There are upwards of 70 million people with compromised gut health in the United States alone. This demographic may experience a range of symptoms, from an upset stomach to skin irritations and sleep disturbances. To experience improvements, it's important to restore balance within the gastrointestinal tract. Diet, exercise, and quality sleep can help. It doesn't hurt to bring in some reinforcements, either. Below, you'll find our list of the best supplements for gut health to help you get started.
What Are Gut Health Supplements?
The gut microbiome houses the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes residing in the intestines and plays an important role in providing protection against invading pathogens. It also helps regulate different physiological functions such as metabolism, development, and homeostasis of immunity and the nervous system.
An imbalance between healthy and unhealthy gut microbiota can undermine the way these systems function, leading to diseases and disorders throughout the body. Along with a well balanced diet, you can turn to dietary supplements that contain ingredients believed to foster a healthy gut microbiome.
These ingredients include prebiotic fiber, probiotic foods, digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, licorice root, aloe vera juice, glutamine, ginger root extract or powder, bentonite clay, Amalaki fruit powder, and more.
Keep reading to learn more about the best supplements for gut health.
12 Best Supplements to Improve Gut Health
Healthy gut flora can help you achieve weight loss, improved digestion, an enhanced immune system, better skin, and reduced risk against certain diseases. On the flip side, an unhealthy gut will likely lead to an upset stomach, could signal a chronic condition like IBS, or worse. To avoid side effects associated with an unhealthy gut, try to incorporate the following gut health supplements into your diet.
L-glutamine supports gut health function by sustaining the balance of the gut microbiome, increasing the expression of tight junction proteins and the integrity of the intestinal lining, and helping to minimize the inflammatory response in situations of gut mucosal irritation. It also happens to be the most abundant amino acid in the body.
The root of the licorice plant (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has a long history of use, going back to ancient Assyrian, Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian cultures, and was traditionally used to treat a variety of conditions such as lung, liver, circulatory, and kidney diseases.
Nowadays, licorice root extract can be used as a dietary supplement for conditions such as digestive problems, menopausal symptoms, cough, and bacterial and viral infections.
Studies show taking 75 mg licorice capsule twice daily helps with indigestion. It may also be helpful against heartburn, peptic ulcers, cancer, and diabetes. There's also evidence that licorice root extract is beneficial against gut bacteria-associated infectious complications in mice.
Collagen Protein Powder
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen peptides contain amino acid building blocks for healthy skin, bone, joint and connective tissue. Study shows collagen peptides help skin elasticity resulting in plump skin and reduced wrinkles. Collagen also contains glycine, glutamine, and proline which are beneficial to the stomach and the gut lining.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Wormwood is an herb best known for its aroma and flavor. It has many purported health benefits and is regarded as a useful remedy for problems related to the liver and gallbladder. Wormwood contains strong bitter agents known as absinthin and absinthian, which have anti-inflammatory properties and stimulate digestive and gallbladder function.
Wormwood contains a parasite-fighting compound called a-thujone and may help with leaky gut syndrome. It helps eliminate bad bacteria leaking through the intestinal lining. Wormwood is also high in antioxidants called chamazulene which can help strengthen gut cell tissue.
Peppermint is an aromatic herb of the mint family often found in a variety of forms including essential oil, extracts, and capsules. There is growing evidence that peppermint oil helps fight irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, and other digestive issues. It is also used against the common cold and headaches.
Peppermint oil or menthol, one of its main components, has also been used in combination with caraway to treat functional dyspepsia, a condition characterized by bloating and pain in the area of the stomach.
Bentonite is a clay generated frequently from the alteration of volcanic ash consisting predominantly of smectite minerals. Bentonite clay has been found to absorb toxins like pesticides, lead, and trace metals like copper. It has a broad range of actions on the body.
Though it is predominately used topically as a popular ingredient in skincare products, it may also be taken orally in small amounts. Doing so can help fight off bad bacteria and help the gut absorb more nutrients by increasing the flora in the intestine. It may also improve symptoms of IBS, leaky gut, and other digestive conditions.
While bone broth isn't a traditional dietary supplement available in capsules or powder, adding it to your diet can help you maintain a healthy digestion process. Bone broth also contains gelatin, collagen, glucosamine, and amino acids (like glycine) which aids in the repair of the gut lining. It is also believed to reduce inflammation and help maintain digestive tract health.
Chamomile is one of the oldest recorded members of the Asteraceae family and is known to have medicinal properties. Aside from calming properties that make chamomile well suited as a sleep aid, chamomile also has anti-inflammatory effects and has been known to help with digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and colic.
Ginger is a flowering plant originating in Southeast Asia and is often used for cooking, but it also contains powerful antioxidants used to treat nausea, particularly morning sickness.
According to research, ginger supplementation can modulate the composition of the gut microbiota which makes it effective for weight loss and protects against osteoarthritis, diabetes, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Psyllium is a soluble fiber used primarily as a gentle bulk-forming laxative, soaking up the water in your gut to create healthier bowel movements. Psyllium can help promote regularity without increasing flatulence. It is also a prebiotic, meaning it helps good gut bacteria grow. Because it softens the stool, it is often recommended to individuals suffering from constipation.
Marshmallow root can be purchased as powder or tea. It contains antioxidants that help heal the gut lining. Taking marshmallow root may be able to help protect the gut from gastric ulcers.
Some studies also suggest marshmallow root has the potential to help the body to flush out excess fluid. Marshmallow root also seems to help with a variety of digestive issues such as indigestion, heartburn, and intestinal colic.
However, while marshmallow root appears to be generally well-tolerated, it can at times cause upset stomach and dizziness. It is recommended that people supplementing in marshmallow root start with a low dose and gradually work their way up. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with diabetes, and people scheduled for surgery are also advised to avoid taking marshmallow root.
Inulin is also a prebiotic fiber which means it feeds good bacteria in the gut and improves digestive health. Inulin may even help improve heart health, colon cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease, though more research is needed in this area.
Gut health is essential for overall physical and mental wellness. Though it's not always easy to monitor, maintaining a healthy lifestyle supported by health supplements can help keep you in the clear.
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What is the best supplement to take for gut health?
Different supplements can be used to address different issues in the body. While some of the most popular supplements for gut health include L-Glutamine, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Ginger Root, it's important to address your personal health issues. Some supplements provide better support for nausea and discomfort while others are more suited for constipation.
What is the best probiotic that doctors recommend?
The rule of thumb in choosing the best probiotic is to choose probiotic products with at least one billion colony forming units and containing the genus Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, or Saccharomyces boulardii as these are some of the most widely-researched products. However, it's always important to dig deeper into each probiotic and the microorganism they contain as each genus of probiotic bacteria encompasses numerous strains that produce different results.