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Unraveling the Best Supplements for Gut Health: A Naturopathic and Functional Medicine Perspective

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on July 11, 2023

The health of our gut has a profound impact on our overall wellness, affecting everything from our immune system to our mood. A key aspect of maintaining optimal gut health involves the right nutritional support, often in the form of dietary supplements. This post will explore the best supplements for gut health from a naturopathic and functional medicine perspective.

Probiotics

Leading the pack are probiotics, beneficial bacteria that support a healthy gut microbiome. They aid digestion, fight harmful bacteria, and boost immune function. Different strains offer varying benefits, so a broad-spectrum probiotic supplement can be a good choice. Look for ones with a high colony count and diverse strains like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. (1)

Digestive Enzymes

Our bodies naturally produce enzymes to break down food, but factors like stress and aging can diminish this capacity. Supplementing with digestive enzymes can help your body effectively break down and absorb nutrients, reducing symptoms like bloating, gas, and indigestion. (2)

L-Glutamine

This essential amino acid supports the lining of your gut, reducing permeability and inflammation, conditions that can lead to what's often called "leaky gut". L-Glutamine acts as a fuel source for cells in the gut lining, promoting repair and growth. (3)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

These potent anti-inflammatory compounds help maintain the integrity of the gut lining, reducing inflammation and promoting healing. Sources of omega-3s include fish oil and algae supplements. (4)

Fiber

Fiber plays a crucial role in gut health by feeding beneficial gut bacteria and promoting regular bowel movements. Inulin, psyllium, and flaxseed are good fiber supplements. (5)

Turmeric

The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, helping to soothe the gut and protect the gut lining. (6)

While this list covers some of the best supplements for gut health, it's important to remember that everyone's needs are unique. Therefore, what works best will vary from person to person. It's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional, ideally a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner, before beginning any new supplement regimen. They can offer personalized advice based on your health history and current needs.

Remember, your gut health is a cornerstone of your overall wellness. By incorporating the right supplements and working with a knowledgeable healthcare provider, you can make strides in supporting a healthy gut and, in turn, your overall well-being.

Resources:

  1. Scarpellini E, Basilico M, Rinninella E, Carbone F, Schol J, Rasetti C, Abenavoli L, Santori P. Probiotics and gut health. Minerva Gastroenterol (Torino). 2021 Dec;67(4):314-325. doi: 10.23736/S2724-5985.21.02910-7. Epub 2021 May 12. PMID: 33978391.
  2. Ianiro G, Pecere S, Giorgio V, Gasbarrini A, Cammarota G. Digestive Enzyme Supplementation in Gastrointestinal Diseases. Curr Drug Metab. 2016;17(2):187-93. doi: 10.2174/138920021702160114150137. PMID: 26806042; PMCID: PMC4923703.
  3. Perna S, Alalwan TA, Alaali Z, Alnashaba T, Gasparri C, Infantino V, Hammad L, Riva A, Petrangolini G, Allegrini P, Rondanelli M. The Role of Glutamine in the Complex Interaction between Gut Microbiota and Health: A Narrative Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Oct 22;20(20):5232. doi: 10.3390/ijms20205232. PMID: 31652531; PMCID: PMC6834172.
  4. Costantini L, Molinari R, Farinon B, Merendino N. Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on the Gut Microbiota. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Dec 7;18(12):2645. doi: 10.3390/ijms18122645. PMID: 29215589; PMCID: PMC5751248.
  5. Makki K, Deehan EC, Walter J, Bäckhed F. The Impact of Dietary Fiber on Gut Microbiota in Host Health and Disease. Cell Host Microbe. 2018 Jun 13;23(6):705-715. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2018.05.012. PMID: 29902436.
  6. Scazzocchio B, Minghetti L, D'Archivio M. Interaction between Gut Microbiota and Curcumin: A New Key of Understanding for the Health Effects of Curcumin. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 19;12(9):2499. doi: 10.3390/nu12092499. PMID: 32824993; PMCID: PMC7551052.

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