Greek physician and “father of medicine” Hippocrates said it best: “All disease begins in the gut.”
While this might not literally be true, the saying definitely has its basis in facts. Your gut is one of the most important systems in your body. Its primary job is to digest the food you eat, but it also impacts everything from your immune system to your central nervous system! So, when something’s wrong in your gut, it can mark the beginning of a whole cascade of other health issues.
If you’re looking for relief from indigestion, bloating, and other stomach issues, here’s what to do to maintain gut health and give your body some much-needed digestion support.
Your digestive system: what it is and how it works
Your digestive system is the collection of organs that break down, digest, and metabolize food into the usable nutrients that your body needs.
Your food's path through your digestive system is called your gastrointestinal tract (GI), or, even more simply, your gut. Here’s what that journey looks like:
Mouth - The digestive system begins as soon as you start eating. As you chew your food, your salivary glands release digestive enzymes that begin to break down your food.
Esophagus - The chewed-up food then travels down to the rest of the GI tract via your esophagus.
Stomach - Once it reaches the stomach, the food is mixed with more digestive enzymes and broken down more via your stomach muscles.
Small intestine - The broken-down food is then released into your small intestine, where those usable nutrients and water are absorbed into your bloodstream where they can go on to be delivered and used in various cells throughout your body.
Large intestine - Meanwhile, after all the usable nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine, the waste products go into your large intestine where they are turned into stool.
Anus - Finally, the stool is expelled out of your anus during a bowel movement.
In addition to your connected gastrointestinal tract, your digestive system also includes other “accessory organs.” Your liver, pancreas, and gall bladder create and store other compounds and enzymes that further help break down your food into usable nutrients.
The importance of microbes in your GI tract
Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and other tiny microbes existing in a huge community that we collectively call the “gut microbiome.” While this might sound a little off-putting, those microbes are doing important jobs in helping your digestive system function regularly. For example, the “good bacteria” in your gut is tasked with digesting fiber, protecting your body from foreign bacteria species that can make you sick, and boosting your immune system.
Unfortunately, “bad bacteria” can also make their way into your intestines, which can then wreak havoc on your gut health. Some common issues that you might experience with poor gut health can range from gastrointestinal discomfort symptoms (bloating, indigestion, and gas) to more serious gastrointestinal health conditions like candida and inappropriate inflammatory responses.
How to improve gut health? Add a probiotic supplement to your routine!
One of the most obvious things that you can do to restore gut health is to take a closer look at your diet and ensure that you’re feeding your body with the right nutrients that your GI needs. But sometimes your gut may need some extra help, which is where gut health supplements can really make a difference.
Best probiotics for gut health
Probiotics are dietary supplements that contain live bacterial colonies and other microorganisms that may be beneficial for your gut health.
How this works: by introducing more live beneficial bacterial species into your gut through your diet and probiotic supplements, this “good bacteria” can then establish colonies and grow in your intestinal tract. The good bacteria then can carry out important roles like producing important digestive metabolites, synthesizing vitamins and nutrients, and improving your gut barrier to support your immune system – all while competing with the bad bacterial species and leaving them less room to grow.
Not all probiotics are made equal, however. Some probiotics may not contain enough live cultures to crowd out the bad bacterial species in your gut. Others may be broken down by your digestive system before the live cultures actually reach their intended destination. So, the best probiotic for gut health will:
contain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, two of the most important bacterial species for your gut health
use delayed-release encapsulation to protect the live cultures from stomach acids on the way to the intestines
be packaged to keep live cultures alive all the way from the production process to your gastrointestinal system
For a wide variety of high-quality gut support supplements, consider our PureBiotics™ formulas found in our Gut Health collection. With at least 30 billion live cultures and at least 12 different strains of probiotics, this collection of probiotics is specifically designed to maximize the number of good bacteria that reach your intestines and confer potential health benefits.*
What are prebiotics?
In addition to taking probiotics to restore gut health, you might also consider adding prebiotics to your diet for even more gut health support.
Prebiotics are a specific class of fibers that the good bacteria in your stomach can feed on. Some prebiotics benefits:
Taking prebiotics has been found to decrease populations of “bad bacteria” while promoting the growth of “good bacteria.”
Taking prebiotics is also thought to increase the production of beneficial metabolites by your gut microbiome, which ultimately aids your digestive and metabolism processes.
While you can get prebiotic fibers from a variety of fruits and vegetables, you can also take a prebiotic supplement.
More tips for gut health
Make sure you’re getting plenty of dietary fiber. Prebiotics are not the only fiber you should be on the lookout for in your diet! Both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers are integral for keeping your bowel movements regular and your intestines healthy. For the best results, consider eating a wide variety of plant-based foods.
Add more fermented foods to your diet. In addition to probiotic supplements, probiotics are also found naturally in fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha.
Limit your intake of foods with high fat and added sugar. Eating a diverse diet is one of the best things you can do to improve the diversity of your gut microbiome. Unfortunately, the modern Western diet tends to be filled with processed foods that can have the opposite effect when eaten too much. Some of the worst foods for gut health include fried food, alcohol, and added sugars.
Your gut microbiome is one of the biggest factors that play into your overall gut health. As a result, some of the best supplements for gut health are those that contain several billion beneficial bacterial species to establish a healthy and flourishing gut flora.