HOW TO BETTER GUT HEALTH: YOUR BEST OPTIONS
Poor gut health has a way of interfering with almost every aspect of your life, doesn’t it? You plan things, but then your stomach says “Nope. not today.” Or maybe you ate at a fancy restaurant yesterday, but then you were up all night with heartburn. But say you eat right. You might even be on a special diet, and it might even help. But your food options have become so limited that the fun of eating has disappeared. Fear not, though, and take heart! You might feel like your treatment choices are limited, but you’ve got plenty. Even if you don’t suffer from gut problems, you know you need to take care of your gut. Let’s get you feeling more like your normal self–or keeping you like your normal self– with these ways to better gut health.
Options for Better Gut Health
Shockingly, a 2020 study published in the journal Gastroenterology revealed that as much as 40 percent of people worldwide have gastrointestinal disorders. Although the range of disorders included in that percentage differed from country to country, the evidence is clear. A lot of people deal with a lot of stomach problems. These problems can include:
- Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Hemorrhoids (internal or external)
- Anal fissures
- Perianal abscesses
- Anal fisulas
- Diverticular disease
- Colon polyps and cancer
If you are someone with one of those diseases, or care for someone who has one, you know that getting symptoms under control means not just feeling better physically, but mentally as well. There’s a reason these diseases are now called disorders of gut-brain interaction by some. In fact, one study summarizing the results of four other studies on the correlation between stomach problems and depression or anxiety found a significant relationship. Although the exact cause-and-effect relationship is unclear (does constant anxiety cause Leaky Gut, for example, or does Leaky Gut make someone anxious about their future?), it seems clear that treating the mental disorders can help break the cycle or at least ameliorate the symptoms.
By that same token, so can taking gut health supplements. Of course, the best, most direct way of fixing your gut and feeling better is adjusting your diet. If you have Celiac Disease, for instance, you must follow a gluten-free diet. People with LGS often have several food sensitivities, so taking those foods out of their diets often lessens symptoms. Once you’ve shored up that first line of defense, consider these four kinds of gut health products:
How to Better Gut Health With Probiotics
A surprising number of things deplete our good gut bacteria, according to Healthline:
- Not eating a diverse range of foods
- Not getting enough prebiotics in the diet
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Antibiotic use
- Lack of regular physical energy
- Not getting enough sleep
- Too much stress
All of these things can disrupt the balance between your friendly gut bacteria and your unfriendly bacteria. Essentially, they’re not playing well together, so you get to play playground supervisor and teach them how to be friends. Because if the bad bacteria wins, that means tummy problems. We obviously want the good bacteria to win because that means a happy tummy and no life interruptions.
Probiotics are microscopic living organisms–live beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts. A lot of probiotic foods and formulas cram grocery store shelves, but which ones are best? The most common probiotic bacteria, the ones you want more of, are:
- Saccharomyces boulardii
Acidophilus (a subtype of lactobacillus) is another one that can restore that balance, although it hasn’t been approved by the FDA to treat any disease. It definitely should not be substituted for prescription medication. Drugs.com provides this list of a few different probiotic formulas that some users have found effective in treating their stomach ailments.
Our Ortho Molecular Ortho Biotic Capsules contain a combined 23 billion lactobacillus, bifidobacterium, and saccharomyces boulardii strains.
Better Gut Health With Prebiotics
Think of prebiotics as fertilizer, what’s needed to make the good bacteria grow. They’re made of specialized plant fibers found in a lot of fruits and vegetables, as well as certain supplements. So don’t forget the prebiotics when buying your probiotics!
Prokinetics For the Win
A healthy gut not only contains the right balance of probiotics. It also moves, or in technical terms, has “promotility.” Drugs that promote promotility are called “prokinetics,” meaning they increase the strength and number of gastrointestinal muscle contractions. Prokinetics can help conditions like gastroparesis, which can cause nausea and upper abdominal pain.
Frontiers in Pharmacology reports that “in most countries, only two [prokinetic] medications are approved or available for the treatment of gastroparesis: metoclopramide and domperidone.” Antibiotics erythromycin and azithromycin can also speed up the contractions, indirectly through a hormone called motilin. Neither drug has been approved for gastroparesis, but they are used in pediatric patients with the condition. Of course, because they’re antibiotics, long-term use is discouraged to prevent antibiotic resistance. Both drugs can also cause some cardiac arrythmias.
Anti-fungals for Better Gut Health
When gut motility is slowed by surgery or disease, fungi and bad bacteria can grow out of control as your digested food essentially rots inside you. As mentioned, we know we’ve all got good and bad bacteria in us naturally. Candida too is a type of fungus commonly found in our guts that is usually harmless. When the fungus in our gut grows out of control, that’s called “candida in the gut.” It can be caused by
- Gut inflammation
- Acid reflux
- Long-term steroid use
- Immunosuppressive drugs
SIBO, or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, occurs when there’s an abnormal increase in the overall bacterial population in the small intestine. Similarly, SIFO, or Small Intestinal Fungal Overgrowth, means there’s an abnormally high number of fungal organisms in the small intestine.
None of the treatments for candida in the gut, SIBO, or SIFO cure the diseases, but they can lessen symptoms. Doctors, particularly practitioners of complementary or alternative medicine, will generally recommend specific gut-cleansing diets before medication. Once the gut has been cleansed, they may prescribe anti-fungals like nystatin, itraconazole, or fluconazole.
The Short of It
The point is that, for all the parts of your gut to play together nicely, they need proper care. Just like children, they do better when they’re properly fed. And they need correction when they misbehave. Within the categories of probiotics, prebiotics, prokinetics, and antifungals lie many options. Your friendly neighborhood pharmacist or doctor can help you match your symptoms with the right solution.
Leave a Comment