Although the ability to eat and digest food is one of the most pleasurable things in our lives, our digestive system is also one of the most common concerns that our patients bring to our attention.
As you know, our ability to digest is influenced by multiple factors, including our stress and inflammation levels, as well as the type, quality, and quantity of the foods we choose to put into our bodies.
However, something that we do not often consider in our gut health is the balance of the multiple bacterial species within our intestines. Specifically, this balance helps us to process food to release the correct nutrients and decrease inflammation in our gut and our entire body.
How can we potentiate an appropriate balance of the correct bacteria in our intestines? Most importantly, an appropriate amount of probotics (helpful bacteria), prebiotics (the food for these bacteria), and even post-biotics (the food for your intestinal cells) is essential.
For probiotics, look for supplements with multiple species of bacteria, including Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces boulardii, Streptococcus, and my personal favorite, Bacillus coagulans, which also reaches the large intestine. Each species should have at least 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs), and an enteric coated
capsule is preferred. These probiotics should be used for a minimum of 8 weeks, although I often choose continuous supplementation.
For prebiotics, I generally recommend an Inulin fiber, which is well tolerated and improves intestinal discomfort - Inulin is a naturally occurring fiber that is found in the skins of fruits and vegetables. Because most of us only get about a tenth of the necessary daily fiber, I recommend Inulin supplements.
Finally, a useful post-biotic is Butyrate, a nutrient that comes to us from butter, which feeds the cells of the large intestine. I recommend obtaining the most bio-available Butyrate supplement, in the form of tributyrin. It’s important to recognize that working towards a balanced gut is not just useful for our digestive health, it’s a factor in nearly all chronic and difficult to diagnose diseases, having the power to affect our
mood and cognitive function, and chronic illnesses such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer. A balanced gut is truly the “magic pill” we have all been seeking.
For further information, please consider a consultation with the Integrative Medicine physicians at The Chen Center, a membership based, personalized concierge medicine service.