Supporting Your Gut Health

Supporting Your Gut Health

Supporting Your Gut Health The Essential Guide to Gut Supplements

Written by Heidi Harris, RD-N, CD-N, LD-N


What You’ll Learn: We discuss the different nutrients and probiotics that build and promote a natural and healthy gut. In this blog, we will briefly outline the supplements needed to help support healthy GI function, microbiome health and the nutrients needed to support the mucosal lining of the G.I. tract.

Have you ever wondered what natural steps you can take to help support your gut health? Gut health refers to the overall health of the digestive health system. The digestive system begins in the mouth and ends in the rectum. It includes organs such as the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and even the colon. Gut health considers a healthy balance and diversity of bacteria and microorganisms that make up the microbiome. The microbiome helps aid the digestion of macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins found in food and aids in the absorption of nutrients for use in the body.

Gut health isn’t just a passing trend. Gut health is essential to overall physical wellness because the gut plays a role in various bodily functions. From immune and skin health to gut signaling for mental health, a well-supported gut helps support your overall health.

Let’s dive deeper into this guide on essential nutrients to support your gut health.


We refer to living organisms such as bacteria, yeast, viruses, fungi, archaea and protozoa in the GI tract as the microbiome. To help support your gut health, you need to nourish healthy bacteria and keep them thriving.

A healthy microbiome balance in your gut is also important to support the immune system. Not to mention, the microbial balance is also susceptible to emotional and physical stress. The role of probiotics is to benefit and replenish the microbes typically found in your GI tract.

Now, let’s discuss common types of bacterial probiotics and some key characteristics surrounding probiotics.


Lactobacillus is a group of rod-shaped, non-spore-forming bacteria. There are many different types of strains of Lactobacillus, such as the popular Lactobacillus acidophilus, which helps support the immune system and healthy bacterial strains in the GI tract. The Lactobacillus genus is also home to Lactobacillus salivarius, which has been found to help maintain healthy immune mediator balance.4, 5, 6 Lactobacillus is also home to my favorite strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which supports healthy GI colonization, GI function and immune function with a special focus on skin and respiratory health.


Another aspect to consider when discovering which probiotics are helpful with gut health is how many colony-forming units are offered per serving. Colony-Forming Units (CFUs) are a unit of measurement that estimates the concentration of live microbial cells in a probiotic.


Bifidobacterium is another type of beneficial probiotic. It is a genus or type of branched rod-shaped bacteria, and like Lactobacillus, there are multiple species and strains. Probiotic provides Bifidobacterium in the strains of Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium lactis. These beneficial microflora support the gut’s own immune system. The strains in this probiotic are also believed to help support barrier function, G.I. cell health and T cell function within the G.I. tract.


Let’s switch gears and focus on prebiotics and their role in maintaining gut health. Prebiotics are essentially the healthy food source for probiotics. They are composed of food like complex carbohydrates and fibers. Prebiotics work to support the balance of microorganisms in the GI tract.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food components that modulate and support the gut microbiota. Research suggests that they play an even more significant role than probiotics, performing beneficial protective functions within the gut, leading to overall cellular, immune and metabolic support. I mentioned Bifidobacterium a little earlier, but prebiotics promote Bifidobacterium (the predominant intestinal bacterial genus during the first year of life) and is associated with healthy immune development and cytokine balance in infants and later in life.


We’ve discussed prebiotics and some specific probiotic strains. Now, let’s shift gears and discuss postbiotics. Postbiotics are bioactive compounds resulting from when probiotics feed on prebiotics. While postbiotics technically are considered microbial “waste” products, they offer many health benefits to support gut health.

Some types of postbiotics include short-chain fatty acids, lipopolysaccharides and even some enzymes. 


Another important concept to consider when discussing gut health is gut permeability, commonly called leaky gut. “Leaky gut” isn’t a recognized medical condition but rather a way to refer to increased gut permeability.

The function of digestion ultimately relies on the GI tract being semi-permeable. It’s the responsibility of the mucosal lining of the intestines to absorb water and nutrients from our food and into our bloodstream. Gut permeability refers to the mucosal lining letting more than just water and nutrients through, meaning the gut lining “leaks.”

Maintaining a healthy mucosal lining is another way to help support your immune system. Glutamine provides  the most abundant amino acid in the body for tissue repair and GI support. Glutamine works by playing a large role in maintaining the intestine’s mucosal protective lining.


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