No matter what health trend you’ve been following in 2023, the buzz is clear: gut health is a big deal. Nevertheless, with so many supplement choices and health gadgets available, the wellness world doesn't make it easy for you to know what you need to maintain a healthy gut.
Fun fact: your gut health is directly linked to your vaginal health—suddenly, understanding what your second brain needs is even more crucial.
In this article, we dig deeper to find out how the tiny superheroes we know as prebiotics and probiotics can do amazing things for the gut and vagina, and help you maintain a happy, healthy down-there & everywhere.
How Prebiotics and Probiotics Support Gut & Vaginal Health
Prebiotics and probiotics are often deemed nature’s dynamic duo for gut health. While they sound similar, they’re actually quite different.
Think of prebiotics as “food” for your good gut bacteria. They're the unsung heroes that provide nourishment and support for our beneficial bacteria to thrive. By consuming prebiotics, you're essentially providing the building blocks for a flourishing gut microbiome. Prebiotics help stimulate the growth and activity of friendly bacteria, promoting a diverse and balanced gut ecosystem.
Probiotics, on the other hand, are the actual live, beneficial bacteria in your gut & vagina (as well as your mouth, urinary tract, skin & even lungs). They are the active ingredients found in certain foods or supplements that contain living microorganisms (microbes), ready to support the health of our digestive system and promote balance in the gut.
TL;DR—Probiotics deliver live microorganisms, and prebiotics act as the sustenance that helps probiotics survive and thrive in your gut. Together, they create an optimal environment for the growth and activity of the good guys, promoting a balanced and resilient gut microbiome. Now, let’s explore how probiotics affect your vagina.
The Link Between Your Gut and Your Vagina
Just as the brain is connected to the gut through the gut-brain axis, the gut and vagina are interconnected through what scientists call the gut-vagina axis. This axis refers to the communication and influence between the microbiota (the diverse community of microorganisms) in the gut and the vagina. Essentially, the delicate balance of beneficial bacteria in both areas is crucial for optimal health, as imbalances can lead to a range of issues.
Thankfully, science has gotten us far. Numerous studies have investigated the efficacy of certain probiotic strains in supporting healthy vaginal microbiota, and research is still ongoing and evolving. Here’s what we’ve learned:
Probiotic Strains that Support Gut and Vaginal Health
Certain probiotic strains have shown promising benefits for maintaining a healthy gut and vaginal microbiome. Here are a few key strains to consider:
Lactobacillus acidophilus: This probiotic strain is commonly found in the vagina and helps maintain a healthy vaginal pH. It can also support gut health by enhancing the breakdown and absorption of nutrients.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus: Known for its immune-boosting properties, L. rhamnosus can help support the gut barrier function and promote a balanced vaginal microbiota. It may be particularly beneficial for women experiencing vaginal infections.
Bifidobacterium longum: This probiotic strain is renowned for its ability to support a healthy gut environment. It helps in maintaining regular bowel movements, reducing bloating, and improving digestion. Additionally, it has been shown to positively influence vaginal health by promoting a diverse and balanced vaginal microbiota.
Lactobacillus crispatus: This strain is one of the dominant species in a healthy vaginal ecosystem. It produces lactic acid, which helps maintain an acidic environment, preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
Lactobacillus fermentum: known for its versatile health benefits. It has been shown to support gastrointestinal health, enhance immune function, and contribute to a balanced vaginal microbiota.
Symptoms of An Unhealthy Gut
Knowing what “bad” gut health looks and feels like can help you take the first steps in fixing it. Here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Digestive problems
- Constant mood swings
- Excessive brain fog or fatigue
- New or developing food sensitivities
- Skin problems like acne or rosacea
- Overgrowth of harmful bacteria that may show up as yeast infections or UTIs
- Weight fluctuations outside of your menstrual cycle
How to Get Your Probiotic Fix
Fortunately, incorporating probiotics into your life doesn't have to be complicated or stressful—there are a number of ways to do so.
Enjoy Probiotic-Rich Foods
Several tasty foods naturally contain probiotics. Think yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented goodies. Adding these to your diet can boost your gut & vaginal health.
Take Probiotic Supplements
If you're not a fan of fermented foods, supplements can help fill the nutrient gaps—and they’re so easy to incorporate into your routine. Probiotics come in different forms, like capsules, tablets, powders, and even gummies. Make sure to choose a reputable brand that uses the right strains; O Positiv uses only scientifically-proven strains that help reduce inflammation and boost vaginal health & balance.
Use Feminine Probiotic Products
While not as strong or sustainable as a consumable pre & probiotic, some companies have developed specific probiotic products designed specifically for women's intimate health. These include topical sprays, creams, and washes that contain probiotics. Aside from that, they can be a convenient option for people who want a low-effort over-the-counter option.
Potential Side Effects of Taking Prebiotics & Probiotics
While research is still ongoing, side effects of taking pre- and probiotics tend to be rare. Nonetheless, you should always check with your dietician before changing up your food regimen or your healthcare provider if you want to introduce a new supplement.
With probiotics on your side, you can naturally support your gut & vaginal health to help prevent unwanted surprises. Whether it's promoting a balanced pH, preventing infections, or supporting your overall well-being, a high-quality probiotic supplement can help. Take advantage of these friendly little warriors, and let them do their work.
Remember, if you have any concerns or persistent issues, it's always best to consult your healthcare provider.