Gut Health 101: Try or Pass?
We now know that a healthy gut is the key foundation to a healthy mind and body. However, with social trends promoting gut supplements and foods, it can be hard to establish what is actually worth buying.
Not sure where to begin? Read more to discover our expert advice on gut health and supplements.
Probiotics are live bacteria strains that are designed to support your gut by adding more to your ‘good bacteria’. There are hundreds of strains, or types, that exist on the market. From bifidobacterium and lactobacillus, each strain promotes certain health functions and benefits.
Try or Pass: Try
There is some evidence to support probiotics and overall gut health, including reduced bloating and diarrhea. If you have recently taken medication, antibiotics or had a period of stress, it can be beneficial to take a good quality probiotic that features multi-strains, featuring Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Streptococcus. Take probiotics for a period of two months and assess improvements. If you have not experienced any improvements, they probably didn’t work for you.
Peppermint is a herb that has been shown to relieve stomach cramps, bloating and supporting bowel movements. Peppermint preparations can be found in capsules, oil formats and as tea.
Try or Pass: Try
If you suffer from IBS or bloating, it can be really beneficial to give peppermint a go. There is good evidence to suggest its benefits on reducing symptoms of IBS, as peppermint acts as an antispasmodic (reduces muscle cramps and spasms). It is best to try peppermint on an empty stomach. Take it daily for up to two weeks and monitor symptoms. If you have sensitive digestion, you may want to try a smaller dosage every few days.
L-glutamine is an amino acid that supports muscle repair. Although athletes commonly take glutamine to support muscle function, there is only some evidence supporting its role on gut health.
L-glutamine is said to help as a temporary remedy to aid gut repair after infection or antibiotics. It can help protect and build gut walls and support gut bacteria.
Try or Pass: Pass
Although some emerging evidence supports the use of L-glutamine on gut health, it is mostly only based on temporary durations. If you have experienced stress or infection, you may benefit from taking L-glutamine for a short period of time. Otherwise, it may not be worthwhile to add L-glutamine to your supplement routine.
Sea Moss is a sea vegetable that is commonly used as a thickening ingredient, or increasingly taken as a supplement. The most common sea moss is called Irish sea moss, and grows on rocky, Atlantic coasts. Sea moss naturally contains vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Try or Pass: Pass
Although seamoss can be a very rich nutritional source, there is not much evidence linking sea moss to gut health or any particular benefit. One of the other downsides of sea moss is that most types can vary in nutritional value, meaning you can never tell what nutrients you are gaining from taking it. Sea moss is also quite high in iodine, which can increase the risk of taking too much iodine into your diet. There is also a risk of heavy metal contamination.
Although there are a variety of supplements that show promise for gut health, we must establish that supplements are designed to support a healthy diet. They are not a cure or a replacement, but can aid some symptoms of gut discomfort. Also, we must remember that we are all different – what may work for you, may not work for others.