5 Supplements to Promote Gut Health
What if I told you that your gut and brain were connected? Would you call me crazy? I probably would too.
I’m not joking though. More and more research is coming out that is showing how intricately connected the two are. So much that your mental health and cognition depend on how good your gut health is.
When I first heard about this, I it was just another health craze.
I’ve taken the time to do the research and I can tell you that this is all true. It is pretty important as well. If you are trying to improve your overall health you have stumbled onto the right article.
This article will give you a brief overview of the supplements you can use to begin healing your gut.
What’s Wrong With My Gut?
Right now you must probably be thinking that there’s nothing wrong with your gut. Sure spicy food might get to you sometimes but overall you think there’s nothing wrong.
You’re probably right, but you can do better.
The typical modern diet is full of junky processed foods and sugar. I’m sure you know that by now and are tired of hearing about it so I won’t go on about it. What you might not have known is that all of this junk is taking a toll on your health, specifically your gut.
These foods are all pretty damaging to your microbiome.
See, your gut is composed of over 100 trillion different bacteria all of which make up your microbiome. All that bacteria is responsible for different functions including metabolism, immune function and mood regulation.
What Does the Science Say?
Recently the studies on the human gut microbiome have increased. The information we have on this topic is growing rapidly. Many people now call your gut the “Second Brain”.
They are so connected that one study even found that gut health and certain bacteria can be linked to the onset of Parkinsons disease.
This is a pretty extreme example but many different studies have shown that gut health can have an effect on anxiety, depression and gene expression in the brain. Here are just a few of the results:
- Two different types of bacteria have been found to increase production of the neurotransmitter GABA. This neurotransmitter has been implicated as reducing stress and anxiety leves. Study
- High proportions of autistic children suffer from gastrointestinal issues and a study found a reduced incidence of different types of fermenting bacteria in autistic children. Study
- Different types of intestinal bacteria given to participants was shown to increase plasma tryptophan levels which would lead to increased activity of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This suggests a mood regulation effect. Study
This is just a brief list but I believe this shows that making sure your diet and your gut are healthy is even more important.
Ways to improve gut health
Supplements aren’t the solution to everything, I’ll be the first to admit that. In addition to having a healthy diet and lots of fermented foods, supplements can be a great aid to improve digestive health and speed up the recovery process. That being said here are 5 good supplements to improve digestive health.
I have written about these before in the supplement guide but healing gut health is their main function so I had to bring it back up again. The purpose of a probiotic is to deliver live cultures of good bacteria directly to your gut.
As I mentioned before there are over 1 trillion bacteria in your gut and it is crucial that you have the right ones. By delivering a high amount of good bacteria to your gut with a probiotic you are more likely to develop a higher concentration of the strains included in the probiotic.
When looking at different types of probiotics it is important to look at both the CFU (colony forming units) as well as the diversity of the bacteria included. When looking on the label any of the following families of bacteria are good to have:
Of course there are tons of different types of bacteria but the ones from the list above tend to have the most immediate and measurable benefit when delivered as a probiotic.
In terms of supplements recommended I have included three choices based on the current shape of your gut health. If you have any type of gastrointestinal issue you might want to skip right to the third option which is the strongest and will provide the best relief for such conditions.
L-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in your body and it is produced in the muscles. You might have already heard of it actually. Many bodybuilders take it due to the fact that it was shown to prevent the breakdown of muscle fibers and can also aid in recovery.
It made this list because of its ability to help heal the gut. Specifically it has been shown heal the intestinal lining and mucosa that might have worn out over time from different types of food or drink that cause damage.
When the lining is weakened the permeability increases. This permeability is what is responsible for a number of conditions such as IBS and other gastrointestinal issues. One study found that L-Glutamine plays an essential role in maintaining mucosal integrity and protecting intestinal epithelial tight junctions.
I have to admit that I had never heard of this supplement before going to write this article. However, after reading a good amount of the literature on this supplement I believe it deserves a spot on the list.
NAG stands for N-Acetly Glucosamine and is taken to improve joint health. NAG is a precursor for hyaluronic acid which happens to be part of a complex system which lubricates your joints and keeps them healthy.
However another function that NAG also helps with is your gut. Like Glutamine, NAG plays a big role in healing the intestinal membrane and mucosa. One study gave 12 children with severe inflammatory bowel disease NAG as a daily supplement and found that it showed promised as an inexpensive treatment for such issues. Several of the children went into remission for their condition and many others experienced clear improvement.
Fun fact: Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body because it is found in skin, muscle, bones and even blood vessels. Many are not aware that this protein is everywhere. Besides being the most common protein in your body it is also found in a handful of skin lotions and moisturizers because it helps replace dead skin cells.
So what can it do for your gut? Again, like the previous two supplements on this list, it plays a role in sealing up that intestinal lining I keep mentioning. I can’t emphasize enough how crucial this is.
A few different studies have found that patients with IBS or other gastrointestinal issues have lower serum concentrations of collagen. This is because the amino acids present in collagen are crucial for building the tissue and mucosa that line the gut.
Now, you always hear about how important it is to have a lot of fiber in your diet but most people never told you why. It is important to eat lots of fiber because it is not something your body can digest but something that the bacteria in your gut will feed on.
Getting enough fiber when taking a probiotic is the best way to make sure the probiotic works. By giving the bacteria in the probiotic something to eat and grow, there is a higher chance that bacteria will survive and grow.
This one is last because because it is pretty easy to get lots of fiber in your diet regularly. I’ve just included it because it is very helpful for those that have moderate to severe gut problems.
Conclusion on Supplements That Improve Gut Health
I hope you enjoyed this list of supplements to improve your gut health. This is by no means a complete list but is a good start for most. It is important to note that these supplements aren’t a substitution for a healthy diet.
For those looking for a wider range of treatment options besides the ones mentioned here please look into fermented foods. Foods like kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and more are all great foods to develop a healthy gut and body. These supplements will help you develop the baseline. It is up to you to exchange unhealthy habits with healthy ones going forward.
As always thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments please let me know below. You can find me on twitter @nosocmedia.