Gut Check on Gut Health

Gut Check on Gut Health

Publish Date September 8, 2023 3 Minute Read
Author Shelly Beck, RDN, LD

"Gut health" is a term that has been growing in popularity. It refers to the overall state or condition of the gut microbiome in our digestive tract. According to the CDC, the microbiome is the community of microorganisms, like bacteria, fungi, and viruses, that live in and on our bodies. Having good gut health means ensuring that your gut and gut microbiome are healthy and have the correct balance of "good" bacteria that the body needs to function.

Gut health matters more than you might think. The digestive tract plays a role in the well-being of the entire body, including immune health, emotional well-being, skin health and so much more. So how can you best support gut health?

Gut-Friendly Products

Many products advertise to be "gut friendly" or boast that they boost gut health, but what exactly do these products contain that provide benefits for gut health?

Prebiotics and probiotics are nutrients that fuel good gut health. Probiotics are live and active cultures, or the healthy bacteria, that are found in certain food products. Prebiotics are the food to support/feed the healthy gut bacteria. Ideally, you would get your prebiotics and probiotics from their most easily absorbable source: food. Prebiotics are found in high-fiber foods such as oatmeal, beans and bananas, while probiotics are found naturally in foods such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented food products. You can eat those products alone or use them in recipes like this Kefir Marinated Chicken and Shrimp Kabobs or this Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip. To learn more about the food that supports gut health, check out this article.

There are a variety of probiotics that have different benefits. When looking at probiotic supplements, the name of the probiotic must be identified, and they are often listed on ingredient lists of food too! This is very helpful if you are looking to benefit from a certain type of probiotic. If you are suffering from constipation, try looking for the probiotic, “B. animalis subsp. Lactis". On the other hand, if you are dealing with diarrhea, “Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus” may help with that. Some types of probiotics like "Lactobacillus plantarum" may help lower cholesterol. These are just a few examples of some probiotics and their benefits; the overall list is much longer. But remember, it's important to talk to your doctor and registered dietitian before adding any new supplements to your diet. You can schedule a Telenutrition appointment to find the best fit for you.

Probiotics vs. Antibiotics

Probiotics play an important role regarding the management of antibiotics use. Antibiotics are medications that fight bacterial infections, either by killing the bacteria or making the environment unfavorable for bacterial growth. Antibiotics don’t target a certain type of bacteria - good or bad - rather they affect ALL the bacteria in our system. This may lead to people wiping out their entire gut microbiome with antibiotic use. Consuming probiotic-rich foods on a regular basis or taking a probiotic supplement can help replenish the body with healthy bacteria after taking antibiotics.

Aside from food and supplements, there are other ways to support gut health. Reducing or managing stress levels, getting adequate sleep, staying active and avoiding tobacco can all aid in a healthier gut. Remember that the function of the gut goes beyond just digesting food; a healthy gut means a healthy YOU.

Explore more healthy living advice from our team of experts.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not intended to provide specific healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.