We know that keeping the gut healthy is crucial for the optimal well-being of the entire body, brain, and mind, including emotional well-being. On the other hand, if you’re experiencing issues with digestion, chronic stress, or a poorly functioning immune system, you’re probably a great candidate for improving the health of your gut. The good news is, high-quality nutritional supplements can help heal the gut—both by increasing those good bugs (through probiotics) and by providing food for the good bugs, which is where prebiotics contribute.High-quality nutritional supplements can help heal the gut—both by increasing good gut bugs (through probiotics) and by providing food for the good bugs. Click To Tweet
WHAT HARMS GUT HEALTH
Good gut health requires maintaining the proper balance of healthy microorganisms—a level of approximately 85% good gut bacteria to 15% bad bacteria is generally recommended. But gut flora composition can be easily thrown out of whack by many factors, including:
- Taking antibiotics
- Consuming artificial sweeteners
- Eating a high-acidity diet
- Eating a poor diet
- Normal age-related changes in the digestive system
If any of these apply to you, you might benefit from nutritional supplements to support gut health.
SUPPLEMENTS TO HELP WITH GUT HEALTH
Here are some nutrients to keep in mind for optimizing your gut health:
- Zinc helps tighten the junctions in the lining of the gut and boosts digestive enzymes. So many people’s bodies are not breaking down food properly, which is a bigger problem when you’re not eating the correct foods—such as a highly processed diet or inflammatory foods like dairy. That’s why digestive enzymes are important: They help you absorb more nutrients from your diet.
- Omega-3 fatty acids offer a one-two punch for better gut health: They help to decrease inflammation and improve the permeability of the gut lining. They are found in fish oil supplements, for example, because the human body doesn’t naturally create them. But they’re called essential fatty acids for a reason—in addition to their benefits in the gut, they assist with brain function (including protecting against Alzheimer’s) and help prevent heart disease. Even better, high-quality omega-3 fatty acids are available in both fish oil and vegan formulas, such as those offered at BrainMD.
- Vitamin D is also anti-inflammatory and helps the body absorb nutrients like calcium, which promotes better bone health. It’s great for boosting the health of your cells, muscles, and immune system, and research has shown a lack of this vitamin may be associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Though sun exposure can help the body create vitamin D, overexposure obviously has its own dangers, so a supplement is a great solution without side effects.
- Berberine, which has been studied for its impact on type 2 diabetes and used to treat gastrointestinal infections in China, offers anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal effects. Its multiple benefits have led scientists to explore its potential role in treating a range of health issues, including metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and even cancer.
- Probiotic supplements stimulate an immune response, which distributes protective immune cells throughout the body. In addition to supplements, certain foods can also help—think fermented veggies like sauerkraut and kimchi, or (in small amounts) Greek or goat’s milk yogurt. But the best part about supplements, such as those from BrainMD, is that they provide much higher numbers of good bacteria than you find in foods—most commonly, microorganisms such as bifidobacterium, S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, and L. casei.
In fact, probiotics are one of my favorite categories of supplements. It’s impossible to underestimate the impact that our gut health has on our total health, and I know people who have changed their lives simply by taking probiotics. That’s not so surprising, though, when you think of how digestive ailments like chronic diarrhea and irritable bowel disease can severely impact the overall quality of life, from disrupting daily activities to creating poor-quality sleep. Just keep in mind that your body might take a few days or a week to adjust to these supplements, so you might have to wait for initial side effects like bloating to pass.
CHOOSE YOUR SUPPLEMENTS CAREFULLY
When you’re in the market for nutraceuticals, look for high-quality products and remember that even though they’re associated with fewer side effects than prescription or over-the-counter drugs, supplements can still be powerful. Here are some tips on how to make sure you get the maximum benefits from your supplements.
- Get the right supplements for you: Every person is unique and has individual needs when it comes to nutritional supplements. A supplement that works well for one person might not be effective for another. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right supplements for you.
- Do your homework. Read the labels and understand the proper dosage you should be taking. Also, keep in mind that quality will vary according to the manufacturer, so make sure you’re buying from a reputable source.
- Don’t skimp on cost. Supplements are not necessarily inexpensive—and if they are dirt cheap, that’s probably a red flag! But think about what you will pay—in wasted time, discomfort, and medical bills—for illness down the line when you’re not proactively taking care of your body. I’ve been there, and I’d rather spend my efforts up-front versus later on. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
- Look for the science. Look for products that are backed by solid evidence. Double-check claims with references that are reputable and based in scientific research.
- Avoid potential allergens and toxins. Choose supplements that are free of gluten, wheat, eggs, sugars, and artificial dyes or flavors. In addition, check the labels for common toxins, such as dioxin, and steer clear of those products.
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