Testosterone Boosting Bacterias: Probiotics for Men
Conventional medicine often has a tendency to be reductionist when it comes to disease states and symptoms, boxing them in and failing to see the whole picture. This was the basis for the creation of the holistic health view; how to treat the body as a whole and not reduce it into smaller and smaller parts.
Traditional medicinal practices such as Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine has successfully approached healing in this way for thousands of years. Western medicine is still catching up and just now beginning to understand that the sum is more than its individual parts.
One astonishing fact that is becoming more apparent is that your body does not only consist of you, but also of billions of other microorganisms that you host. Many of these microorganisms actually influence how your body works and even how you feel and think. They are a part of you in the same manner as you are a part of them, a relationship dependent on each other.
If I told you the ratio and type of these beneficial bacterias can decide how manly you are and even influence the size of your testicles, most of you would be running down to your local GNC right now stocking up on probiotics.
However, even though bacterias can have these beneficial effects, the relationship are far more complex and requires a deeper look into the world of microscopic life in your gut. Before we get into the nitty-gritty on testosterone and gut bacteria, let’s run through the details on how big of a part your gut plays on your overall health.
Buckle up and let’s get started.
Less Known Benefits of Probiotics
Most people have heard of probiotic supplements as they are often used by individuals with gut issues or other problems related to digestion such as diarrhea or constipation. Probiotic fermented foods such as yogurt have also become a common staple on the western breakfast menu.
That probiotics also improve immunity is widely understood; however, there are many more benefits to be had from the kingdom of microscopic bacteria.
To start off with, there is plenty of connections to be made between your brain and your gut. The gut is often labeled your second brain, and there is something called “the gut-brain axis,” which is the routes of communication that exists between your brain and your gut, also called the “vagus nerve.”
That stress and anxiety often come hand in hand with stomach issues is a clear indicator of this. We all know the pain and indigestion that can originate from that chronic stress at work, or rising nausea from being nervous about that speech.
People don’t realize that the gut and your mental and emotional wellbeing are so interconnected. The good news is that caring for your gut can also then improve aspects of your brain and cognitive functioning.
There are plenty of animal studies as well as human studies out there that show the following benefits from consumption of beneficial bacteria strains:
Another interesting and less known benefit is that probiotics can improve cardiovascular health. They can exert this effect by lowering bile acids and reducing bad cholesterol which leads to lower inflammatory markers.
Even more interesting for athletes out there is the study that showed that gut bacteria is vital for proper conversion of dietary nitrates (such as from beetroots) into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is that remarkable biochemical that dilates our blood vessels, providing us with an incredible muscle pump, lower blood pressure and rock hard erections.
Probiotics, Stress, And Muscle: What Is The Connection?
If you are trying to pack on some muscle or recover faster from your last workout, the stress hormone cortisol is your enemy #1. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone released at times of stress to give us the energy to withstand stressors, as well as acting in an anti-inflammatory fashion to prevent any damage such as from injuries. However, when it comes to building muscle, cortisol can break down muscle tissues for energy which is the opposite of what you want.
Chronic stress and anxiety will keep cortisol levels running high. Cortisol also has an adverse effect on testosterone and will push down your levels over time if you don’t make room for relaxation in your life.
One amazing discovery made when it comes to probiotics is that they play an integral part in our stress response. A clear indicator that stress and the gut are highly connected, supplying a rationale of how your dietary choices also can affect your stress levels through gut mediated bacteria changes.
Many strains of probiotics have been shown to be anxiolytic in research studies. One of the most powerful ones seems to be the strain Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, which was shown in a mice study to be able to reduce cortisol levels a 100-fold in response to stress, as well as increase levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain, which is responsible for relaxation.
So next time you are looking for a high protein snack at the supermarket, yogurt might be a perfect choice to keep your stress hormones in check and keep a level head with all of life’s stresses breathing down your neck. Of course for any more severe anxiety conditions, hitting it hard with a probiotic supplement would be a wiser choice.
Beneficial Bacterias and Your Testicles: The Unexpected Relationship
Here is the headliner you’ve been waiting for all your life, “Probiotics can make your balls bigger!”. Yes, that’s right, all proven by science. The bacteria responsible for this fortunate effect is called Lactobacillus Reuteri, and not only can it increase testicular size, but it has also been shown to:
- Increase circulating levels of testosterone
- Make you more socially dominant (alpha male characteristics)
- Improves sperm quality and volume
- Prevents testicular shrinkage (age related)
- Increases HPT (hypothalamus-pituitary-testis) activity
Even when the L. Reuteri group in the study was fed a junk food diet, these benefits of increased testosterone and testicular size persisted, proving a unique mechanism to influence male fertility. This goes far, and beyond those simple ineffective testosterone boosters, you see lining the shelves of your local GNC.
Clearly, probiotics are indeed impressive and we’re sure you’ll agree much more beneficial than for just digestion. Even overall probiotic intake in diets is positively correlated with hormone production.
We like to think of probiotics as your little helpers that roam around your body doing repairs, keeping all systems in check. They benefit from your health since they live in you, and you benefit from them. It’s a mutual relationship, and they are as much a part of you, as you are of them.
So how do we implement, grow and nurture these bacterias to reap all the benefits? Let’s look at the best nutritional choices you can make to keep these bacterias flowing.
Ways to Increase Your Beneficial Bacterias
The easiest way to increase the amount of beneficial bacteria in your body is to consume probiotic supplements or supplements that benefit the gut. They can come in many forms such as capsules of different strains of bacteria or as substances that fuel a healthy gut environment for bacteria to grow, such as fiber supplements.
Keep in mind however that supplements that condition the bacteria you already have in your gut won’t necessarily help wipe out the “bad bacteria” that you host. For this, you need to bombard them with specific beneficial bacteria strains or let time run its course, and hopefully, your immune system and body will balance them out over time.
By bad bacteria, we mean strains such as Candida, which is responsible for causing fungal infections and can wreck havoc in your body. Candida lives primary on sugar and high GI foods, so minimizing these in your diet can offer you protection as well as wipe them out. Candida is an excellent example of how a bad diet can shift your delicate gut microflora towards hosting “bad bacteria.”
The easiest way to promote healthy colonies of beneficial bacterias is through including specific foods regularly in your diet. The following are the best probiotic foods for your gut:
Yogurt is by far the most popular probiotic food on the planet. It is made by fermenting milk with different strains of bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria or lactic acid bacteria strains. Yogurt has been shown to be able to reduce blood pressure, IBS symptoms and improve overall gut health.
Many people can’t handle dairy well so before you plan on incorporating yogurt as a major food in your diet, get tested for potential dairy intolerances, or you might be doing yourself more harm than good.
It is also critical that you make sure that the yogurt you get contains active cultures, the best way is to make it yourself. Lot’s of yogurt on the market is heavily processed and heated after fermentation which destroys all the beneficial bacteria in the process. Also watch out for yogurts with lots of added sugars which are more likely to fuel those “bad bacterias” such as Candida, rather than incorporating more of the good ones.
Kefir closely resembles yogurt, but is more liquid in its form and is consumed as a drink. It is made by fermenting milk with kefir grains, which are pieces of bacteria cultures.
People have been consuming kefir for over 3000 years, and the word kefir means “feeling good” in Turkish. Research done of kefir has shown it to improve digestion, bone health and reduce markers of inflammation.
3. Sauerkraut & Kimchi
Both Sauerkraut and Kimchi are dishes made by fermenting cabbage with strains of beneficial bacteria. Sauerkraut is a European dish and is very popular in Germany.
Kimchi, on the other hand, is a fermented cabbage dish from Korea that in addition to its probiotic content also contain chili, scallions, garlic and ginger.
They are both excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin K2 and can make up both the vegetable/salad part, as well as probiotic part of your meal.
4. Blue Cheese
Among the many varieties of cheese, there are quite a few that go through stages of fermentation that leave them containing significant amounts of probiotics, most still intact even after they reach the shelves of your local supermarket.
Blue cheese is the king of probiotic cheeses and contains bacterias of the Bifida and lactic acid strains along with some other beneficial fungal probiotics.
Not only that, but blue cheese also provides the ideal fatty acid ratios for testosterone production (plenty of saturated fats) as well as being an excellent source of protein and vitamin K2. An easy and tasty way to incorporate it into your diet regularly is by crumbling it into salads along with some olive oil and a handful of walnuts.
A higher fiber intake can also be beneficial for the bacteria growing in your gut, however, depending on your goals, a higher fiber intake has been correlated with lower levels of circulating sex hormones. This is because fiber absorbs hormones in your gut and proceed to bring them out of your body. Without a high fiber intake, your body would recycle some of these hormones.
If you are estrogen dominant, however, fiber would be beneficial as it would help clean out excess estrogen, which is far more important than keeping testosterone levels at a max.
Probiotics is an often untapped ergogenic aid that few athletes value highly even though the research is undeniably positive. Incorporating them into your routine can provide you with that upper hand against the competition, or even help bring your body back into a healthy balance at all levels of life. Though you were probably sold on the idea of just bigger testicles, consuming probiotics has the potential to bring you so much further than that.