If you have been experiencing heartburn, diarrhea, gas, bloating, or constipation lately, it’s a sign that you have an unhealthy gut.
Gut health has a huge impact on the overall health of the body. Your gut works like a second brain. It is responsible for all kinds of things in your body, including promoting digestion and absorption of nutrients, helping regulate things like bile and vitamin levels, and supporting the immune system. That is why it's very important to know the core issues and ways to improve gut health. So what exactly is gut health? Are you referring to the general health of the gut when we talk about the health of our body?
What Is Gut Health & How to Improve It?
What is Gut Health?
The human gut is a complex structure, and there are several scientific opinions on what the definition of “gut health” should be. The term ‘Gut health’ is all about the balance of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. The human digestive system is filled with trillions of bacteria that not only help us process food but also help the body maintain homeostasis and overall well-being.
Changes in stomach acid, gut immunity, and gastrointestinal flora are the main culprits behind deteriorating gut health.
The key to a healthy gut lies in the gut microbiome: the composition of bacteria and other microorganisms in the stomach and intestines.
How to Improve Gut Health?
Each person’s microbiome is unique, but there is some general information about what’s healthy and what’s not. In healthy people, there is a wide range of organisms, while in an unhealthy individual, there is much less diversity, and there seems to be an increase in the bacteria we associate with disease. This occurs when the microbiome is out of balance for any reason, and your gut starts showing the above signs.
The imbalance often clears up in a short time, but if it becomes chronic, it may require diagnosis and medical attention. Your gut bacteria can influence your weight as well!
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help you maintain a healthy gut. You can also reduce the use of dairy products, red and processed meats, and refined sugars. Understanding of the best foods for gut health helps in this process. You can connect loose ends with natural gut health supplements. Right now, there are countless products that claim to help you get a healthy gut. The first among them is probiotics.
Taking Probiotics for Gut Health
First, what are probiotics? Probiotics are made from good live bacteria and yeasts that live naturally in your body. Good bacteria help eliminate bad bacteria and restore balance. The idea of bacteria being beneficial for gut health can be difficult to understand. Bacteria colonizing the wrong place can cause problems, but the same bacteria in the right place can be beneficial for you.
This is where probiotics come from. Probiotics can aid digestion and maintain gut health. Many commercial supplements claim to increase gut health and introduce good bacteria. But science is still concerned with the real benefits of probiotic pills and capsules. The evidence is strongest in people with specific medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and antibiotic-related diarrhea.
Many probiotic strains are not those that occur naturally in large quantities in the human gut. It’s your choice to eat them or drink them, but they don’t have to stay and colonize. Some digestive specialists recommend probiotic supplements for ailments that frustrate conventional medicine, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotic therapy can help treat various digestive tract diseases, vaginal and urinary tract infections in women and slow the development of allergies in children.
Northern Europeans consume many of these beneficial microorganisms, called probiotics, due to their tradition of consuming bacteria-fermented foods such as yogurt. Probiotic drinks are also a big store in Japan. Fermented foods are a natural source of probiotics. Regular consumption of foods such as fermented vegetables, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, miso, cabbage, and tempeh can improve gut health.
However, if you are sensitive to histamines, fermented foods are complex. In such cases, you can try probiotics supplements for a healthy gut. Keep in mind to choose from supplements that contain strains like Bacillus coagulans, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. Lactis or Lactobacillus plantarum.
Oh! Wait… we are missing out on something. Yes! Prebiotics.
Taking Prebiotics for Gut Health
Probiotics feed on indigestible carbohydrates called prebiotics. Consuming prebiotics helps reproduce the microbiota, which leads to larger colonies of good bacteria. This allows gut bacteria to produce nutrients for colon cells, leading to a healthier digestive system. There are some carbohydrates in the food that we cannot digest, which we call fiber.
There are many types of fiber in our food, and helpful bacteria like to swell on some of them. Some of these nutrients include short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate, acetate, and propionate. These fatty acids are taken up by blood vessels in the intestine and improve metabolic health. Prebiotics are found naturally in many foods, such as whole grains, legumes, tomatoes, bananas, onions, garlic, and Jerusalem artichokes.
You can also try a dietary supplement. You can easily find plant-based prebiotics on the market. Remember to take it slowly when trying to increase your prebiotic intake, as sudden changes in the number of fibrous foods you eat can cause bloating, pain, and other digestive symptoms.
Moving forward, if you are looking for more supplements for intestinal health, then why ignore vitamins and minerals?
Taking Vitamins and Minerals for Gut Health
Zinc is an essential part of many metabolic processes and is well known for its ability to strengthen the immune system. If you want to consume zinc in natural form to support your digestive system, then stick to muscle tissue. Zinc is found in beef, turkey, pork, and chicken.
In 2001, it was proven by various results that zinc supplementation helped strengthen the intestinal lining in patients with Crohn’s disease. Zinc is able to regulate tight joints in the intestinal lining, which helps reduce intestinal permeability as per the studies.
Magnesium has proven its worth for bone health, energy production and for regulating the digestive system and improving stomach acid levels that are present in the intestines. Even if you have moderate levels of this mineral in your body, you will want to eat high-content foods or take supplements to keep your levels higher. Foods that have higher levels of magnesium include almonds, spinach, soy milk, whole meal bread, oatmeal, beans, and bananas. One thing magnesium can do to improve gut health is to encourage the muscles along the digestive tract to relax. When this happens, the food in the gastrointestinal tract will start moving faster and at a more regular pace. You won’t experience the typical abdominal pain and discomfort that comes from having too much food in the gut.
Magnesium can also help balance stomach acid levels. This is great news for people who have problems with chronic acid reflux or GERD. It acts as a natural antacid and can slowly reduce the amount of stomach acid produced by your body if you have a constant level of this mineral in your body. Once the acid levels are under control, the inflammation and the number of damaged cells should begin to decrease. This can reduce your symptoms.
Lower vitamin D is associated with inflammatory bowel disease, and vitamin D supplements show significant promise in treating symptoms. There might be several reasons behind it, but one of them is the way vitamin D affects the intestinal flora. Add wild fatty fishes to your diet, especially salmon. Whitefish don’t count because they don’t have enough fat. This vitamin also has strong anti-inflammatory properties that help people with chronic bowel inflammation or inflammation of the entire system, such as people with IBS or perforated bowel syndrome.
Vitamin D can go to the source of inflammation and help neutralize it, and it can also help calm the nervous system reaction that is causing the inflammation. A good level of vitamin D in your body encourages it to produce defensins. Defensins are antimicrobial molecules. They are a key ingredient in maintaining a healthy and balanced level of bacteria in the gut. If you don’t have enough of this antimicrobial molecule in your system, you will end up with an imbalance between good and bad bacteria.
On the other hand, you may see increased discomfort, diarrhea, and poor nutrient absorption.
Other Natural Supplements for Gut Health
L-glutamine is an amino acid, building blocks of proteins. This is why it can strengthen wounds in the intestinal wall, and studies show that it can improve nutritional absorption. In 2015, a credible source showed that glutamine could improve the growth and survival of enterocytes or intestinal cells. It can also help in regulating the function of the intestinal barrier, even during times of stress.
In a recent study, researchers found that even a low dose of oral glutamine can improve the permeable bowel after strenuous exercise. You can find L-glutamine as a powder or supplement. It is also found in animal proteins such as beef, chicken, fish and eggs, leafy vegetables, and fermented foods.
Carnosine increases intestinal integrity - your stomach’s ability to maintain a strong intestinal lining. A compound composed of two linked amino acids, carnosine, classified as a dipeptide, is highly concentrated in muscle tissue and the brain. It is also present in significant concentrations in beef and fish and in lower concentrations in chicken. Carnosine stimulates the immune system to act against foreign attacks. It has strong antioxidant properties that allow it to protect cells from free radical damage. It also appears to reduce inflammation, the driving force behind many types of chronic disease.
Collagen forms structures throughout the body, including the digestive tract. The body can produce its own collagen naturally. But if you don’t eat a lot of organ meat and bone broth, you probably won’t be giving your body enough amino acid building blocks to make enough collagen protein. A collagen protein supplement will help us.
It has been proven by research that collagen peptides were able to prevent further breakdown of the intestinal lining. Using gelatin tannate, a naturally occurring collagen-containing supplement, demonstrated the anti-inflammatory properties of collagen in the gut. You can easily find collagen supplements on the market.
To improve gut health, you must first have a well-functioning intestinal lining, also known as a pleasant place for your gut flora to live.
Licorice root has beneficial effects on intestinal health when treated to remove glycyrrhizic acid, a substance found naturally in licorice root, which is believed to cause high blood pressure and low potassium levels. Licorice root contains nearly 75 bioactive compounds. This includes glycyrrhizin (GL), a compound known to have adverse effects on humans. DGL is a substance for which GL has been withdrawn for consumption.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that licorice root provided a reduction in pain and nausea, as well as faster healing in patients with ulcers. Licorice root can be found as a tea, powder, or supplement and is commonly combined with other functional ingredients to promote healthy digestion.
Curcumin is a plant-based blend that gives many known spices their bright yellow color, including turmeric. Curcumin itself has poor bioavailability, which means it is poorly absorbed by the body. However, according to recent studies, it was found that curcumin is absorbed and tends to concentrate in the gastrointestinal tract. Due to its strong anti-inflammatory effects, this may explain why curcumin benefits the mucous membrane of the digestive tract.
Berberine is another plant-based bioactive compound that can be useful against different gut problems, specifically leaky gut. This product is known to contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
Berberine has been used to treat inflammatory bowel disease in ancient times. In a recent study conducted on rats, researchers looked at the use of berberine supplementation with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. They found that berberine was able to relieve changes in intestinal mucus in these rats.
All diseases start within the intestine. Avoid taking antibiotics for conditions such as colds or sore throats. These diseases are usually caused by viral infections that do not respond to antibiotics anyway. Antibiotics can destroy bad and good bacteria in the gut.
Maintaining a healthy gut is more than taking any dietary supplement. Daily diet and exercise are equally important because many lifestyle factors affect gut bacteria.
When you tackle the wide selection of accessories now available, you can feel overwhelmed. You are not alone. The choice can be difficult. In the United States, probiotics are usually sold as food ingredients, medications, or dietary supplements. Even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the production of such supplements in different ways, most foods and supplements do not require pre-market approval.
However, gut health supplements can offer a wide range of benefits with different side effects. So, if you’re interested in improving your gut health, it might be worth a try. Make sure you speak to your doctor first to make sure you test for the right strains in the right amounts and avoid side effects.