What if I told you that your healthy eating and $100+ a month supplement habit was all going to waste? If you don’t pay attention to this one aspect of your health you’re probably not seeing the full range of benefits from all of your hard work! You see, if our digestive system isn’t functioning as it should, or we don’t have a healthy microbiome, we aren’t able to absorb the nutrients we ingest and this could have big impacts on our health. It’s a confusing and often understood subject but I’ve got you – here’s what I’ve learned about the benefits of probiotics for fertility.
(This post is sponsored in part by Seed.com)
Understanding the microbiome
Our bodies are the home to a community of 38 TRILLION microorganisms (mostly bacteria) that work to aid in digestion and metabolism as well as produce key vitamins that our bodies need. This is what we call our microbiome. These tiny little organisms are mostly bacteria but also include fungi, viruses, and protozoa and they are mostly found in the gut, which is why the terms “gut health” and “leaky gut” have become so popular in recent years.
There are also colonies (biomes) of these microorganisms in our mouth, skin, and in the vagina.
Unfortunately, many diet and lifestyle choices we make tend to compromise or destroy the beneficial bacteria:
- overdoing sugar consumption
- processed foods
- body inflammation
The first few years of our life kind of “set the stage” for what our microbiome consists of:
- our mother’s health during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding,
- whether we were formula-fed,
- had antibiotics in the first few years,
- foods we were exposed to
- nature and environment we lived in
- pets we were exposed to
All of the above affect the balance and amount of beneficial bacteria in our system. It’s been found that our community of microorganisms stabilize into a steady-state right around the age of three. So many of us have even had a compromised microbiome since we were very young!
Why the microbiome matters
Our bodies are constantly trying to find homeostasis, or a good balance, in order to keep us healthy and feeling great. When we begin to introduce foods and lifestyle choices that disrupt this homeostasis, this is when the beneficial bacteria can be damaged and/or cause the growth of undesirable bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The results could be as simple as reduced absorption of nutrients to chronic digestive issues (bloating, excess gas, constipation, diarrhea) and even contribute to yeast infections.
What the heck IS a probiotic?
Technically, a probiotic is a “live microorganism that, when administered in adequate amounts, has health benefits to the host” (via a 2001 UN/WHO expert panel). For it to be effective it needs to survive the digestion process (stomach acids) and make it all the way to the colon (in a large enough quantity) where it does the majority of the work!
Are fermented foods good enough?
Honestly, I don’t know! When we’re talking about fermented foods, it all depends on which probiotics it contains (which will depend on so many variables) as well as if the beneficial bacteria actually survive the journey.
I think fermented foods (kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, etc) are amazing foods. The beneficial microorganisms it contains have worked hard at changing and colonizing whatever food they’re in, which creates a food that has been broken down for easy digestion and absorbability. Whether or not these foods change or affect our personal microbiome, I’m unsure as I’ve seen conflicting information. I do know so many people that have felt better and reduced symptoms because of them (along with a real foods diet) so I definitely keep them in my meals!
Benefits of probiotics for fertility
I used to take just about any supplement out there that just might help my fertility, at one time I even bought one of those pill organizers so I could keep them all straight. I had so many vitamins and herbal supplements I could just about open my own pharmacy – now I know better. I take only what’s beneficial for overall health and work with my practitioner on a supplement regimen only when needed.
Probiotics are on the shortlist of supplements I take for overall health (the other is a daily vitamin that contains folate) because of their ability to affect so many of the body systems. Here are a few benefits we might see when using probiotics for fertility and hormone balance:
May “train” our bodies to identify viruses and pathogens making sure our immune system takes care of them which helps give the “all systems go” green light to the reproductive system.
Balances the pH of the vagina to guard against unwanted yeasts which is very important in keeping sperm healthy as it moves to the egg/fallopian tube. One animal study, in particular, has shown that fertility increased in the presence of a specific probiotic.
Aids in digestion so that we can better absorb nutrients needed for proper egg/sperm health as well as hormone production.
Supports cellular health needed for our own health and well being and in the health of the egg/sperm.
Can probiotic supplements really help boost fertility?
Taking a probiotic every day will NOT immediately make you fertile, but I’ve made the decision to include them as an important part of my current supplement regimen. I take them as a way to support my overall health because when I’m feeling good I’m more apt to continue to make healthy diet and lifestyle choices…which in turn affects my fertility and hormones.
What scientists DO know about these transient (meaning they don’t necessarily stick around, they just move through) microbes travel through the colon, interact with immune cells, gut cells, dietary nutrients, and existing bacteria to, directly and indirectly, deliver benefits.
Some enhance the gene expressions involved in tight junction signaling, which help protect against intestinal permeability—this means a tight gut barrier. Others trigger neurotransmitters that stimulate muscle contractions for increased motility—think, better, more regular poops. Yet other bacteria produce byproducts like short-chain fatty acids, which have been extensively shown to be beneficial for metabolic and gut immune health.https://seed.com/probiotics-101/
When we digest our food better, and heal any gut permeability we may have, our bodies are better able to absorb nutrients needed for proper hormone production, egg development, and sperm health.
However, not all probiotics are created equal, which is frustrating!
So many of the bottles of probiotics you find in stores or order online simply aren’t worth taking. Over the last decade or so I’ve tried at least 10 different brands and researched even more. Most companies simply use marketing buzz words and often contain fillers.
Enter Seed Synbiotics
I’ve been impressed with Seed for a while now as I continue to learn more about the company and its product. Personally, I’ve not found a company so devoted to educating not only the public but its affiliates as well.
- They fully educate their customers about probiotics and the microbiome. The information is easy to find on their website and their passion for providing a great product is easy to see.
- They use the correct terms instead of simply using marketing phrases
- Their reference library contains medical sources and studies for everything they teach about their prebiotic/probiotic product!
- It contains both a PREbiotic (compounds that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms)
- The daily synbiotic for females is formulated with strains you can’t find in yogurt or fermented foods and beverages. It also contains strains that synthesize folate and promote increased production in the body. <—-this is HUGE for me!
- There is no need for refrigeration
- The first order is packaged in a glass jar and refills are shipped in a compostable packet.
- Contains no dairy, gluten, corn, soy, GMOs, binders, fillers, or preservatives.
NOTE – Synbiotic simply means that it contains both the prebiotic and probiotic so that they work synergistically together! The probiotic formulation is contained within an inner capsule to help safeguard its viability (keep the microorganisms alive) while the outer part of the capsule contains the prebiotic.)
Seed is mail-ordered and subscription-based – they’ll keep you stocked so you don’t have to worry about running out! I’m currently trialing their product so if you have specific questions, feel free to contact me. Otherwise, I’ll update here and send out an update to email subscribers next month.