Your gut (also known as the gut flora or gut microbiome) is home to millions (trillions, really!) of gut bacteria. In fact, the bacteria growing in your gut is all-powerful, and necessary for your health. But some of those bacteria, like viruses and fungi, are bad—in fact, they’re so bad they’re linked to a host of common diseases and health conditions.
But why would something you eat have such a huge impact on your health beyond weight gain or maybe some post-dinner bloating?
Well, you might have heard of something called the blood-brain barrier. According to a study published in the journal Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, interactions between the gut microbiome and the brain can affect the central nervous, gastrointestinal, and immune systems: “Data from preclinical and clinical studies have shown remarkable potential for novel treatment targets not only in functional gastrointestinal disorders but in a wide range of psychiatric and neurologic disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, and depression, among many others.”
In short, the phrase, “You are what you eat” is all too accurate.
Your gut is sort of a microcosm of your overall health, since what you put into it affects everything from your physical to your mental wellness. Known associations exist between gut health and immunity issues, adrenal problems, weight fluctuations, and metabolic issues such as diabetes. There are even studies pointing to findings that the gut can influence conditions like anxiety and depression.
So is everyone’s gut the same? Nope. What you eat may affect you differently than how it may affect someone else. Probiotic strains, or certain foods, for example, may affect you in a way totally unique to your body. Not to mention the fact that gut health is largely influenced by everything in your particular environment, like toxins from foods or chemicals, increased stress levels, alcohol intake, and medications you use (like antibiotics, which kill tons of bacteria, including the good ones that live in your gut).
Is Your Gut Causing Issues for Your Health?
There are plenty of signs of poor gut health—and not all of them have to do with bloating, constipation, or intolerance to certain foods. A physician within the BodyLogicMD network can help you map out the issue and come up with a path of healing for you.
For instance, you may be suffering from some of the below issues—all of which have a potential connection to gut issues.
Autoimmune conditions: Studies show that autoimmune disorders have a well-documented connection to gut health: “Evidence suggests that the composition of the intestinal microbiota can influence susceptibility to chronic disease of the intestinal tract including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as more systemic diseases such as obesity, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes,” according to a review in the journal Nutrients.
Skin rashes or conditions: “The beneficial effects of gut bacteria on skin health and appearance have been documented in several rodent and human studies,” according to a 2018 article in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology. “The intestinal microbiome contributes to skin allostasis, the restoration of homeostasis after a disturbance or stressor, through gut microbiota-mediated effects on both innate and adaptive immunity. Studies have demonstrated that gut bacteria can positively impact the response to disturbed skin barrier function.”
Sleep disturbances: Your gut health is affected by your sleep patterns—and this can largely impact your cognitive health, according to a 2017 study in Sleep Medicine: “Inadequate sleep increases the risk for age-related cognitive decline and recent work suggests a possible role of the gut microbiota in this phenomenon. Partial sleep deprivation alters the human gut microbiome, and its composition is associated with cognitive flexibility in animal models.”
Supplements for Gut Health
- Fiber, fiber, fiber
According to the Food Revolution Network, fiber is king: “When it comes to the bacteria in your gut, every time you eat, you are feeding somebody,” the network says. “Unfortunately, the modern industrialized diet is all too often feeding the bad guys and, just as important, starving the good. To put it simply, ‘bad’ bacteria tend to feed on sugar and unhealthy fats. And the single most important nutrient that good bacteria need to thrive inside you is fiber.”
It goes on to explain that when your body gets plenty of fiber, it’s able to really do its job; your digestion, your mental acuity, and even your mood can benefit. You need 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day—so you should be using a supplement if you’re not eating that much (and many people are not!). You can also eat more dark, leafy greens, pears, avocados, apples, bananas, carrots, beets, broccoli, and more. Focus on integrating a more plant-based approach into your daily eating.
- Daily probiotics and prebiotics
Probiotics and prebiotics can help your body replenish all the good bacteria it needs to thrive. One study found that people who took daily probiotic supplementation or ate 100 grams of probiotic yogurt per day (probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that your body needs to thrive at its best) experienced greater general health, and reduced depression, anxiety, and stress levels. The proof is in the pudding—or, the yogurt, in this case!
BodyLogicMD’s Pure Probiotic is a gut-loving supplement that contains active strains of both Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus and is designed specifically to support a healthy gut flora. It promotes digestion and the regulation of bowel movements, and it promotes immunity. Make sure you take daily probiotics within 30 minutes of eating (so the probiotics won’t get destroyed by stomach acid).
If you have a compromised immune system, are pregnant, or are at risk of developing infections, check with your doctor before adopting a probiotic regimen. (Although you should always check with a physician before taking any supplement anyway).
- A gut cleanseIf your practitioner thinks you are a good candidate for a gut cleanse, BodyLogicMD’s 14-day Pure Detoxification Cleanse is a nutritional program that was comprehensively formulated for safe and powerful detoxification. It contains functional food powder to support detoxification, so you’ll drink it with eight ounces of water twice per day. Easy!
BodyLogicMD’s 14-day Pure Detoxification Cleanse supports detoxification, promotes efficient digestion and absorption of the protein, provides nutrients and fiber, and helps your body get back to metabolic health.
- Digestive enzymes
Digestzymes, a BodyLogicMD product, contains specially designed digestive enzymes—along with betaine HCl (which supports proper digestion and intake of nutrients)—to support optimal digestion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It helps your body break down gluten and lactase, and it can even reduce the experience of gas and bloating after eating. Additionally, it wards off constipation and uncomfortable feelings of fullness. It’s also made with non-GMO ingredients.
According to integrative medicine doctor Taz Bhatia, MD, “This is an amino acid and one of my favorite supplements since it helps with digestion and re-establishes the gut lining by literally sealing the gut. Take 1 to 2 grams daily, in the morning or at whatever time you can take it most consistently.”
GlutaMED Rx is a glutamine supplement that supports a healthy intestinal lining and optimal gastrointestinal function. It’s made with high levels of glutamine.
In supplement form, licorice can be used to promote digestive health, according to the National Institutes of Health. To kick up the benefits, BodyLogicMD’s Adapto Pure contains licorice and provides adrenal support. This helps your body manage stress, which can, in turn, support a happy gut.
- Marshmallow Root
According to the European Medicines Agency, “Marshmallow root preparations ….can also be used to relieve mild discomfort of the stomach and gut.” And Amy Myers, MD, says, “This multipurpose herb has a high mucilage content, which covers your digestive tract with a protective lining and eases inflammation in your gut, helping to soothe ulcers, diarrhea, and constipation, as well as restoring the integrity of the small junctions found in your digestive system. This is one of the reasons why marshmallow root has been found to be so beneficial for people suffering from ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.”
Try GI Revive, which contains marshmallow root and offers comprehensive support for optimum gastrointestinal health and function.
Other Ways You Can Support Your Digestive Health
Beyond the above supplements, there are loads of things you can do to take care of your gut. A happy gut is a healthy body!
- Eat fermented foods (which are natural probiotics), including kombucha, yogurt, kefir, kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut.
- Eliminate or limit foods that can negatively affect your gastrointestinal health, including processed and sugary foods.
- Stay well hydrated and opt for water rather than sweetened or caffeinated beverages.
- Talk to your physician about how you can get off medications that trigger gastrointestinal distress.
- Get enough sleep. In fact, “The majority of the body’s serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and sleep, is produced in the gut,” according to For this reason, it’s key you aim for seven to nine hours per night.
- Manage your stress level as stress can negatively impact your gut health. According to Lise Naugle, “Stress has many negative effects on gastrointestinal function, including increased intestinal permeability.” You can manage your stress levels by adopting daily stress-management rituals, like meditation, journaling through your anxieties and worries, morning or evening yoga, deep breathing, and stepping away from stressful or triggering situations.
In the end, a happy gut means a healthy body, and a physician with advanced training in nutrition and lifestyle, like the doctors in the BodyLogicMD network, can help guide you to the solutions that will best support your health and wellness.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.