Stomach pains, bloating, and the relentless discomfort after eating—sound familiar? These are common signs that your gut might be crying out for help. And with the modern lifestyle moving at a breakneck pace, it’s no surprise your diet may not always be gut-friendly.
“Even while eating a healthy diet, it’s possible that our bodies are not getting all of the nutrients that we need,” says Hilary Keiser, a biochemist and supplements expert at Viome, a company that analyzes your gut health using smart technology. So, here’s where gut health supplements step in.
They offer a helping hand to our digestive systems, but the big question is—do they work for everyone? Can they truly make a difference, or is it just wishful thinking?
The reality is, getting to know more about gut health supplements can help you decide if they’re the missing piece in your digestive wellness puzzle.
Do You Really Need Supplements to Heal Your Gut?
As you aim to boost your digestive health, adding supplements to your gut health diet might be a smart move. They’re a helpful tool for reaching that peak state of gut wellness.
And because your gut microbiome impacts everything from your mood to your mental clarity, tailoring supplements specifically to enhance your gut microbiome can be pivotal not only for gut health but also for the gut-brain connection.
Sure, eating well is the foundation of your health, but our fast-paced lives can make this challenging. We often deal with stress and eat foods exposed to toxins, which can lower the quality of nutrients we get.
This is where supplements can help. As Hilary explains, “Supplements can play a valuable role in providing additional support, particularly for individuals with specific dietary restrictions, health conditions, or those in recovery from antibiotic use.”
Remember: It’s always advisable to talk with a healthcare professional before starting supplements. It’s important to make sure they fit your personal health needs and don’t clash with any medicines you’re taking.
5 Best Supplements for Gut Health, According to Experts
As of 2000, the US Food and Drug Administration estimates that there are over 29,000 supplements for sale in the United States, with about 1,000 new ones coming on the market every year. So it’s no surprise that knowing which supplements to take may be overwhelming.
So which ones would help improve your gut health? Here are five of the best supplements for gut health, as Hilary suggests:
Probiotics are helpful living germs that, when consumed in the right amounts, significantly enhance the beneficial bacteria in your system. This creates a balance that puts a check on the harmful bacteria, effectively fighting off germs with protective substances such as bacteriocins and lactic acid.
Moreover, they play a crucial role in reducing inflammation within your digestive system. Additionally, these microscopic allies aid your body in producing enzymes, which leads to a more efficient breakdown of food and improves the absorption of nutrients.
For a natural boost of probiotics, you can turn to fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha, which are delicious and rich in these beneficial bacteria. If these aren’t to your taste or you’re looking for a more concentrated form, probiotic supplements are an excellent alternative to support your gut health.
Prebiotics are like fibers in foods that we can’t break down, but the good bacteria in our gut can. They eat these fibers, grow stronger, and work better.
According to Hilary, Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum (PHGG) is a great source of prebiotic fiber for people suffering from gut health issues. It’s less likely to produce gas and discomfort.
L-glutamine is a type of amino acid, a building block for your body. It helps keep the lining of your gut strong and sealed, which is super important because it controls what gets from your gut into your blood.
When these walls are tight, bad substances can’t sneak into your bloodstream. And this keeps you from getting something called “leaky gut.”
By doing this, L-glutamine helps your gut decide what should go into your blood (like nutrients) and what should not (like harmful substances).
4. Digestive enzymes
Digestive enzymes are like tiny helpers in your body that break down the food you eat. They’re special proteins that turn big pieces of food into smaller bits that your body can use easily. Each type of enzyme has a specific job.
- Amylase is the enzyme that cuts up carbohydrates into sugar, which your body can use for energy.
- Protease, which chops up proteins into amino acids, is the building block your body uses to make new proteins.
- Lipase is the one that breaks down fats into fatty acids and glycerol, which are important for energy and other body functions.
Together, these enzymes make sure your body gets all the good stuff from your food, turning what you eat into fuel and building materials for your body.
5. Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are some common supplements that many of us are aware of. The fact of the matter is, these essential nutrients are crucial for your gut microbiome, the collection of microbes in your digestive system.
Vitamins like A, B, and C are vital for maintaining your health and helping your body function at its best. And minerals like calcium, magnesium, and zinc can help keep your gut functioning properly.
While you can find them in food, taking them in supplement form when you’re deficient can give your gut the tools it needs for a strong defense and optimal performance.
What Are the Best Supplements for Gut Health and Weight Loss?
Eating the right foods for gut health can help shed the unwanted bulge. And implementing supplements can bolster your healthy eating efforts.
Here’s what Hilary suggests:
- Probiotics like B. animalis ssp. lactis B420 can help support weight loss. It has been shown to reduce waist circumference and food intake.
- Prebiotic fibers can have a bulking effect that promotes satiety, which is a feeling of fullness, and, as a result, helps with weight loss. For example, a specific fiber, inulin, has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. This means the body can regulate blood sugar levels more effectively, which can help reduce the risk of weight gain associated with insulin resistance.
- Green tea extract has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels and suppress appetite.
- Berberine has been shown to increase glucose uptake in cells, resulting in less sugar in the bloodstream, ultimately stored as fat.
So, as you pair these with balanced meals, you’re setting the stage for success in achieving your weight loss goals.
What Are Recommended Supplements for Gut Health and Inflammation?
Inflammation is a silent gut saboteur. However, the right gut health supplements can be your shield and sword:
- Probiotics, like Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, can help calm down inflammation in your body. They might also help ease tummy troubles, including gas and feeling bloated.
- Curcumin can help stop swelling in your body and make the walls of your gut stronger.
- Butyrate is a substance made by good bacteria in your gut and can also be found in supplements. It feeds the cells in your colon, keeps the walls of your gut healthy, and helps to reduce swelling inside your gut.
- Ginger has strong natural chemicals, like gingerols and shogaols, that help ease inflammation in your gut. Also, they help control how food moves through your stomach and intestines.
- Peppermint can soothe stomach pain by relaxing the muscles in your digestive system that can cause cramps. Plus, it’s full of good plant nutrients that help fight off stress on a cellular level, which can prevent swelling and damage inside your body.
These supplements not only fight inflammation but also work together to restore gut health, ensuring your digestive system is functioning at its optimum.
Frequently Asked Questions
When it comes to optimizing gut health, questions are bound to arise. With the help of Hilary, let’s get to the bottom of some common inquiries.
1. What are the benefits of gut health supplements?
There are many benefits to taking supplements for your gut health. But, as Hilary points out, the exact outcome will vary based on the person and the supplements selected.
With that being said, there are benefits that you may experience when you take gut health supplements. Here’s how it can help:
- Boost the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- Enhance digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Reduce symptoms of digestive disorders like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
- Help manage weight by promoting a feeling of fullness.
- Support the immune system.
- Improve the gut-brain connection, potentially benefiting mood and cognitive function.
- Decrease inflammation in the digestive tract.
- Contribute to restoring gut health after antibiotic use or illness.
- Increase energy levels by improving gut efficiency.
- Help in maintaining the integrity of the gut lining and preventing leaky gut syndrome.
2. How do I choose the right gut health supplement for me?
When you pick up a gut health supplement from your local drug store, here’s what you should keep in mind: It’s made to help with certain health problems or goals using standardized ingredients that work for a broad audience or a particular condition.
The thing is, though, it may not necessarily address your unique underlying issues.
“Even though two people may both experience symptoms like gas and bloating, the root causes could be entirely different,” Hilary explains. So in this instance, the best supplements for gut health and bloating lie in “understanding the specific nuances of your gut microbiome.”
That’s why, at Viome, you can take a test to check how your genes are working and receive a comprehensive report on the strengths and areas for improvement in your gut microbiome. Then, Viome tailors its recommendations to support the areas that need enhancement, taking into account your current medications, allergies, and any co-existing health conditions you may have.
3. What are the side effects of gut health supplements?
Anything you put in your body can have side effects, and these may vary from person to person.
Supplements can interact with prescription medications and with co-existing health conditions, and at worst, they may make your condition worse if you don’t choose the right ones. And, according to Hilary, not understanding your gut microbiome activity and pairing it with the right supplements for your biology can also have unintended consequences.
Let’s take inulin as an example. This popular prebiotic fiber supplement helps feed good bacteria in the gut to produce beneficial metabolites.
However, it also has the potential to increase methane gas production in some digestive tracts. What’s more, if your gut microbiome has an imbalance in this bacteria or is over-expressing methane gas-producing pathways, taking inulin could make gas and bloating symptoms worse.
Make a Change, Create an Impact
Taking steps to enhance your gut health is a commitment to your future self. As Hilary says, “If you want to thrive and not just survive, taking supplements is necessary for your optimal health.”
If you’re inspired to improve your own health as well as empower others, the Mindvalley Viome Certified Nutrition Coach program could be your next big leap.
With wisdom from Naveen Jain, the founder of Viome, and the team, this program will dive deep into detoxification, balanced eating, and immune support for enduring health. The great thing is, it goes beyond personal health; it equips you to be a beacon of guidance for others striving for better health.
And when you, yourself, step into your greatness, you inspire greatness in those around you. Welcome in.
Images generated on Midjourney.