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supplements for healthy gut: tea hand stomach

The Right Type Of Gut Health Supplement For Every Goal

If you’re interested in having boundless energy, getting fit, enhancing your focus, sleeping well, and feeling good, it all starts in one place: your gut. 

Sounds strange, I know—but your gut is like the command center of your body, calling the shots and keeping everything in check. Though we call it the digestive tract, there’s so much more to it than just digestion; your gut plays a starring role in practically every aspect of your health and well-being. Think of it as the ultimate multitasker, juggling everything from immune function to mood regulation.

Of course, digestion is an important piece of the picture. Your gut is where the magic happens, breaking down your food into nutrients your body can absorb and use for energy. But here’s the kicker: A healthy gut isn’t just about what you eat; it also houses trillions of bacteria. These gut bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiome, play a crucial role in digestion, nutrient absorption, and even immune function.

And the gut’s influence doesn’t stop there. Research has shown that the gut-brain connection is a two-way street, with your gut health directly impacting your mood, focus, and even sleep. That’s partly because your gut produces about 90 percent of your body’s serotonin (a.k.a. the feel-good hormone). So, if you’re feeling down in the dumps or struggling to stay focused, it might be time to give your gut some love.

Let’s not forget about sleep, either. Your gut is like the conductor of the sleep train, helping to regulate your body’s internal clock and promote a restful slumber. Studies have shown that disruptions in gut health can lead to sleep disturbances, while a healthy gut microbiome is associated with better sleep quality and duration.

There are a few things your gut needs in order to function at its best—and thus help your entire body and mind thrive. Here are a few all-star supplements I recommend keeping handy to support your gut through chronic struggles and acute offenders alike.

To Quickly Cool Off An Angry System: Aloe Vera Gel

Research suggests that aloe vera gel can quickly calm an unhappy digestive tract, making it a low-risk, soothing option for those with conditions marked by an irritable or inflamed gut. 

Tip: Make sure to check the ingredients for “aloe gel” (sometimes also called “inner filet”) and avoid anything labeled “whole leaf,” which contains natural latex that can be irritating to the gut. Daily aloe vera gel is safe for most people to use periodically for up to three to four weeks at a time, but consult with your healthcare provider if you’re considering it for long-term use or have severe gut symptoms. 

For All-Around Easier Digestion: DGL

Next on the menu is DGL, or deglycyrrhizinated licorice. Don’t let the fancy name scare you; DGL is simply licorice that has had one element—glycyrrhizic acid—removed to make it safer for long-term use. It is gold for gut health.

DGL promotes a healthy stomach lining and can even soothe heartburn symptoms. A 2022 study found that DGL protects and heals the digestive tract lining from damage caused by foods, infections, and other stressors. This makes it a valuable healing resource for those dealing with reflux, gastritis, or other stomach issues. 

Read More: Your Skin Issues Could Be Starting In Your Gut

DGL can play an important daily role in the recovery from ulcers or heartburn as an adjunct therapy, but always make sure to get evaluated by a healthcare practitioner if your symptoms aren’t improving.

Tip: Make sure that you’re getting DGL and not just plain licorice. DGL is safe to take daily for prolonged periods, whereas too much whole licorice can disrupt potassium levels, leading to muscle cramping, fatigue, and even high blood pressure if you take too much for too long. Even overeating black licorice in the form of candy (if it contains real licorice) can cause this condition, known as pseudohypoaldosteronism.

To Strengthen A ‘Leaky’ Gut Lining: Glutamine

Glutamine for gut health? Oh yeah. Sometimes found in the sports nutrition section of supplement stores, this amino acid is like a knight in shining armor for your gut lining. It helps repair and rebuild those precious gut cells, keeping your digestive system strong and resilient.

Studies have shown that glutamine supplementation can help improve intestinal barrier function, promote tissue repair in the gut, and soothe an irritated gut, making it a key player in maintaining gut integrity and even supporting a healthy weight. So, load up on those glutamine-rich foods like chicken, fish, and leafy greens—or grab a glutamine supplement to give your gut the TLC it deserves.

The usual recommended dosage begins at five grams three times daily and can be increased up to a maximum of 45 grams per day. This approach can be helpful for abdominal bloating or discomfort, constipation, or diarrhea. Always follow up with your healthcare provider if you’re not noticing an improvement in your symptoms.

To Rebalance Those Gut Bugs: Probiotics

Now, let’s talk about probiotics. These diverse microbes are the rockstars of the gut world, bringing balance and harmony to your digestive system. Numerous studies, including a meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients, have shown the beneficial effects of probiotics on gut health. Probiotics have been found to help restore the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, improve digestion, enhance immunity, and even boost your mood. In fact, a whole category of probiotics has been named “psychobiotics” for this very reason! 

If you’ve just had a round of antibiotics, came down with a stomach bug, or are struggling with any chronic digestive troubles, probiotics are always worth trying to replenish this beneficial community of bacteria in your gut. There are plenty of easy and delicious ways to get your probiotic fix and keep your gut microbiome thriving—whether eating a daily serving of unsweetened yogurt, munching on a tablespoon of kimchi or sauerkraut, or taking supplements.

Read More: How To Support Your Gut While Taking Antibiotics

A good goal for a probiotic dose is 10-20 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day for most adults. There are a number of good probiotic supplements, including some excellent soil-based strains. Rotating products can offer more opportunities for the diversity of microbes, which is the ultimate goal for a healthy gut!

To Get Things Moving: Fiber

Last but not least, let’s give a shoutout to fiber. This unsung hero is essential for gut health, keeping your system moving smoothly and preventing constipation. Fiber also acts as food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut, helping them thrive and flourish. Research published in the journal Gut Microbes highlights the importance of dietary fiber in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Load up on fiber-rich fruits and veggies, and even legumes, every day to keep your gut happy and your digestion on point.

The goal is to get 25 grams per day of fiber or more, but many people consume 15 grams or less. If you add a fiber supplement to the mix to bridge that gap, start low and increase slowly. An insoluble fiber supplement like psyllium husk is non-fermentable and less likely to cause bloating or gas.

The Takeaway

Whether you’re looking to boost your mood, sharpen your focus, or catch some Zzz’s, taking care of your gut is key. Eating a balanced diet rich in gut-friendly foods is, of course, a must-do. From there, certain supplements—like probiotics and glutamine—can support your system through all sorts of trouble and help you level up your gut health, so you can experience the magic a happy gut works on every aspect of your health and well-being.

Dr. Maya Shetreat MD headshot

Dr. Shetreat is a neurologist, herbologist, and author of 
The Dirt Cure, in which she presents a nutritional plan for getting and keeping children healthy. She works and studies with indigenous communities and healers from around the world, and is the founder of the Terrain Institute, where she teaches earth-based programs for transformational healing.

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