By Dr. Josh Axe
Gut and digestive-related interests are very common among adults living in countries including the U.S.
Certain gut-supporting supplements can help to ease common issues such as occasional bloating and promote healthy elimination by supporting a healthy balance of bacteria in your microbiome, facilitating digestion, and assisting you in maintaining overall gut health and function.
So what is the best supplement for gut health? There are actually a handful of helpful gut health supplements available — such as probiotics and certain protein powders that provide specific amino acids.
The best types of gut supplements for you will depend on which area of gut health you’re interested in. And if you’re interested in more than one area of digestive health, there are fortunately some products you can take that help those as well.
Common Gut Topics
Did you know that the role of your gut microbiome extends far beyond digestion? Many people don’t realize that their gut houses the majority of their immune systems, play a role in healthy weight management and help facilitate a normal inflammatory response, in addition to having many other roles.
In many cases, digestive and gut-related topics such as occasional gas, constipation or bloating are rooted in an imbalance of microbes residing with the gut (or microbiome).
Other factors that can negatively impact the gut include eating a poor quality diet, having lots of stress and nutrient absorption, which is sometimes due to a variety of factors.
Some of the most common gut topics include:
- Occasional bloating and flatulence/gassiness
- Occasional diarrhea
- Occasional heartburn or indigestion
- Energy levels
- Immune system healthy (because your immune system is mostly located in your gut, a healthy gut is needed for healthy immune system function)
- Your outlook and focus (your gut can impact your overall outlook because there are hundreds of millions of neurons located in your gastrointestinal tract and these neurons send signals back and forth to your brain)
Best Supplements for Gut Health
How can you support your gut health with supplements? Adding certain probiotics, amino acids, enzymes, herbs and vitamins to your routine can make a big difference in promoting a healthy gut and gut lining.
Below are some of the most highly recommended supplements for gut health:
1. SBO Probiotics
Probiotics are the ”good guy” bacteria that you want to help thrive in your gut. Not only can you get them from eating fermented foods, but you can also take them in capsule form, such as Ancient Nutrition's SBO Probiotics Gut Restore formula or SBO Probiotics Ultimate formula.
What are the best probiotics supplements to look for? We recommend soil-based organism probiotics (SBO) that generally have an extraordinary ability to survive harsh conditions in the GI tract — this way they can actually make it to parts of your gut where they can go to work.
Once they’re able to populate in your gut, SBO Probiotics offer benefits including support for healthy immune system function, nutrient absorption, elimination and digestive health.
Another unique advantage that our SBO Probiotics formulas have is that they contain a combination of 25 billion CFUs* (*at time of manufacture) soil-based probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics to create a “trifecta approach." Prebiotics act as fertilizer for probiotics, while postbiotics are the metabolites (enzymes and organic acids) created by probiotics that can have beneficial effects.
Try taking 1–2 SBO probiotics capsules on an empty stomach, either when you first wake up or right before bed. Consult the label for more specific directions. Likewise, please consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including supplementation.
2. Digestive Enzymes
Enzymes help food get broken down and metabolized as it should. Digestive enzymes help to ensure that the foods you’re eating are digested properly, which generally supports a healthy gut microflora, a healthy gastrointestinal tract and a healthy immune system.
Ancient Nutrition’s Digestive Enzymes features blend of fermented mushrooms and botanicals, 11 select enzymes and 2 Billion CFUs of probiotic support per serving.
We recommend gradually working your way up to taking 3 capsules — one at the beginning of each meal. Please see label directions for suggested use.
3. Certain Vitamins and Minerals
Certain vitamins and minerals — such as antioxidants like vitamin C, zinc and selenium — can help fight free radicals.
Vitamin C also helps the body synthesize collagen, which forms connective tissues found in the GI tract that promote gut lining integrity. Additionally, it supports a healthy immune defense and promotes healthy antioxidant activity.
Zinc is another nutrient that is important for maintaining healthy immune defenses and supporting generally healthy digestion.
4. Multi Collagen Protein
Having a healthy gut microbiome means that you’re able to maintain a healthy intestinal barrier, which is where collagen protein comes into play.
Collagen is a structural protein that is best known for providing the foundation for strong connective tissues, including those that form the gut lining. It does this thanks to the role of certain amino acids that help promote gut lining integrity, such as glycine, proline and arginine.
Ancient Nutrition’s Multi Collagen Protein (MCP) powder (and Multi Collagen Capsules) promotes a healthy gut, in addition to supporting healthy skin, hair and nails. This unique formula provides you with collagen from four sources, including wild-caught pollock, bovine, chicken and egg shell membrane collagen, so you don't have to choose between the different types of collagen.
This non-GMO and gluten-free formula also contains no fillers, sugar, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives, ensuring you get the highest quality collagen available.
MCP comes in several flavors including the pure/unflavored formula which can be mixed into coffee, smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods, soups, and many other recipes. Aim to consume between 1–3 servings daily, or about 10 to 30 grams of collagen protein. Always read and follow label directions for use.
5. Bone Broth Protein
Bone broth, which is made by simmering the bones and connective tissue of animals such as cattle, fish or chicken, is a traditional stock that is brimming with beneficial collagen and other cofactors and important minerals. However, it can be time-consuming to make from scratch, which is why Bone Broth Protein powder is a great option.
Bone Broth Protein powder made from chicken features collagen type 2 along with glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid and 19 amino acids to support healthy gut integrity.
BBP can be consumed 1–3 times daily to increase protein/amino acid intake. (Be sure to read and follow label directions for use.) BBP powders come in several flavors and mix easily with water, green juice, coffee, almond/coconut milk or smoothies, and can even be baked with or cooked.
6. Licorice Root
Licorice root (which comes from the plant with the species name Glycyrrhiza glabra) is considered an adaptogenic herb that supports normal absorption of nutrients and a healthy response to stress.
It contains the active compound called glycyrrhizin that is generally known to help support the health of the mucosal lining of the gut, which assists in a healthy response to inflammation.
You’ll find this herb in several forms, including extracts, capsules, powders, tinctures and teas. It’s added to Ancient Nutrition’s Leaky Gut Capsules that also features 2 billion CFUs* of SBO probiotics, as well as the herbs called astragalus, marshmallow root and L-glutamine for extra digestive support.
Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet, Collagen Diet and the newly published Ancient Remedies.