So many of us suffer from gut-related issues, and there are a variety of different labels for the problems we can often face with this. These can range from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), through to a range of less specific things like flatulence, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and acid reflux.
There are millions of sufferers across the globe and yet because of the somewhat ‘embarrassing-seeming’ nature they can, at times, be hard to talk about.
It has been said that gut health is so important that it is like the second brain. So, here at Birch & Wilde, we want to make a stand and put this topic front and centre, and bring it into the spotlight! There are ways to help support yourself if you are struggling with anything ‘gut’ related.
It is important to keep all your normal basic common sense going - ensuring you eat a well-balanced diet (5 a day, not too much sugar or processed food, organic if possible), staying well hydrated, and ensuring good levels of fibre to keep the gut healthy.
However, as well as this, today we want to share our additional Top 5 Tips for how supplements can help with cleansing, detoxifying, and improving gut flora, function and absorption! So, without further ado, here are some of our favourites.
Probiotics are live micro-organisms (good bacteria) that can help to rebalance your own healthy bacteria in your gut. Whatever you’re suffering with, it can be really useful to try a probiotic – and they can be especially helpful after a course of antibiotics, and other medications.
We recommend taking a high-quality supplement form of probiotic over a sugary yoghurt drink style every single time. Often these are much more cost effective, obviously have less sugar other unneeded ingredients, are simpler to take, can pack in a great variety of bacteria, and of course, help to reduce single use plastics!
Whichever you choose to try, look for one that as a minimum contains lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. You can find out more about choosing the best Probiotics in our blog article – Probiotics: Our Top 3 Tips for Balancing Your Digestion.
To support the probiotics, you may also want to take a ‘prebiotic’! Often easily confused, there is an important difference! Rather than being live micro-organisms, prebiotics are made from the non-digestible parts of foods which then serve as food for the ‘good bacteria’ that you want to support.
Both probiotics and prebiotics can be really useful in supporting improved gut health, and they work very well in combination. However, if you are only going to try one, we would recommend the probiotic over the prebiotic. It is just likely to have a little bit more impact.
Charcoal? We know, it sounds a little bit odd…! But all joking aside, this is one of the fastest growing areas of natural health support at the moment. There is a growing wealth of supporting research and science behind its ability to act in a ‘gas-relieving’ capacity.
An Activated Charcoal supplement contains a fine powdered form of a specific type of charcoal. This can either be in capsule or loose powder form – for ease we would always recommend capsules!
Whilst it is thought to help all sort of gut health, research most strongly supports that activated charcoal traps toxins and chemicals in the gut, preventing their absorption. Also, that its negative electrical charge causes it to attract positively charged molecules like gas, which it can then carry it out of the body via faeces.
Therefore, if you’re struggling with feeling gassy and bloated, this might just be the very best supplement for you!
The European Food Safety Authority (2011) and Mann & Cheung (2003) have both found enough evidence that charcoal reduces gas for it to be deemed effective. And furthermore, on-going research suggests that it may help kidney health and water filtration, reduce indigestion, detoxify and cleanse the system, and help diarrhoea. The potential here is amazing - why not give it a try?
INULIN (CHICORY ROOT)
Most often created by soaking chicory roots in hot water, inulin is commonly used to support the gut; in particularly for constipation and diarrhoea. More scientifically, it is a water-soluble polysaccharide which belongs to a group of non-digestible carbohydrates called fructans. It functions as a prebiotic fibre used to improve gastric health. For this reason, it is gradually becoming more and more well known in supplement form.
It is possible that your Inulin levels may be limited. So, it can be very beneficial to supplement in this way to help re-balance your gut flora. However, just a little word of caution, that Inulin is already found in small amounts in whole wheat and some fruit and veggies (asparagus, bananas and garlic). So if you eat lots of these foods already, be a little wary.
The European Food Safety Association approves that 12 grams of long-chain chicory Inulin per day can help ease constipation, but take care to ensure you don’t have too much of this supplement (or the opposite effect may make itself known!).
DGL (LIQUORICE ROOT)
DGL actually stands for Deglycyrrhizinated Liquorice, and it is again very beneficial for all-round gut health. Liquorice has long been said to support the function of digestion. However, its ‘Glycyrrhizin’ is undesirable. So, removing this compound enriches the remaining biologically active compounds that can help maintain a healthy stomach and intestinal lining. In particular, it is wonderful for acid-reflux as it protects the gut lining by increasing mucus production!
This is one to have a little caution over, as it may interact with other medicines. So, be sure to check with your GP first (a quick call will usually do it). This could be a really great natural option if you suffer from acid reflux. Combined with aloe, this is a great way to supplement to support healthy digestion!
Overall, there are so many supplements out there to support gut health, that there are always natural options available – even if they are a tad embarrassing to talk about at first!
Here at Birch & Wilde, we are constantly amazed by the power of nature to aid our physical health, and this is what drives our passion to create! There’s always another way – nature is such a gift and we love finding ways to bring this to you and support you!
Stay well and happy beautiful one, lots of love,