It’s not a secret that there are differences in the physiology between men and women. But what is not always clear is the impact that these differences have in the way our body and organs function.
What should men and women do differently to achieve the same results? Do women have to pay more attention to their gut health? And what are the extra attention points men should take into consideration that don’t apply to women?
Let’s go through some of the differences between men and women gastrointestinal tract (GI) and their impact on gut health.
Obviously men and women are made differently. Along with digestive organs, women also carry the reproductive organs in their abdomen. Because of this, women have a different internal setup which doesn’t allow as much room as males have around their intestines.
It’s no new news that our diet plays a major role in our digestive system. An intake that consists of processed foods, sugars and other additives alters our microbiota. Eating whole foods and adding probiotics to one’s regimen supports the natural healing process of our organism.
What researchers from The University of Texas at Austin also discovered is that the same diet presents different results in men and women.
In trials done with humans, a certain diet affected the microbiota of males and females differently. What it implies is that while men and women may follow the exact food patterns, they GI may react adversely.
It’s possible that hormones associated with each sex might affect the composition of gut microbiota. This would favor the presence of certain strains of bacteria over others. Also, hormonal levels in women vary more than in men which contributes to this variation (1).
Gut Health in Women
There is some evidence that women’s senses are more sensitive than men’s. They tend to taste both bitter and sweet foods more strongly than men. This increased sensitivity of the gut to different types of stimulation is seen throughout a woman’s GI tract. This may cause women to experience heartburn more than men (2).
Because of these sensitivities, it is possible that women may overuse of aspirins more than their male counterparts. These OTCs cause damage to the stomach because they irritate its lining and in extreme cases may lead to ulcers. Since women have a different enzyme system that breaks down medications in the small intestine and liver, their tolerance to various medications isn’t the same either (3).
But the biggest difference lies in the colon. Some of the conditions more frequent in women than men are:
- Chronic constipation
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Something as simple as drinking eight glasses of water (no juices or coffee included) can already have a positive impact in gut health. Also, because of the increased levels of progesterone during pregnancy, among other factors, it’s not rare that women are more prone to:
The usage of probiotics can balance microbiota and promote well-being.
Gut Health in Men
For men, prostate cancer is the second most prevalent form of cancer. One out of every seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Of those, 1 out of 38 will actually die from the disease (4). Like any type of cancer, early treatment is crucial and makes the difference between life and death.
Some first trials are connecting the role that diet may help in the prevention of prostate cancer (5). One theory suggest that cancer can be linked back to inflammation so gut health is incredibly important in prevention.
Furthermore, men who receive chemotherapy for prostate cancer or other cancers run the risk of developing diarrhea as a side effect of treatment. But according to a study in the British Journal of Cancer, those who were given the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (ATCC 53103), a subspecies of L. casei, experienced less severe diarrhea, less stomach problems and had a shorter hospitalization than patients who did not take the probiotic (6).
More and more research is confirming that men and women should receive differentiated treatment. Whether through adapted amounts or even through the exclusion of certain medicaments, the promotion of gut health between men and women needs to be dealt separately for better results.
Don’t neglect taking different measures that you consider beneficial to your gut health. In addition to sex-related differences, the individual blueprint can’t be ignored either. Both men and women should adapt their habits accordingly for optimal health.
Male or female, we’ve got the probiotic for you! Try Synbiotics SB3 to help with digestion and support your immune system.
1. Individual diet has sex-dependent effects on vertebrate gut microbiota – http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/140729/ncomms5500/full/ncomms5500.html#results
2. Shakti Singh, M.D. – The Impact of Hormones and Female Anatomy – https://www.mylifestages.org/health/digestive_health/digestion_in_women.page
3. Rebecca Ensley, DO, and Alissa Speziale, MD, FACG, FACP, Naval Medical Center San Diego, San Diego, CA – Updated July 2013. Robyn G. Karlstadt, MD, MACG, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Wayne, PA – Published October 2002. Updated April 2007. – American College of Gastroenterology – http://patients.gi.org/topics/common-gi-problems-in-women/
4. American Cancer Society – What are the key statistics about prostate cancer? – Last review March, 12, 2015. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-key-statistics
5. Cheri L. Van Patten, Johan G. de Boer, Emma S. Tomlinson Guns – Diet and Dietary Supplement Intervention Trials for the Prevention of Prostate Cancer Recurrence: A Review of the Randomized Controlled Trial Evidence – The Journal of Urology, December 2008, Volume 180, Issue 6, Pages 2314–2322
6. M B Garg, L F Lincz, K Adler, F E Scorgie, S P Ackland and J A Sakoff – Predicting 5-fluorouracil toxicity in colorectal cancer patients from peripheral blood cell telomere length: a multivariate analysis – British Journal of Cancer (2012) 107, 1525–1533. doi:10.1038/bjc.2012.421