|May 30, 2024

6 Best Supplements for Gut Health

By Molly Apel
Reviewed by Theresa Greenwell for Scientific Accuracy on 01/23/2024

6 Best Supplements for Gut Health

  • Your gut is home to trillions of gut bacteria. These microorganisms help you assimilate more nutrients from food, promote immunity and support regular digestion.
  • A healthy gut starts with a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet, but certain supplements can further support the gut microbiome to help you feel your best.
  • Read on to learn about the best supplements for gut health and how to improve gut health naturally.

Since no aspect of health operates in a vacuum, gut health impacts the other systems, functions and processes in your body.[1] Everything you do to your body—including what you put in it—can also impact gut health.[2] The best supplements for gut health support good gut bacteria, boost your immunity and help you get more nutrition from the foods you eat.

If you’re wondering how to improve gut health naturally, keep reading for details about digestive health supplements that actually work, according to research.

The best supplements for gut health

We know that healthy gut bacteria flourish when we eat a diet rich in whole foods—namely, one that’s rich in diverse vegetables and other plants, with few to no processed foods and refined sugars.[3] However, it can be challenging to consistently eat a healthy, diverse diet composed of whole foods. When your diet can’t deliver optimal nutrition, the best gut health supplements help keep your gut microbiome functioning optimally. These supplements can provide nutrients that may be lacking in your diet, support your beneficial gut bacteria and even strengthen your gut lining.

1. Probiotics

Illustration of gut bacteria

Your gut microbiome is home to trillions of microorganisms that maintain health and serve as your first line of defense against pathogens and unwanted bacteria.[4] Gut health and immune health are inextricably connected in this way.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help regulate the gut microbiome, to support immune health and other aspects of health.[5]

How can you improve gut health naturally? One way is by consuming more probiotic-rich foods including:

When you look up “how to improve gut health naturally,” you can usually find information about probiotic-rich foods like:

  • Yogurt and kefir
  • Fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Fermented soy products including miso, natto and tempeh
  • Kombucha

According to a 17-week randomized, prospective study published in 2021 in the journal Cell, eating a diet rich in fermented foods increased microbiome diversity and decreased certain markets of inflammation.[6]

Beyond fermented foods, probiotic supplements are also available. The most common strains used are Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus, along with Bacillus, Saccharomyces, Escherichia, Streptococcus and Enterococcus. These strains may offer specific support for areas of health, ranging from supporting healthy weight loss and everyday regularity and digestion to supporting a healthy immune system.[7]

Bulletproof tip: Some probiotic supplements are best taken in the morning on an empty stomach. Other supplements, like Bulletproof Innerfuel Prebiotic make it easy to add a scoop to your favorite beverage and sip your way to daily digestive support.†

2. Prebiotics

Adding Bulletproof InnerFuel Prebiotic to a blender of coffee

In addition to probiotics, prebiotics are among the best gut health supplements. They are nutrients that, while indigestible to the human body, can be digested by gut bacteria (probiotics).

Prebiotic fiber passes through your digestive tract without breaking down like the macronutrients fat, protein and carbohydrates do. Once prebiotic fiber arrives in the large intestine, the bacteria present in your colon ferment the prebiotics, which promotes digestive health.[8]

Prebiotics provide nutrition for the beneficial gut bacteria and:

  • Increase the population of helpful Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli
  • Produce beneficial metabolites
  • Fights the growth of bad bacteria
  • Improve immune system defense
  • Positively impact the permeability of the gut barrier

For a dietary supplement that goes to work specifically for your gut bacteria, try Bulletproof Innerfuel Prebiotic. It contains 17 grams of plant-based prebiotics for gut health and immune support.† It includes Larch Arabinogalactan, an immune-supporting ingredient naturally derived from the bark and heartwood of the Larch tree. It also provides free-radical fighting polyphenols.

Bulletproof tip: Add more polyphenols to your diet with Bulletproof Superfood Antioxidants, a free-radical defender that contains nine different polyphenol-rich berries and botanicals.†

3. Licorice root

Licorice root and powder

The digestive tract is lined with mucosal tissue that, when functioning optimally, tightly controls what can leave and enter the bloodstream. Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has been studied for its beneficial effects on repairing and strengthening the stomach lining. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in 2012 found an extract containing licorice root reduced pain and nausea, and expedited healing in patients with ulcers.[9]

Another small study from 2016 found that adding licorice root extract to a standard treatment for patients with dyspepsia was more effective in eradicating a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, which can cause chronic stomach inflammation.[10]

However, in its natural state, licorice root contains a compound called glycyrrhizic acid that can have adverse effects on health.[11] For that reason, look for DGL or deglycyrrhizinated licorice, which has been processed to remove that potentially harmful compound.

You can find licorice root as a tea, powder or supplement, and it’s commonly combined with other functional ingredients to support healthy digestion.

4. Collagen protein

Adding a scoop of Bulletproof Unflavored Gut Health Collagen Protein to a mug

As the most abundant protein in the body, collagen makes up structures throughout your body, including your bones, connective tissues and digestive tract. Collagen forms the structural framework of your GI tract, provides building blocks for a healthy gut and supports healthy joints and bones.†

Your body naturally makes some collagen, but it mostly relies on getting collagen’s building blocks from food. Both organ meats and bone broth are rich sources of amino acids that form collagen, but most people don’t eat enough to produce adequate supplies of collagen. That’s where a collagen protein supplement can offer support.

Bulletproof Gut Health Collagen Protein contains collagen, naturally, as well as prebiotics, probiotics and zinc carnosine to support a healthy gut microbiome.[12]† Because it’s unflavored, you can mix this beneficial formula into both hot, cold, savory or sweet foods and beverages.

6. Zinc carnosine

Fingers holding a pill

This compound form of zinc and carnosine is pretty amazing for gut health. Preliminary studies show that it enhances gut integrity—your stomach’s ability to maintain a strong intestinal lining.[13] [14]

Zinc is one of those supplements that supports your entire body, and plenty of people aren’t getting enough of it. If you want to eat more zinc-rich foods to support your digestive system, know that zinc carnosine is found in muscle tissues—think beef, turkey, pork and chicken.[15]

Bulletproof tip: Zinc is one of the key ingredients in Bulletproof Immune Gummies.

7. L-Glutamine (Optional)

Scoop of white powder

L-glutamine is an amino acid that has been found in animal studies to help support a healthy intestinal lining. More clinical studies are necessary before understanding if it has the same beneficial effect in healthy humans.[16]

You can find L-glutamine as a powder or supplement. It’s also found in animal proteins like beef, chicken, fish and eggs, leafy greens and fermented foods.

How to improve gut health naturally

Green vegetables on table

Prioritize whole-food nutrition by eating a diverse diet, then turn to supplements to provide what your everyday meals and snacks do not. Consider these tips for additional gut health benefits:

  • Eat probiotic foods: Consume more fermented foods that are rich in probiotics, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and yogurt. Pay attention to how you feel after eating these foods. If you experience bloating or constipation, reduce or pause your consumption. Or, talk to your health-care provider about taking a daily probiotic supplement, which may be gentler on your system.
  • Add more fiber: Fiber ferments in your gut and becomes food for your gut bacteria, instead of just passing through. It also benefits digestion and promotes regularity. Both prebiotic fiber and resistant starch feed beneficial gut bacteria.[17] When fiber ferments in your gut, it’s broken down into short-chain fatty acids that supports a healthy inflammatory response and help maintain the health of your gut lining.[18] Here are some tips for getting more vegetables in your diet.
  • Avoid sugar and processed foods: Diets high in sugar and preservatives can harm your gut. Certain strains of bacteria feed on sugar, causing them to multiply and overcrowd other strains. Cutting out sugar not only means eliminating candy and cookies. It also means cutting back on simple carbohydrates and alcohol. Consider swapping in these alternative sweeteners.
  • Drink bone broth: Collagen-rich bone broth delivers essential amino acids to fortify and rebuild your gut and tissues. Look for broth from 100% grass-fed beef or free-range chicken for a savory, satisfying snack. Or simmer a DIY version with this Homemade Bone Broth recipe.
  • Get enough sleep: Your microbiome changes when you don’t sleep enough. Studies have found that sleep loss increases inflammation and negatively changes the ratio of bacteria in your gut.[19] Aim for seven to nine hours a night.

Gut health is a foundation of overall health. When you have a healthy gut, you’re able to get more nutrients from your food and support a strong immune system. Adding some of the best gut health supplements can help fortify your defenses. Learn more about how to improve gut health.

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This article has been updated with new content and was originally published April 22, 2021.