Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC is a clinician, Naturopathic Practitioner, clinical researcher, author, and adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport. His work has been published in peer-reviewed medical journals and he speaks at conferences around the globe.
Probiotics for Men’s Heart, Brain, Gut, and Sexual Health.
There’s no special kind of probiotic formula that is the best probiotic for men, so you don’t have to spend extra money to find a “men’s formula.”
Not much research exists that shows probiotics help with sexual health, but several studies do show a correlation between sexual problems and poor gut health.
Studies show that men with digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were three times more likely to have erectile dysfunction, and 51% of all people with IBS have sexual dysfunction.
Since probiotics improve gut health, including improving IBS, IBD, and SIBO, adding in a daily probiotic is a reasonable and non-harmful addition to a wellness plan to possibly improve sexual health.
Probiotic supplements may be helpful for improving your prostate, digestive, heart, and brain health.
All of those probiotics bottles on the shelves labeled “men’s formula” make us think that there’s a best probiotic for men, but that’s just marketing. We have no evidence to show that men need specific strains of probiotics or a different probiotic formula from women. But that doesn’t mean that probiotics aren’t beneficial for men’s health. Rather, preliminary evidence on probiotics holds promising news for men’s health.
Let’s take a look at what research shows us about how probiotics play an important role for digestive and general health — and how they may also be beneficial for additional men’s health concerns.
In this article we’ll explore the role of probiotics in supporting men’s sexual health, prostate health, heart health, digestive health, and brain health.
Probiotics for Men’s Health: An Overview
Probiotics can provide vast benefits for men’s health. For both men and women, probiotics help support a healthy gut, which is important in not only decreasing any gastrointestinal symptoms you may have, but also supporting heart and brain health.
Poor gut health is an underlying contributing factor to poor overall health, so if you get your gut in order, you can create a good foundation for health in all areas.
Here are a few highlights:
Leaky gut, where the lining of the gut becomes impaired and food particles and toxins are then allowed to leak into the bloodstream and can cause systemic inflammation, has been shown to be repaired by probiotics [1, 2].
Leaky gut and a poor gut microbiome are present in heart disease, and probiotics that help repair leaky gut may in turn lessen the risk of heart disease.
Poor gut health such as IBS and infections such as SIBO cause many digestive issues, including bloating and diarrhea. These conditions can be improved with probiotics, which then may help promote sexual health since 51% of all people with IBS have sexual dysfunction .
Probiotics have shown to help improve cognitive function in people with minimal cognitive impairment.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into each area of health and the research we have behind how and why probiotics can be helpful for men’s health.
Probiotics for Men’s Sexual Health
There’s very little direct research into the benefits of probiotics for men’s sexual health. However, several studies show a correlation between men’s sexual problems and poor gut health:
A very large study of 17,608 male patients found that men with IBS were 2.92 times more likely to have erectile dysfunction than non-IBS patients .
A research review found that IBS patients (both men and women) have more sexual health problems compared to control groups .
In a study of patients with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), most men had erectile dysfunction. Of 69 men with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, 39% had global sexual dysfunction and 94% had erectile dysfunction .
While much more research is needed, we can make some inferences here. We know that probiotics are helpful for many digestive issues, therefore it’s plausible that probiotics may also be beneficial for sexual problems.
In fact, both a meta-analysis of 20 randomized control trials  and a 2020 randomized control trial of over 300 patients  show that probiotics improved gastrointestinal symptoms of IBS such as constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Probiotics also improved quality of life and non-digestive symptoms such as fatigue and difficulty sleeping.
And while I don’t normally put much stock into animal studies, this one is intriguing:
Aging male mice that consumed probiotics had larger testicles and increased testosterone levels when compared with age-matched controls .
Because sexual health issues such as erectile dysfunction and sexual dysfunction are common in people with poor gut health, if you’re experiencing these symptoms, it may be worth a trial of probiotics to see if symptoms improve.
Probiotics for Digestive Health
No matter your gender, your overall health depends on your gut health. Let’s look at the vast amount of evidence showing the value of probiotic supplements for your digestive system and beyond.
Here’s a sampling of some of the best evidence to date:
Two meta-analyses of clinical trials (the highest-quality research data) have shown probiotics to be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), with no side effects [9, 10]. Another meta-analysis involving 20 clinical trials and a total of 1,404 patients showed that probiotics improved global IBS symptoms when compared to placebo [6, 11].
A meta-analysis summarizing 18 clinical trials concluded that probiotic supplements are an effective treatment for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), both in improving symptoms, such as bloating, and in improving lab values . One study found probiotics to be more effective than the antibiotic metronidazole (a standard treatment for SIBO) .
Probiotics can help with leaky gut. At least two clinical trials found that probiotics helped to promote repair of the digestive tract in humans [1, 2].
One review (a summary of multiple studies) found that probiotics worked as well as the anti-inflammatory drug mesalamine in maintaining remission for Crohn’s disease . Best results were with a combination of probiotics and mesalamine.
Other reviews have found probiotics to be effective for treating ulcerative colitis [14, 15, 16].
By improving the balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria in your gut, probiotics can calm an overzealous immune system and reduce inflammation. Improving your gut health can have profound effects on your overall health.
Probiotics for Prostate Health
In the United States, almost 2 million men visit the doctor for prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) every year . Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States . Research suggests that prostatitis may be a risk factor for prostate cancer .
Once again, there’s not a lot of data to go by yet, but what we do have is promising:
One research review found that the gut microbiome can influence prostate inflammation in prostate conditions, including prostate cancer .
These researchers suggest that dysbiosis (an imbalance of gut bacteria and fungus) may be an underlying, primary cause of chronic prostatitis and that probiotics may provide a therapeutic strategy .
In one clinical trial, long-term treatment with rifaximin and a probiotic supplement reduced the recurrence rate of chronic prostatitis and prevented the spread of infection to other parts of the reproductive tract .
Probiotic supplements may therefore be helpful for improving your prostate health.
Probiotics for Heart Health
Heart disease may be one of the most common men’s health concerns. Throughout life, men are about twice as likely as women to have a heart attack . This is the conclusion from a very large study of nearly 34,000 people in Norway. This higher risk for men persisted even after accounting for other risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, body mass index, and physical activity.
The “gut hypothesis” of cardiac disease suggests that inflammation and other gut-related changes may be the culprit behind many heart conditions. Recent research reviews (the highest-quality of scientific data) support this hypothesis and found that [24, 25, 26, 27]:
Changes in the composition and diversity of the gut microbiome have been observed in patients with heart failure.
Compounds produced by gut bacteria can lead to increased susceptibility to heart disease.
Leaky gut is likely the cause for the low-grade inflammation found in heart disease patients.
Research into the potential benefits of probiotic supplements for heart health is still in its infancy, with only one small human clinical trial to date. In this study, subjects attending a heart failure outpatient clinic were given the probiotic S. boullardii or a placebo for three months. At the end of the study, the S. boulardii patient group showed :
Significant reduction in the overall diameter of the left heart artery. This is an exciting finding because swelling of this artery is linked to heart failure and atrial fibrillation.
Small improvements in metabolic lab markers compared to the placebo group. This included a reduction in total cholesterol and uric acid levels.
Additional research into probiotics and markers of metabolic health mostly show modest improvements for weight loss and improving cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels [29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34].
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. Preliminary evidence suggests that probiotics may be valuable in an overall plan for heart health that also includes dietary and lifestyle modifications.
Probiotics for Brain Health
Brain health includes not only our cognitive health, but our mental health as well. Brain health is increasingly important as we age, and some studies show that men may have a slightly higher risk of developing mild cognitive impairment .
Cognition involves our ability to remember things, solve problems, care for ourselves on a daily basis, and learn new information.
Studies on probiotics for cognitive health show us that 12 weeks of probiotics improved cognition in both people with mild cognitive impairment as well as early dementia, but not in people with no cognitive symptoms [36, 37].
Mental Health and Mood
While more research is needed, preliminary research shows that probiotics can help improve symptoms of depression and anxiety [38, 39, 40, 41, 42].
Probiotics can help with mood because of the gut-brain axis/gut-brain connection. Evidence suggests that gut inflammation can lead to brain inflammation, which then can disrupt normal brain function and mood. In fact, many mood disorders co-occur with gastrointestinal disorders such as metabolic syndrome, IBD, and IBS [43, 44].
Because gut health is so important in mental and cognitive health, adding in a daily probiotic may be a great way to support brain health.
Probiotics for Better Sleep
Research suggests that men have poorer sleep quality when compared with women. According to one study, men have shorter sleep times, take longer to fall asleep, and have lower sleep efficiency (the percentage of time you’re actually asleep during the night) .
Chronic poor sleep can have negative impacts on your overall health, including your mental health.
Preliminary evidence shows that probiotics can help to improve sleep:
In a clinical trial of medical students, those who took probiotic supplements showed superior sleep quality during times of exam stress .
In another clinical trial, participants reported that their sleep quality improved after six weeks of taking probiotics .
A study of IBS patients showed sleep improvements for diarrhea-type IBS patients. The same results were not seen for constipation-type mixed-type IBS patients .
Finally, a study of subjects with depression showed that the group taking probiotic supplements had less sleep disruption than the placebo group .
If you suffer from poor sleep quality, probiotics may help to improve your sleep.
The Best Probiotic for Men
A quick search on Amazon shows that men’s probiotics are marketed widely. And while it’s true that men’s health concerns are unique, it’s not true that there’s a best probiotic supplement for men that is different from what women need.
In fact, all probiotics work synergistically to balance the gut microbiome, modulate the immune system, and reduce inflammation.
Some health professionals may recommend a specific probiotic strain or species for specific health conditions because it was used successfully in a relevant study. It’s important to remember though that having just one or two small studies — while helpful in the advancement of understanding how probiotics help improve wellness — isn’t clinically significant enough to be proof of efficacy.
Rather than trying to identify the best probiotic for men, using a powerful, multi-species protocol is the most effective choice for the vast majority of patients.
This probiotic protocol calls for a combination of one blend of probiotic species from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium category, a Saccharomyces boulardii probiotic, and a third supplement that includes soil-based probiotic species. Taken together, you receive all of the gut-balancing power you need to restore and maintain a healthy gut microbiome. This would be my recommendation for the best probiotic for men, and everyone.
Each category of probiotic works as one leg of a three-legged stool. Each leg of the stool performs key functions, but it needs the other two legs to hold up the stool.
Here are the three categories of probiotic supplements I recommend. Take all three categories together to optimize the number of different species of healthy bacteria you get from your dietary supplements.
Lacto-Bifido probiotic blend: A blend of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species (such as Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum or Bifidobacterium longum) is what is most commonly used in research and is widely available to purchase.
Saccharomyces boulardii probiotic: Actually a healthy type of fungus. It’s the second most commonly used probiotic supplement in research studies, with a great track record for safety.
Soil-based probiotic: This third probiotic supplement type is formulated from Bacillus species, which are naturally found in the soil and have a long history of inhabiting the human microbiome.
What About Fermented Foods?
Including fermented foods such as kimchi or sauerkraut in your diet is a great way to add more healthy bacteria to your digestive system. Most of the healthy bacteria in fermented foods fall into the Lactobacillus family. Typical bacterial species include Lactobacillus acidophilus in yogurt, Lactobacillus casei in kefir and Lactobacillus plantarum in sauerkraut.
Keep in mind that unless you eat very large amounts of fermented foods, you won’t be getting a therapeutic dose of probiotics. Also, probiotic supplements can provide a wider range of probiotic species.
Shopping For Probiotics
Probiotic manufacturing isn’t highly regulated and some label claims do not stand up to scrutiny. This is why it’s so important to buy a quality probiotic supplement.
As a consumer, it’s important to get your probiotic money’s worth and avoid buying junk products. These criteria can help you choose a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Have a clearly stated list of species
Have clearly stated number of colony-forming units (CFUs) in the billions
Are labeled free of common allergens and other fillers you may wish to avoid (e.g. gluten-free, non-GMO, lactose-free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegan)
Show Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification
Be lab-verified for probiotic species and potency by third-party analysis (independent lab testing)
Do I Need to Buy a Special Formulation?
Some probiotic supplements are marketed as special formulations that include prebiotic fiber or have been encapsulated to protect the beneficial bacteria from stomach acid. And of course there are many formulas that are labeled as being the best probiotic for men.
It’s not necessary to buy special probiotic formulations, especially if they’re more expensive. What’s more important is that you’re buying a high quality, lab-verified probiotic supplement from a reputable supplier.
Based on the benefits demonstrated through research, a simple, high-quality probiotic supplement should be effective for meeting your health needs.
Your Probiotic Protocol
A proper balance of good and bad bacteria in the microbiota is crucial for ideal health — for both men and women. Poor gut health leads to an overactive immune system and inflammation throughout the body. This is a key factor in a litany of modern-day health conditions and has significant implications for your overall health and vitality.
While we don’t currently have a large body of research into the benefits of probiotics for men’s health concerns like sexual health, heart health, and prostate health, I do think we’ll learn a lot more in the next few years. Probiotics is a growing area of research in human health. In the meantime, I hope I’ve convinced you that there’s already enough evidence for you to include probiotics as a part of your daily health routine.
The best way to do this is to get a good-quality probiotic (multi-strain if you can) and trial it for at least a month and keep track of any improvement in symptoms. After four weeks, if you see improvement, continue with the probiotics until you reach a plateau in your improvement. After your plateau, continue to use the probiotic for another month to be sure the improvements last, and then see about decreasing the probiotics over the next month to find your personal ideal probiotic regimen.
If you’d like help with a protocol for improved health, we have health coaches on staff to help you. Learn more about becoming a patient at the Ruscio Institute for Functional Medicine.
The Ruscio Institute has developed a range of high-quality formulations to help our patients and audience. If you’re interested in learning more about these products, please click here. Note that there are many other options available, and we encourage you to research which products may be right for you.
Hey there, Erin here from the Dr. Ruscio team. Can I tell you how excited I am that our brand new three in one probiotic formula is now available on our website store. It’s an easy to use powder stick format.
So I’ve been taking Dr. Ruscio’s recommended three for balanced probiotic for two years. Now I seem to take my soil-based probiotic just fine, because it’s right there next to my other supplements. But man, am I lazy about taking all three each day? The barrier for me is literally just walking over to the fridge and uncapping the other two bottles. I know it’s not hard, but that’s how busy and distracted life can be I guess.
With this three in one formula, you mix one stick with your favorite cold beverage, one to two times per day. It’s tasteless, so it won’t ruin your favorite drink. Take it with, or without food. It’s really useful as a part of your gut support and healing program and it can be used for ongoing immune and gut health maintenance. No pills, just poor mix and drink. Visit store.drruscio.com and order now.
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