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December 11, 2023 6 min read

In a world where we're constantly bombarded by advertisements to improve our health and general well-being, differentiating between genuinely helpful products and snake oil can be difficult. The trick to not being deceived is to exercise a little more scrutiny. Fortunately, it's the work of a moment to do some research ourselves to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Choosing a supplement for gut health is no different. Looking into what's touted to be effective and understanding why is a strong basis for making the right choice.

We've taken care not to include any dubious or unsubstantiated options to get you started!

How to Supplement for Gut Health

The first step before deciding to supplement your diet for better health or something more specific is to understand the basics of the mechanisms involved. For example, many people don't get enough sunlight and have less than optimal levels of vitamin D. To alleviate the problems associated with this lack, it's common to supplement our diet with a pill.

This is a safe and effective way to make sure our bodies have access to everything they require to run optimally and prevent undue wear and damage before they occur. Our gut is arguably the foundation of our health, and worthy of specific care and attention if we hope to maintain a body fit for the rigors of an active life. If our bodies require several different vitamins and nutrients, it stands to reason that looking after the mechanisms through which they're able to enter our system is of vital importance.

It's down to us to do a little digging to further our understanding of how the gut functions and how we might best facilitate all the great work it does for us. The unfortunate reality is that we rarely appreciate the precision our bodies run with until something goes awry. To this end, it's worth getting ahead of any potential problems before they occur, shoring up weaknesses before they become serious.

Prevention is always easier than finding a cure, and it's good practice not to leave our bodies to their own devices. Waiting to intervene until it's too late is hardly paying our bodies the respect and courtesy they deserve.

The Importance of Gut Bacteria

Studies increasingly show that our gut is far more complicated than we give it credit for and that its health may have far further-reaching implications than previously imagined. Some interesting implications are being drawn from the discovery that our gut bacteria produce over 90% of the serotonin in our bodies. Serotonin is the chemical that carries messages between the nerve cells in our brains and throughout our bodies.

Serotonin also mediates feelings of contentment, happiness, and optimism in general. It doesn't take a genius to wonder if the link between our contentment in life, how well our gut is functioning, and how what we choose to eat might be directly affecting our frame of mind. Once we begin to wonder about our health in these terms, the state of our gut microbiome suddenly becomes a lot more interesting.

A healthy gut exists in a state of symbiosis with the bacteria it contains. The bacteria produce important chemicals without which we would cease to function, and our gut provides a hospitable environment for them to thrive. This mutually beneficial relationship is directly affected by our activity levels and what we choose to ingest.

Probiotics

Much of the science of gut supplementation seeks to improve the health of our gut flora directly rather than our gut itself, as this has proven to be more beneficial. Effectively, a healthy and diverse bacterial gut microbiome means a healthy and functional gut. The two are inseparable; bolstering the health and diversity of our intestinal flora can even prevent or alleviate the effects of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

This is done through the supplementation of probiotics and prebiotics, especially probiotics such as B. infantis, Lb. planetarium and Lb. rhamnosus. Probiotics are simply supplements or foodstuffs containing the type of bacteria we've learned is beneficial to the function of our gut. A healthy gut flora would naturally develop if we were eating like our ancestors without an ultra-processed diet.

The abundance of chemical preservatives in our food is causing havoc where our bacterial flora is concerned. In some cases, an unhealthy gut can be directly attributed to a poor diet, in which case supplementation with probiotics is an especially good idea. While it's true that our food lasts longer in our cupboards, the downside is the destruction of much of the bacteria we need for a healthy gut.

Prebiotics

Probiotics and prebiotics both concern the health of the bacteria in our gut but in different ways. The thought behind probiotics is to increase the bacterial flora in our gut by adding them directly through eating foods containing live culture bacteria or by consuming supplements specifically designed for the purpose.

Prebiotics act to support the existing bacteria in our gut by providing everything necessary for them to flourish. Prebiotics are mostly non-digestible fibers that the bacteria like to eat and come in many different forms. The chances are good that you're already ingesting a fairly large amount of prebiotics without even knowing it!

Commonly consumed foods considered particularly good for bacterial gut health include garlic, onion, and whole grains. If you'd like to further bolster the nutrients available to your gut microbiome, you can supplement your diet further with some especially effective prebiotics that are unlikely to be found in a normal diet. For example, dandelion greens and chicory root have proven to be particularly effective and can both be bought in forms easily added to your existing diet in supplementary form.

Identifying an Unhealthy Gut

We usually assume what we experience in our daily lives in terms of bodily functions to be normal and don't give much thought to them, even if some discomfort is involved. We've all experienced the unfortunate results of overindulging in a favorite food, for example. Living with an unhealthy gut often becomes the norm for some people without them ever realizing their discomfort is preventable.

Living with poor sleep, sugar cravings, gas, unexplained sluggishness, and irritable bowels are all indications that your gut isn't in the best of health. You may well have become accustomed to some of these discomforts, but in truth, doing so is often unnecessary. Once the gut is identified as the cause of the issue, making a change to counteract a potentially preventable problem is well worth the effort.

The link between gut health and our health in general is far more intertwined than many people appreciate. Rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid issues, and even skin conditions can be directly linked to a poorly functioning gut. It's clear that a healthy, fully functioning gut serves as a firm foundation for our bodies in general and ought not to be overlooked.

B Vitamins and Gut Health

The inclusion of B vitamins in a well-rounded diet is greatly beneficial to the overall health and productivity of the gut microbiota. The trillions of bacteria that make up our intestinal flora require a diverse range of vitamins and nutrients, and B vitamins are among the most important for them to flourish in optimal conditions.

B vitamins are vital for many of our physiological functions such as DNA synthesis, hair and nail growth, and red blood cell formation. Their function in the gut is no less important, promoting a strong intestinal wall, which is crucial to gut barrier integrity. An intestinal wall that isn't as strong and functional as it ought to be is a disaster for our health in general.

Leaky gut syndrome describes the weakening of the intestinal wall to such a degree that toxins and unfriendly bacteria can permeate into our bloodstream. This is disastrous to the balance of a body struggling to run optimally and should be avoided at all costs. The inclusion of B vitamins serves to bolster this barrier and prevent foreign bodies from finding their way into where they don't belong.

The roles of B vitamins in the gut and the body in general are many and varied. Gut health aside, immune function, energy metabolism, and neurotransmitter synthesis all hinge on the free availability of many integral B vitamins. B vitamin supplementation goes a long way; its benefits within the body are far-reaching and effective for general bodily maintenance and prevention of many common ailments.

Blue Collar Nutrition

Maintaining a healthy body is the foundation for a productive and contented life. Taking care to ensure the smooth running of our primary vehicle in this world is our first duty if we expect to get anything done and enjoy ourselves in the process.

The choice to supplement for gut health isn't a waste of time or money; it's simply good sense. At Blue Collar Nutrition, we're proud to offer straightforward products without any of the nonsense or mysticism so commonly associated with the health supplement industry.

If you'd like to learn more, feel free to ask!

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