Find out which are actually worth your investment.
So, you're keen to invest in some probiotics for women. A bit like collagen supplements or the latest celebrity workouts (shoutout to Beyonce's HIIT routine), they're a bit of a buzz-term in the health and wellness world RN, but it can be hard to know which brands are actually worth your investment.
Recent studies published in the BMJ of Nutrition, Prevention & Health and Neurosci Biobehav Rev suggest that probiotics could help with digestive issues, like IBS, but mental conditions, like depression and anxiety, too. While further research is needed, the gut-brain axis is being explored more and more and, generally speaking, is now widely accepted as being far more important than originally thought.
Here, Holly Zoccolan, nutritional health coach and founder of The Heath Zoc, shares her honest take on which eight probiotics for women she'd actually recommend (and spends money on herself).
To find out what probiotics are, how they work, and the science behind how probiotics work to improve your gut health, plus which brands are genuinely worth opting for, keep scrolling.
Probiotics for women: your guide
What is a probiotic?
According to the health coach, probiotics are live strains of bacteria which support the absorption of nutrients in the body and help to fight off infections.
In supplement form, they contain the probiotics which help to keep our GI tract healthy and improve our health - in other words, helping to keep the body in balance, shares Zoccolan.
The NHS website agrees, defining probiotics as 'live bacteria and yeasts promoted as having various health benefits. They're usually added to yoghurts or taken as food supplements, and are often described as "good" or "friendly" bacteria'.
How do probiotics work?
Simply enough, probiotic supplements contain the good strains of bacteria.
This increases your absorption of nutrients and, in turn, enhances your immune system, explains Zoccolan.
Probiotics for women benefits
Whether you're on the hunt for probiotics to help with gut health, vaginal health or fat loss, there's a supplement for all needs.
Essentially, probiotics are a bit of an all rounder, and promise to help with the following:
- Can improve your digestive health
- Can help with conditions like IBS and stop unwanted side effects, like diarrhoea
- Can keep your heart healthy
- Can help with eczema and allergies
- Can improve mental health
- Can improve your immune health.
What's the difference between a probiotic and a prebiotic?
Good question, and one that causes quite common confusion. In short, probiotics are the living strains of 'good' bacteria that live in your digestive system or gut. By taking probiotic supplements, you can up your levels of healthy gut bacteria and, in turn, enjoy the benefits of improved digestion and more.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are what your probiotic gut bacteria feed on, and a type of plant fibre that makes sure your pre-existing gut flora stays healthy.
Should I start taking probiotic supplements?
It's totally up to you. FYI, you can totally get probiotics from your food, so if you eat a varied enough diet - and make sure to include probiotic foods, like the below - there may be no need to supplement.
The best probiotic foods, according to Zoccolan, are as follows:
- Sourdough bread
- Cottage cheese.
However, Zoccolan points out that people are increasingly not eating a varied enough diet, so supplementation may be necessary. "The majority of our diets contain more processed and less natural foods, so probiotics could be of benefit to most," she shares.
Note here: probiotics can also be particularly beneficial to those who have been on antibiotic medications for extended periods of time. "Taking probiotics after antibiotics helps to repopulate the good gut bacteria which was destroyed by the antibiotics and bring your body back in balance," the health coach explains.
Probiotics for women: 8 to *add to basket* now
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Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.
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