T Nation

Probiotics and Cholesterol


I have read probiotics/or just certain strains of probiotics can lower total cholesterol/ and or LDL levels
Is this true, is it a fact has it ever been proven and if so how much does the level or levels decrease from probiotics?
I wish to use probiotics for ibs but I do not really want them to lower cholesterol if it will effect my Testosterone levels.



First, as a bit of limitation in my reply, to be clear that it's not 100% comprehensive:

In my research, I have really little interest in either HDL or LDL levels, as in and of themselves they're not demonstrated to be good predictors of cardiovascular risk or any health measure. They're also not direct causes of anything (which is why they're not good predictors.) So, not considering them of much importance in and of themselves, I won't necessarily remember every finding I've ever found in research journals on those points.

There are quite a number of biomarkers that I do consider very important and track results on those, but not HDL and LDL themselves.

That said, to leave open the possibility I could have simply not remembered something, I don't recall a commercial formulation that has been demonstrated to have substantial and actually proven effect on HDL or LDL levels without also using prebiotic which could have the same effect by itself.

I know of no evidence of probiotics decreasing testosterone.

Despite the fact that it's a multibillion dollar market, especially in Europe, probiotics are an area where there could be much improvement, comparing strains which are reported in the literature versus strains which are on the market.

If focusing on the IBS rather than HDL and LDL, this is one of the relatively few areas where some commercial probiotics have been shown to be of some benefit. (The other areas are diarrhea, constipation, pouchitis, urogenital infections, Clostridium difficile infections, enterocolitis, eczema, and acne.)

These products don't supply any special strains really, but for a probiotic just relatively high numbers of several common Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species.

Rather than recommend a specific product, as IBS isn't something I work with, to my knowledge Googling for person's experiences and reviews and evaluating in terms of the above -- basically, those bacteria types and high numbers of them -- will do. Or Pubmed indexes some studies, though the ones I remember which used a commercial product were at least strongly associated with the manufacturer.


Can they or do they lower cholesterol, I read that they can is it a fact, if so do all probiotics lower cholesterol or certain strains, and if they can is it lowered to any significant degree?

Thanks Bill


So can probiotics lower cholesterol is it proven or a fact, if so is it all probiotics or certain strains, and if so is cholesterol lowered to any significant degree from probiotics

I need to use them but don't really want cholesterol lowered

Thanks Bill


Inflammation itself can raise cholesterol levels as they may be used by the body to reduce inflammation, so if probiotics reduced cholesterol, I would think it would be by reducing inflammation.

LDL can actually be LOW if you have been fighting infections, as LDL is used up by the immune system.


Miniarnold, the difficulty is coming with the word "cholesterol."

It's really unfortunate, but it's something that can't be stopped, that doctors and even researchers routinely refer to HDL and LDL as "cholesterol" or varieties of "cholesterol."

Cholesterol is a distinct chemical substance. I see your thinking: low actual cholesterol, the chemical substance, would reduce testosterone. And you don't want that.

HDL and LDL are not cholesterol. They are not even chemically related. They are lipoproteins, while cholesterol is a steroid.

They get called cholesterol by doctors and often researchers as well, but they are not.

Change in LDL or HDL does not affect the amount of cholesterol available for testosterone production. Totally different things. Testosterone is not made from either HDL or LDL.


Thanks for your reply Bill

So to raise testosterone through cholesterol levels, then the amount of total cholesterol being higher the better is the important factor, and HDL and LDL levels are unimportant, correct?


Well, it's just tremendously confusing how doctors in general, various researchers, and the media refer to lipoproteins (HDL, LDL, or total of these plus a percentage of triglycerides) as "cholesterol" when they are no such thing. Cholesterol is a particular, exact kind of molecule of its own, entirely different kind.

HDL and LDL are particles comprising proteins, which carry fats and also carry cholesterol. But they are not cholesterol, simply aren't, and their levels don't say how much actual cholesterol -- the real stuff, the molecule itself -- there is in the body.

Cholesterol itself is not a particle, nor a protein.

HDL, LDL, and "total cholesterol" (which is total of HDL and LDL, plus strangely 20% of your triglycerides, meaning fats) are not used in steroid biosynthesis.

It's kind of like confusing trains with business executives.

It could be true that many business executive, as well as other people, go to work in NYC on trains.

But calling the trains "business executives," or measuring how many business executives commute to NYC each morning by counting trains, would be a mistake.

I know it could sound unbelievable that so many authorities could use words so badly and generate such confusion, but they do. Cholesterol is a different substance entirely from HDL, LDL, or the total of HDL, LDL, and 20% of triglycerides. It is real cholesterol that is used for steroid biosynthesis, not these illogically and confusingly named other things.

The bad naming even results in wrong thinking by some of these authorities. They conclude, for example, that foods which contain cholesterol must, logically, increase blood "cholesterol." After all, the dietary cholesterol is going to go right into your bloodstream thus raising blood "cholesterol," right?

Well no because they are different substances entirely.


Thanks for your detailed answer,

so to simplify sex hormones such as testosterone are made from cholesterol and HDL & LDL have nothing to do with hormones made from cholesterol?

I read that higher the LDL the better for testosterone


Thanks for your detailed answer,

so to simplify sex hormones such as testosterone are made from cholesterol and HDL & LDL have nothing to do with hormones made from cholesterol?

I read that higher the LDL the better for testosterone


Yes, exactly.

I'd be interested to know the basis for that being claimed.

It would be very hard to study. If for example, one could inject LDL and it was found that doing so increased testosterone, that would be good evidence. But that won't have been done.

It may well be true that on average people with unusually low LDL have lower testosterone, but it could be that the same things that brought the LDL unusually low also lowered the testosterone. It might be that on changing their diet their testosterone might improve and their LDL also increase, but that wouldn't prove that the increase in LDL improved testosterone.

For example, diets with less than 30% calories from fat are likely to lower testosterone and lower LDL as well. But that wouldn't mean show the lowered LDL lowered the testosterone. And if someone on such a diet increased his fat intake, his testosterone would likely increase, but it wouldn't follow that this would have to be caused by change in LDL.