More and more people are putting themselves first gut health.
Whether it’s to relieve unpleasant bloating and gas pains, promote regularity, or simply build a strong gut microbiome, the foods we eat are important for our digestive health and, in turn, our overall health. are increasingly recognized to have an impact on human health.
Unsurprisingly, supplements claiming to enhance gut health are proliferating on social media and online.
teeth intestinal health supplements The key to improving your digestive health? Here’s what you need to know.
First of all, what does “gut health” mean?
Gut health is a term that is often used but little understood. Although widely accepted among bloggers and social media influencers, there is still no agreed upon scientific definition.
Many experts define gut health by the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms (such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation) or diseases (such as inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer).
Gut health can also refer to a greater diversity of microbial species in your gut microbiome, the community of trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your large intestine.
A diverse microbiome helps ward off disease-causing bacteria and viruses. And it is thought to protect against asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and more.
The gut microbiome also interacts with the immune system, thereby helping to regulate inflammation in the body.
Do intestinal supplements live up to their hype?
Some supplements have enough evidence to support their gut health claims, while others don’t.
For example, L-glutamine supplements are touted as effective in “repairing the intestinal lining,” “strengthening the intestinal wall,” and treating “leaky gut,” despite limited evidence. (Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, occurs when the lining of the intestines becomes more permeable than normal, allowing toxins to enter the bloodstream.)
Glutamine, an amino acid produced by skeletal muscle and supplied by the diet, provides energy to the cells lining the intestinal tract, thereby helping to build a strong intestinal barrier.
There are only two small studies supporting a possible role for glutamine in IBS. In 44 patients, daily glutamine supplementation (15g) for 6 weeks in combination with a low FODMAP diet led to greater improvements in IBS severity symptom scores than diet alone. (A low-FODMAP diet alone has been shown to be beneficial.)
Preliminary research also suggests that taking glutamine (15 g daily) can help reduce symptoms of IBS, which are primarily post-infectious diarrhea. Larger trials are needed to validate these findings.
A 2021 review of seven clinical trials concluded that glutamine supplementation does not improve symptoms of Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease.
Collagen is a protein that forms the connective tissue of skin, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and has been called the “digestive superfood.”
collagen supplements It is touted to strengthen the intestinal lining, improve leaky gut, aid digestion, and relieve IBS symptoms. Bone broth, a source of collagen, is also promoted for gut health.
We found only one published study conducted on humans. Of the 14 healthy women who took 20 g of collagen peptides for 6 weeks, most reported relief from mild digestive symptoms such as bloating. There was no control group for comparison. There are few rigorous studies.
Meanwhile, probiotic supplements have been the focus of much research.
Randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that certain probiotic bacterial strains can improve ulcerative colitis, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and traveler’s diarrhea.
However, this does not mean that you should take it once a day. probiotic supplements For people without gastrointestinal disorders, it is a shortcut to a healthy intestine.
Studies conducted on healthy people show that taking probiotic supplements increases the amount of healthy bacteria in your gut, which may or may not be a good thing. there is.
Intensive intake of some probiotic strains can disrupt the balance of gut microbes. Not only may you be crowding out some of the bad microbes, but some of the beneficial microbes as well.
Probiotic supplements can have different effects on different people depending on their unique gut microbiome.
Research also suggests that taking probiotic supplements after antibiotic treatment slows the restoration of normal bacteria in the gut.
A small study shows that prebiotic supplements, fiber that feeds good gut bacteria, can help treat constipation, regulate intestinal inflammation, and beneficially change the composition of the gut microbiome. It has been.
Still, it’s best to feed your gut bacteria with fiber-rich whole foods rather than refined prebiotic supplements. Prebiotic supplements can worsen bloating and gas in some IBS patients.
How to promote a healthy gut
Despite what you see on TikTok, there’s no easy cure for a healthy gut, or a flat stomach for that matter.
However, there is evidence of a healthy lifestyle that benefits gut health. regular exerciseThese include getting proper sleep, managing stress, and limiting alcohol intake.
The same goes for healthy eating. Diet is considered to be the most powerful tool capable of changing the composition and activity of the gut microbiota.
A diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils provides prebiotic fiber, polyphenols, and other compounds that feed healthy gut bacteria. fermented food Those containing probiotic bacteria are also thought to benefit gut health.
when to consult a doctor
Continuing gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea or abdominal pain, may indicate a health problem that requires medical attention.
Please consult your doctor before trying any supplements.
Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based dietitian in private practice, is Medcan’s Director of Food and Nutrition. Follow her on X @LeslieBeck