Best Supplements for Gut Health, According to Experts
Your gut is responsible for carrying out a lot of key functions in your body, from breaking down the food you eat to absorbing nutrients that help with hormone balance and skin health.
It goes without mention that taking care of your gut is of utmost importance, which can primarily be done through diet choices and regular exercise. However, if you think you may be in need of a little extra support, there are some supplements that could benefit you.
But first, let's talk about how to go about choosing the right supplement.
Are there any risks to taking supplements?
Mary Albus, RD for the personalized protein powder company, Gainful, says that many supplements use ingredients that are generally recognized as safe and are fine for healthy individuals to use. However, the types of supplements people should be taking vary from person to person.
"Some supplements may contain common allergens such as whey, soy, and gluten," she says. "If you have any food allergies, be sure to check the supplement label carefully. Additionally, some supplements contain caffeine, occasionally in high doses. Most people can tolerate a safe amount of caffeine regularly, but others may need to avoid caffeine for certain reasons."
Examining the quality of the supplement is also a key factor to take into consideration. Matt Mazzino, who's also an RD at Gainful, explains how you can do the research yourself before purchasing.
"Look for supplements from a brand that has a good reputation, as typically, reviews and customer feedback will speak for itself," he says. "You can look for specific manufacturing guidelines that the product follows, such as complying with cGMP and having certificates of analysis (COA)."
He adds that some supplements are third-party tested, which just indicates that an external company has verified the ingredients and nutrition labels. Additionally, you can go on the company's website and see if the supplements (and their contents) are backed by scientific research.
Of course, you should always check in with your doctor before taking any new supplements.
Now, what are some of the best supplements for gut health?
The answer? Probiotics of course! Regularly taking a probiotic supplement can help people with chronic constipation, diarrhea, poor eating habits, poor sleeping habits, and recurrent ailments, says neurologist Illene Ruhoy, MD, PhD, and founder of the Center for Healing Neurology.
All of the above can cause inflammation in the gut microbiome, which can then increase your risk of anxiety, feelings of sadness, and even fatigue. However, taking a probiotic can help restore the balance of good gut bacteria and may even reduce inflammation.
"A high-quality probiotic should contain live strains of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Bacillus. Jetson Probiotics are an example of a good brand, because not only are their strains clinically validated and fresh but their particular strains are rotated to better meet health needs," says Ruhoy, who works with the brand.
Another supplement that can help reduce inflammation is a fish oil supplement that provides ample amounts of DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid), says Albus.
"I rely on this during weeks where my fish intake is not adequate—when I am consuming less than two, 3.5-ounce servings of fish," she adds.
For more on probiotics, be sure to check out One Surprising Effect of Taking Probiotics, Says New Study.