The Ultimate Guide to Men’s Gut Health
Gut and Skin Health Expert Blog | The Y Collection

The Ultimate Guide to Men’s Gut Health

by Jelena Vulevic on Sep 11, 2023

Gut health plays a pivotal role in our overall well-being, and recent research has started shedding light on how it can differ between genders. Gender-specific differences in gut health arise from a combination of biological, hormonal, and genetic factors. These differences start to emerge early in life and continue throughout adulthood, shaping the distinct characteristics of the male and female gut.

Understanding these gender-specific differences is more than just a quest for knowledge; it forms the foundation for personalised approaches to men's health. From digestion to immunity, energy levels to mood regulation, the male gut influences every aspect of a man's life. In this article, we will explore the significant gender-based variations in gut health and their broader impact on men’s overall health.

Good gut health is the key to your overall health. Find out if Y GUT sensitive is right for you.


The gut: key to overall health? 

The gut, often referred to as the "second brain" plays a pivotal role in overall health and well-being. The gut is a complex and dynamic system where trillions of microorganisms residing in its ecosystem constantly interact with billions of immune cells and millions of neurons.

Key reasons why the gut is considered a cornerstone of overall health are:

  • Nutrient Absorption: The gut is responsible for breaking down food and absorbing essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, providing the necessary fuel for our body to function.
  • Immune System Support: The gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) plays a vital role in recognising and defending against harmful pathogens, helping to protect the body from infections and illnesses.
  • Gut Microbiota: Gut bacteria, viruses, and fungi play essential roles in digestion, nutrient metabolism, and the regulation of the immune system.
  • Influence on Mental Health: The gut and the brain are intricately connected through the gut-brain axis that involves neural, hormonal, and immune pathways, and influences mood, emotions, and stress responses.
  • Energy Production: The gut microbiota can ferment certain dietary fibres, producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that serve as an energy source for the body's cells and play a role in metabolic health.
  • Skin Health: The gut-skin axis highlights the connection between gut health and skin health. An imbalanced gut can influence skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
  • Gut Barrier Integrity: The gut barrier acts as a protective shield, preventing harmful substances from entering the bloodstream. A well-functioning gut barrier is essential for preventing gut inflammation and autoimmune responses.

Men’s vs. women’s gut health: key gender disparities  

Key gender disparities between men’s and women’s gut health arise from the distinct biological and hormonal differences between the sexes. These differences influence various aspects of gut function and overall health:

  • Gut Microbiota Composition: Women tend to have a more diverse gut microbiome, which can partly be attributed to the hormonal fluctuations they experience during the menstrual cycle. In contrast, men's gut microbiota show higher levels of certain bacteria, influenced by the impact of testosterone.
  • Hormonal Influences: Gut health and hormones are intrinsically linked. In women, fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone levels throughout the menstrual cycle can impact gut motility, gut barrier integrity, and the composition of gut bacteria. For men, the higher levels of testosterone affect gut motility, making them more prone to certain gut issues like constipation.
  • Digestive Enzymes: Women and men differ in the production and activity of certain digestive enzymes that are essential for breaking down food and absorbing nutrients. Such variations can influence nutrient absorption and digestive function.
  • Gut Permeability: Women and men also exhibit differences in gut permeability (the integrity of the gut barrier). Changes in gut permeability can impact how substances pass through the gut lining and affect inflammation and immune responses.
  • Prevalence of Gut Disorders: Certain gastrointestinal disorders are more common in one gender than the other. For example, conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gallstones are more prevalent in women, while conditions like acid reflux and certain types of ulcers are more common in men.
  • Immune Responses: Gender disparities in immune responses can also affect gut health. Women generally have stronger immune responses due to higher oestrogen levels, which may lead to greater susceptibility to certain autoimmune conditions.
  • Metabolism and Weight Management: Gut function can affect metabolic processes differently in men and women. Men usually have a higher basal metabolic rate due to their higher muscle mass, while women's metabolism can be influenced by hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. Understanding your metabolism, including gender differences, can impact weight management strategies and responses to dietary interventions.

The biggest signs of poor gut health in men 

Although men and women can experience similar signs of an unhealthy gut, some symptoms of specific conditions or problems associated with men, mainly due to testosterone levels that affect and are affected by gut health, are:

  • Constipation or irregular bowel habits
  • Weight changes
  • Increased fatigue
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Dry skin
  • Appetite changes
  • However, it's essential to note that individual factors, lifestyle choices, and genetics also play significant roles in the development of poor gut health signs. 

    How men’s gut health changes with age 

    As men age, several changes occur in gut function as part of the natural ageing process. These changes can influence various aspects of gut health. Some of the common ways men's gut health may change with age include:

    • Slower Digestion: The digestive process may slow down with age, leading to delayed emptying of the stomach and reduced gut motility. This can result in a feeling of fullness and may contribute to issues like indigestion or constipation.
    • Changes in Gut Microbiota: Ageing is associated with alterations in the gut microbiome, with a decline in beneficial bacteria diversity and an increase in harmful bacteria. This shift can affect gut health and immune function.
    • Reduced Gut Barrier Function: With age, the gut barrier may become more permeable, allowing harmful substances to pass through and trigger inflammation. This may contribute to conditions like leaky gut syndrome.
    • Changes in Appetite and Food Preferences: Some men may experience changes in appetite and food preferences as they age, leading to alterations in dietary habits that can impact gut health.
    • Constipation: Constipation is more common in older men due to reduced gut motility and decreased muscle tone in the colon.
    • Nutrient Absorption: Age-related changes in gut function can impact the absorption of certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, calcium, and iron.

    Male specific diseases and gut health 

    There are some diseases and conditions that predominantly or exclusively affect males due to biological and genetic differences between males and females, and for which gut health has been associated:

    • Prostate Cancer: Some studies have explored the potential role of the gut microbiome in prostate cancer. Alterations in the gut microbiota may influence inflammation and immune responses, which could be relevant in the development or progression of certain cancers, including prostate cancer.
    • Colorectal Cancer: Colorectal cancer is more prevalent in men and can have associations with the gut microbiome. Dysbiosis, an imbalance in the gut microbiota, has been observed in individuals with colorectal cancer.
    • Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH): Some studies suggest that chronic inflammation and hormonal imbalances influenced by gut health might contribute to prostatic diseases.

    Gut health and mental health 

    Your gut is more than just a digestion hub; it plays a significant role in your overall mental and emotional balance. The "gut-brain axis" is a bidirectional communication system between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain. The two are connected physically and biochemically, and this connection plays a significant role in influencing our emotions, mood, and mental well-being. Mental health is linked to gut health through:

  • Neurotransmitters Production
  • Microbiota Metabolites
  • Inflammation and Immune System
  • Stress Response
  • Vagus Nerve
  • Hormones and Gut Peptides

  • In the UK, mental health conditions affect men across all age groups. According to recent statistics, around 12.5% of men in England are diagnosed with a common mental health disorder, with anxiety and depression being the most prevalent conditions. Sadly, men may be less likely to discuss their emotional struggles, leading to underreporting and potential challenges in accessing support. As men, it's crucial to pay attention to this connection and prioritise gut health to safeguard mental wellness. 

    How to improve men’s gut health 

    Improving men's gut health involves adopting healthy lifestyle habits that support the balance of gut microbiota, protect the barrier function and promote overall digestive well-being. Here are some essential tips to enhance men's gut health:

    • Dietary Changes: Consume a gut health diet rich in fibre, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, kimchi. These foods are rich in biotics, nourishing the beneficial gut bacteria and promoting gut health.
    • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support digestive processes and prevent constipation.
    • Limit Processed Foods and Sugar: Reduce the consumption of processed foods and added sugars, as they can disrupt the gut microbiome and contribute to gastrointestinal issues.
    • Exercise Regularly: Exercise improves gut health,  as it can enhance gut motility and contribute to a healthier digestive system.
    • Manage Stress: Reduce the impact of stress with  meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. High stress levels can negatively impact gut health.
    • Get Enough Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Sufficient sleep supports gut health and overall well-being.
    • Avoid Excessive Alcohol and Tobacco: Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can negatively affect gut health. Limiting these habits can benefit the digestive system.
    • Limit Antibiotic Use: Use antibiotics only when necessary and as prescribed by a healthcare professional. Antibiotics can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria.
    • Chew Food Thoroughly: Take your time when eating and chew food thoroughly to aid digestion.
    • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Gut health and weight loss are interconnected, with excess weight known to contribute to digestive issues. Maintaining a balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise are key factors for achieving and sustaining a healthy weight.
    • Stay Informed: Stay up-to-date with the latest research on gut health and digestive wellness. Knowledge empowers you to make informed choices. Be sure not to miss out on our Guide to gut repair - it’s here to lend a helping hand whenever you need it.  

    Men’s gut health supplements 

    Men's gut health supplements can complement a balanced diet and lifestyle to support a healthy gut microbiome and overall digestive wellness. Check out our article on how to find the right gut health supplement. Meanwhile, here are some common supplements that men should consider:

    • Probiotics: Probiotic supplements contain live beneficial bacteria that can help improve gut microbial diversity and balance. Since men’s gut microbiota have lower microbial diversity, look for supplements with a variety of strains, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species.
    • Prebiotics: Prebiotic-containing supplements, such as Y GUT sensitive, provide fibres that nourish the beneficial gut bacteria, promoting their growth and activity. With only 13% of men in the UK meeting the recommended intake of 30g of fibre per day, prebiotic supplements can be a great help to reduce constipation and support regularity. They can be taken separately or combined with probiotics for added benefits.
    • Postbiotics: Postbiotic supplements provide the beneficial metabolites of a healthy microbiota. Postbiotic supplements, such as Y SKIN, deliver gut microbiota derived signalling molecules that protect the intestinal epithelial barrier function to prevent conditions like leaky gut. Postbiotics can be taken separately or combined with prebiotics, such as  Y GUT sensitive, and/or probiotics.
    • Glutamine: Glutamine is an amino acid that supports gut lining integrity and may help in maintaining a healthy gut barrier.
    • Zinc: Zinc is essential for gut health and maintaining gut barrier function.
    • Magnesium: Magnesium can support gut motility and regular bowel movements.

    Such supplements can help with specific men’s gut health needs. However, supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. They should complement a well-balanced eating plan and other gut health-promoting habits.

    key takeaways 

    The research exploring the significant disparities between men's and women's gut health is still in its early stages - we have a lot yet to learn. However, certain lifestyle trends, like stress and dietary choices, alongside crucial genetic variations, suggest that men might experience the effects of poor gut health differently than women.

    Paying attention to gut health through dietary choices, regular exercise, and stress management remains essential for promoting optimal digestive wellness in men, as well as women.


    Good gut health is the key to your overall health. Find out if Y GUT sensitive is right for you.