Best Drinks for Gut Health
The importance of gut health is widely known thanks to its ability to impact everything from the immune system to mental health; around 70% of our immune system located in our gut while most of the 40 trillion bacteria that live in our bodies can be found in our intestines. And while there are many things you can eat to help directly affect the health of your gut (plenty of plant foods and whole, unprocessed and non-sugary foods), there are also plenty of things you can drink that help maintain a healthy and balanced gut environment too.
The key is to mix up your drinks as much as possible to ensure you’re getting a diverse helping of bacteria and to look for drinks labelled as having billions (rather than millions) of CTUs or colony forming units. It’s these units that measure the number of viable bacteria that are likely to reach your gut and be able to make a difference.
Usually made by adding live kefir grains (small gelatinous beads that look like grains) to milk which then ferment, kefir contains several strains of good yeast and bacteria and is high in probiotics which help restore balance to the gut. Probiotics are known as ‘friendly bacteria’ and can help ease symptoms of digestive discomfort and bloating in some.
While the benefits of probiotics are undisputed (probiotics are bacteria that add to the population of good bacteria in the digestive system), synbiotics – formulas that combine probiotics and prebiotics – are ones to watch. In addition to the work of the probiotics, prebiotics act as food for the probiotics, making the environment for them to thrive, even better. Workshop’s Probiotic + Prebiotic is one such formula and can be easily added to water or your daily smoothie.
Despite having a reputation as a bit of a trend, the gut-friendly benefits of bone broth are not to be overlooked. Used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory tonic, bone broth contains collagen, gelatin and gluthamine, all of which are excellent for maintaining optimum gut health. While gelatine help support a healthy gut lining which in turn supports health bowel movements, collagen is thought to nourish the intestinal lining. Gluthamine, an amino acid, is thought to help heal symptoms of leaky gut syndrome by preventing unwanted bacterial translocation amongst other things.
The daily recommended dose of fibre for adults a day is 30g, which not many of us achieve. While getting more fibre into your diet is easily done via plenty of vegetables, wholegrains and pulses, drinking more fibre is also another great option. Workshop’s Gut Cleansing Formula features a soluble and insoluble blend of 12 essential fibres and helps promote proper intestinal function and bowel movement.
Made when green tea and sugar are fermented together, kombucha is another great source of probiotics which can help maintain a good balance of bacteria in the gut. It also contains all the benefits of tea, so think antioxidant-rich polyphenols which are anti-inflammatory and promote good circulation. A couple of caveats that comes with this; some brands of kombucha contain as much as 28g of sugar, or the equivalent to 7 teaspoons of sugar, so always opt for the lowest sugar option you can find. And finally, because kombucha is carbonated it can cause bloating and gas in some people, so just be sure not to drink too much, too often.
Never underestimate the importance of water when it comes to keeping your gut in good shape. As well as keeping things moving, water balances the good bacteria in your gut, protects the intestines and keeps the mucosal lining of the gut healthy. If you’re dehydrated, it can also cause constipation; if you’re lacking in water, the large intestine will take it wherever it can be found, including in the food you eat. That means your stools will be harder and more painful to pass.