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Optimize Your Gut

Optimize Your Gut: Top 9 Evidence-Based Gastro-intestinal System Boosters

As a critical part of the immune system, the gastrointestinal system, also called the gut, is the center for your overall health. Containing 70% of all serotonin transmitters, the gut produces 90 to 95% of all serotonin activity in the body.

The surface space of the gut is 100 times the surface area of our skin. This is even more fascinating to consider our gut holds 150 times more unique genes in our “gut microbiome”, (3.3 million) than the actual human genome.

This means 100 trillion microbes within the human digestive system regulate our immunity and inflammatory response, besides the synthesis of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other essentials. Researchers have furthermore discovered that 70% of our immune system also exists within the gut.

When we consume dietary fiber, it ferments in the gut, leading to the creation of GABA, the calming neurotransmitter, arising out of short-chain fatty acids, (SCFA’s), such as acetate, butyrate, and propionate in the gut. We believe these bacteria produced molecules are so profoundly powerful, some researchers will even say things such as, “butyrate can change your life.”

Besides inflammation, the general topics of “Leaky Gut” and “Brain Fog”, continue to attract further research, attention-seeking answers and a better understanding of this relationship. As studies continue focusing on the gut-brain relationship, some scientists are calling the gut, “the second brain”.

The overall inflammatory response of the body, via the gut microbiome, with conditions such as Crohn’s and inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), is increasingly being better-understood. With the advancement and specific understanding, the gut microbiome, in this sense, is a topic of exceptional interest and excitement to continue exploring and studying.

These findings have even brought us direct implications for a better understanding of other conditions such as cardiovascular disease and other indications found within body and brain pathways. Logically, it just continues to make sense to researchers and health optimizers to focus on circling the wagons around gut optimization.

What are the Top 9 Evidence-Based Gut Optimizers?


#1 L-Glutamine

Commonly thought of as only a gym supplement, glutamine is actually best understood to repair and support the gut lining, especially while under stress. In Japan, glutamine is the most popular anti-ulcer medication prescribed by doctors in dosages of 20 grams a day or more.

As seen in the improvement of gut permeability, glutamine can improve the growth and survival of enterocytes, or intestinal cells. This finding alone leaves us with further and more important connections to make on overall stress, inflammation, and immune response.

#2 Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber means that it is fermentable, or digestible by the body. The primary mechanism of soluble forms of fiber is that it increases levels of beneficial or friendly bacteria in the gut microbiome.

Soluble fiber serves to calm the stomach, increase digestion efficiency while easing constipation and other adverse gut side effects such as diarrhea. Finally, we can find soluble fiber in studies lowering cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, appetite, and body weight.

Dietary fiber still remains a “Keto-friendly” and “Vegan-friendly” food source we find in popular options such as avocados, nuts, and even some fiber supplements, such as psyllium. As previously discussed, dietary fiber produces SCFAs, serotonin, and GABA in the body.

#3 Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble does not dissolve in water, contains no calories, and is not digestible by the gut. Despite not being digestible, we have discovered insoluble fiber to alter the gut microbiome positively in as little as two weeks.

Containing no usable carbohydrates, we refer to insoluble fiber as a metaphoric “brush for the insides”. In contrast to soluble fiber, insoluble fiber speeds up digestion, to reduce constipation, by adding “bulk” thus maintaining regularity.

We find insoluble fiber to lower the risk of heart disease in high-risk individuals. Finally, insoluble fiber improves insulin sensitivity and risk for type 2 diabetes.

#4 Digestive Enzymes

The aging process along with stress lowers the production of our natural digestive enzymes. Optimizing digestion is critically important as undigested food matter feeds the harmful bacteria, which further worsens the problem of gut dysbiosis, a condition where the balance in the gut microbiome favors the “bad” bacteria.

Plant-based enzymes can work for vegans, however, full-spectrum animal-sourced enzymes are more effective, as they more closely resemble human enzymes. We can use a full spectrum of digestive enzymes to supplement our meals, to optimize our digestion.

#5 Marine Collagen (Or Glycine, Hydroxyproline, Proline)

Marine based collagen in studies perform as the best type of collagen for repairing and supporting the gut. While glycine, hydroxyproline, and proline are the three amino acids involved with this process, vegans can use separate glycine and proline supplements as an option.

Vegan collagen supplements do not appear to perform as effectively as taking the isolated amino acids. Because of their promotion of deeper sleep and drowsiness, many will take collagen supplements before bedtime.

#6 Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a proven gut workhorse. Not only does aloe vera lower gut inflammation, it as well can soothe, calm, and repair the entire gastrointestinal tract.

Also proven to heal ulcers and lower gut permeability, aloe is available in both aloe vera juice and capsules. Aloe remains a reliable option for everyday gut health for all health optimizers.

#7 Curcumin

The active polyphenol compound found in turmeric, curcumin, is a member of the ginger family and has a gastro-protective mechanism of action according to several studies. Curcumin relaxes the intestinal tract for more efficient digestion, supports healthy microbiome bacterial balance, protects the stomach from inflammation, and finally supports the liver and storage of blood fats, by increasing bile secretion.

We have found piperine from black pepper to increase the otherwise low bioavailability of curcumin. When taken with meals containing black pepper, fat will also increase the absorption of curcumin.

#8 Berberine

Often considered a potent blood sugar modulator, the use of berberine is finding support for gut inflammation diseases. Much like curcumin, berberine improves the gut microbiome balance and additionally lowers overall inflammation.

Berberine offers anti-pathogenic properties including activity on viruses and bacteria besides its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. One study found it in combination with NAC to be a disruptor of the bacterial biofilm.

#9 Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)

Licorice, in this patented form of Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), does not carry adverse blood pressure effects, while still delivering valuable protection of digestive tract lining along with more efficient digestion support.

Popular in use as an aid for gastroesophageal reflux disease, (GERD), DGL typically comes in a chewable form, much like an antacid chewable, and is likewise available in capsule form.



Extras

Probiotics

While more researchers agree that probiotics are best absorbed from prebiotics and other plant-based fiber sources, a probiotic supplement can be useful to repopulate the friendly bacteria in the gut microbiome in specific scenarios. This is a complex topic deserving of its own more detailed explanation, as each gut biome is diverse and complex as we still are not sure supplements will work and/or be beneficial to every individual.

People will usually use a probiotic supplement, while undergoing a short round of antibiotics or a medication such as a proton pump inhibitor, such as Prilosec.

Betaine HCL with Pepsin

Evidence shows 90% of common stomach ulcers, gastritis, and gastroesophageal acid reflux disease, (GERD), when not caused by h-pylori infection, are actually caused by low and not excessive stomach acid. So in actuality, chronic sustained use of acid reducers is counterproductive for many people.

Betaine HCL with pepsin taken before meals can fix this problem for those with low stomach acid. While not as reliable as an official medical exam, simple home testing with baking soda or betaine HCl with pepsin can tell one if they might have a low stomach acid problem needing fixing.


Notables

Chamomille, gentian bitters, ginger, manuka honey, mastic gum, medicinal mushrooms: (Chaga, cordyceps, lion’s mane, maitake, reishi, shitake), melatonin, omega-3’s: (DHA, EPA, algae oil, cod liver oil, fish oil, krill oil, phospholipids), peppermint.


Others

Acacia, apple cider vinegar, apple pectin, artichoke extract, beta-glucans, betaine HCL, biotin, bladderwrack, CBD, candle, caprylic acid, cabbage, capsicum, cardamom, cayenne, chamomile, coconut vinegar, collagen, d-limonene, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, glucomannan, green banana, green papaya, green tea, honey, inulin, l-Arginine, l-lysine, lectin, lemon essential oil, lime essential oil, marshmallow root, methylcellulose, NAC, n-acetyl glucosamine, oats, oat fiber, pectin, poly-l-lysine, prebiotics, psyllium, quercetin, sea buckthorn, thyme, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, wakame, wild yam, zinc, zinc-carnosine.