver, heart,
erection and mood function
miraculously improve!" - you'd tell him he was crazy, right? Yet
researchers have found that replenishing certain intestinal bacteria,
or probiotics, does all of that and much, much more.
It kind of makes sense when you stop to think that "you are what you eat" and
what you eat has to pass through your small intestine and all the bacterial
inhabitants that live therein. Colon health may not be glamorous, but with
every passing month researchers find how it is one of the most important aspects
of your personal well-being and fitness.
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Let's look at five counterintuitvie - one might almost say "weird"
- ways that probiotics have been found to affect male health:
1. Heart Disease (and Erections). Research is preliminary and somewhat
speculative at this point, but it is very likely that probiotics can improve
cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction in many men. The reason?
One study explained that probiotics help the arteries in three key ways: a)
increasing and improving t-cell response which relaxes our normally "overzealous" immune
system, meaning less white blood cells will end up creating plaque along the
endothelium, b) secretion of proprionic acid which signals the liver to produce
less cholesterol and c) forcing the liver to use more cholesterol which, in
turn, lowers plasma total cholesterol numbers.  All of this will be good for
men struggling with erectile strength and ensuing studies will undoubtedly show
NOTE: Inflammation is incredibly important to both erectile strength
and heart health. Please see my link on
How to Lower Inflammation for more information.
2. Anxiety. An animal study found that administration of an antibiotic
"cocktail," which kills most intestinal flora, led to an increase in anxiety in
the mice. Upon examination, they found that the mice has an increase in
BDNF, which is known to increase anxiety.  This may explain part of the
reason why researchers have noticed that antibiotic use is often associated with
stress reactions, depression and anxiety.
3. Mood. Reseachers studied those that consumed a probiotic containing
milk drink in a double-blind placebo-controlled study of seniors.  The study
results clearly showed that mood improved in those taking the protbiotics.
Again, who would have guessed that probiotics are so good for the brain?
4. Liver. Researchers discovered yet another bizarre connection with gut
flora: TNF-alpha. You may recall that TNF-alpha is the bad boy
inflammatory cytokine that is a root cause of many
other chronic conditions that plague modern urban-dwelling men. Thus researchers
have found (in an animal study) that better control of TNF-alpha led to big
improvements in Non-Fatty Liver Disease.  Some probiotics
have beens shown to improve IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, and other
parameters of inflammation as well.
NOTE: This improvement in TNF-alpha is yet another reason
that probiotics may help many men with erectile dysfunction. Please see my link on
Juice and Inflammation for more information.
5. Immunity. Several studies have found that various probiotics help immune
function. Researchers have found that it likely helps with childhood dermatitis
, ulcerative colitis , H.Pylori/ulcers  and on and on. Researcher do
not totally understand yet how probiotics works its wonders on the immune
system, but it seems to be by positive affecting inflammation and the
permeability of the intestine.
So what are probiotics good for? It's not too much of an exagerration to
say "everything!" Anything that boosts immunity, brain function and
improves the body's inflammatory response is a huge factor in personal health.
Gastroenterology, Aug 2011, 141(2):599-609, "The Intestinal Microbiota Affect
Central Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor and Behavior in Mice"
2) European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007, 61:355–361, "Impact of consuming
a milk drink containing a probiotic on mood and cognition"
3) Hepatology, Feb 2003, 37(2):343–350, "Probiotics and antibodies to TNF inhibit
inflammatory activity and improve nonalcoholic fatty liver disease"
4) Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Feb 2003, 111(2):389-395, "Effect
of probiotic Lactobacillus strains in children with atopic dermatitis"
5) World J Gastroenterol, 2008 Apr 28; 14(16):2511–2516, "Anti-inflammatory
activity of probiotic Bifidobacterium: Enhancement of IL-10 production in
peripheral blood mononuclear cells from ulcerative colitis patients and
inhibition of IL-8 secretion in HT-29 cells"
6) Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Apr 2006, 23(8):1077–1086, April 2006,
"Systematic review: are probiotics useful in controlling gastric colonization by
7) Journal of Cardiovascular Disease and Research, 2010, 1(4):213-214, "Potential
of probiotics in controlling cardiovascular diseases"
8) Infection and Immunity, Sep 2004, 72(9):5308-5314, "Live Lactobacillus reuteri
Is Essential for the Inhibitory Effect on Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha-Induced