At one time, the idea of tossing down a few billion live bacteria a day for your health might have seemed strange. After all, bacteria are one of the primary causes of disease.
But today, probiotics—or “good” bacteria—are widely accepted. Sales of probiotic products have soared in recent years. They are expected to hit $10 billion next year.1
And consumers are starting to discover that probiotic benefits go beyond digestive health. They are linked to better immunity, dental health, and mood. Studies also show they can prevent allergy and eczema flare-ups.2,3
Probiotics are proving crucial for women’s health, too.
Many women know that yogurt with live probiotic cultures can stop yeast infections.4 But probiotics are also effective against vaginal bacterial infections. These are the most common type of vaginal infection. Bacterial vaginal infections are twice as prevalent as yeast problems in premenopausal women.5,6
It may seem counterintuitive to use bacteria to stop a bacterial infection. But it makes sense when you understand that the vagina, like the gut, has its own microflora. And it needs to be balanced. If there are no good bacteria to keep the bad ones in check, bad bacteria can take over. An infection is the result.
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Women Need This Probiotic Strain
A healthy vagina has a bacterial pool of more than 50 species. The most common are Lactobacilli. This strain acts as a defensive force, keeping out disease-causing microbes.7
Researchers at the University of Western Ontario conducted a comprehensive review of studies to find out if probiotics were effective against bacterial vaginal infections. They discovered they were. But some probiotic strains were found to work better than others.8
Lactobacilli is the one women need most. It is commonly found in unpasteurized yogurt. You’ll also find it in quality probiotic supplements.
But whether you eat yogurt or take a supplement, it’s best to look for products that have more than one Lactobacilli species… Not just the most common one, L. acidophilus. Look for L. casei and L. rhamnosus.9
And if you eat yogurt, be sure to choose brands that have no sugar added. Sugar can fuel yeast infections.
There’s something else women should know about one of the most common kinds of vaginal infections, candida. It may cause cancer.