You may recognize the term Lactobacillus as a type of healthy bacteria often found in probiotics or certain foods. But why does it matter and why are there so many different strains of it? Let’s dive in to the science behind why it’s so beneficial, particularly in a women’s probiotic.
What Is Lactobacillus?
Lactobacillus is a large family of “good” bacteria species commonly found in the gut, mouth and vagina. This type of bacteria converts sugars into lactic acid, which can help to prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing in the body and maintain a proper balance of flora.
The term Lactobacillus is what scientists call a genus. This is classified as a group of species that are closely related and hold similar characteristics. To put it in simpler terms, it’s an assigned surname for different microorganisms that are ancestrally related. Each strain has their own identifying name, but they all fall under the same family.
Why Is Lactobacillus Beneficial For Women's Health?
Lactobacillus can contribute to our overall health by improving the function of our immune system, protecting against harmful bacteria and improving digestion. There are two areas that they are targeted to most: the gut and the vagina.
In regards to gut health, Lactobacillus aids the body in breaking down food, absorbing nutrients and can relieve symptoms of certain medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease or lactose intolerance. Not only is Lactobacillus found in probiotic supplements, but it’s also commonly found in fermented foods, like yogurt, sourdough bread or sauerkraut.
Concerning vaginal health, Lactobacillus can hinder the growth of “bad” bacteria which helps to prevent recurring infections such as bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infections or yeast overgrowth. It is not yet considered a “cure” by any means, so it’s important to always consult with your doctor for appropriate treatment when you’re having symptoms of an infection. However, scientific studies have shown that probiotics, specifically strains of Lactobacillus, can help an existing infection and show promise for potential new treatments in the future.
What Do Different Strains Of Lactobacillus Do For Women?
There are over 250 different species of Lactobacillus bacteria identified by scientists. While there are so many strains that exist, they all play their own roles in helping to improve areas of our health.
Certain strains of Lactobacillus are specifically beneficial for vaginal health, so it’s common that several of them are included in a woman’s probiotic at a time. For example, VeeBiotics contain a total of 11 strains of Lactobacillus that can help to balance the vaginal microbiome. To name a few of these, we have Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Gasseri, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus and Lactobacillus Reuteri.
Lactobacillus AcidophilusLactobacillus Acidophilus can assist in treating or preventing vaginal inflammation (common during episodes bacterial vaginosis) and yeast infections.
Lactobacillus GasseriLactobacillus Gasseri has the ability to inhibit growth of harmful bacteria, particularly bacteria associated with bacterial vaginosis. It may also help lessen menstrual pain in women with endometriosis.
Lactobacillus RhamnosusLactobacillus Rhamnosus is useful in hindering bacteria growth, especially after antibiotic therapy. It can also reduce symptoms and the recurrence rate of bacterial vaginosis.
Lactobacillus ReuteriLactobacillus Reuteri is beneficial because it colonizes in the vagina, pushing out “bad” bacteria, and strengthens the vagina’s natural defense against candida.
While these are just a few strains of bacteria that are incorporated in VeeBiotics (and may be in other probiotics on the market), there are plenty of other strains included that provide additional benefits in their own ways and work in conjunction with one another. All strains of bacteria used in a probiotic can always be found on the label of the bottle if you want to know more about these helpful little microbes.
Choosing The Right Women's Probiotic
Be thorough when searching for the right probiotic for yourself. Different probiotics contain various strains of bacteria that target different things. It’s important to fully do your research and decide on a probiotic that contains strains of bacteria that will be beneficial to you and the issues you’re wanting to focus on.
Pay close attention to the quantity of bacteria in the probiotic. It’s typically measured in colony forming units (CFU’s) and normally in the billions. It often ranges from 1 to 10 billion, however some contain upwards of 50 billion or more. The amount needed differs for every individual depending on their health and needs, so it’s best to consult with your doctor to decide what’s best for you.
Quality is another important deciding factor when searching for a women’s probiotic. It should contain live, active bacterial cultures to be considered a true probiotic. This is typically indicated on the packaging or label.
The Lactobacillus family is large and full of a great deal of bacteria strains that can benefit our overall health, especially women’s vaginal health. Although it’s not a cure-all, it can certainly help provide some additional support to your body when taken consistently. Women’s probiotics are a great component to include in your wellness routine and can support you on your journey to being the healthiest version of yourself.