By: Kimberly Rodrigues
Over the years experts have emphasised the significance of a healthy gut. This goes beyond ensuring proper digestion and extends to promoting overall health and bolstering the body’s immunity.
Good gut health is crucial because it impacts the overall health and functioning of the body. When digestion, absorption, and elimination in the gut are compromised, other parts of the body may be adversely affected.
The term gut health refers to the balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria in the digestive system and its functioning. Stress and an unhealthy diet can disrupt this balance. Probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria, can restore this balance.
According to Shweta Shah, a well-known nutritionist, and founder of Eatfit24/7, the presence of both beneficial and harmful bacteria in the gut is a determining factor of a person’s health.
“Having more good bacteria over bad helps the body fight off diseases. A healthy gut can digest, and absorb all the beneficial nutrients from food and excrete the unwanted residue,” she told The Indian Express.
Although adopting a healthy lifestyle is paramount, incorporating specific herbs into one’s diet can also reportedly improve gut-related problems and enhance its overall performance.
A nutritionist, Lovneet Batra, states that in case of impaired digestive health, “your body loses its ability to utilise nutrients and unlock energy.”
To help in maintaining optimal gut health, the expert also recommends certain foods that facilitate and strengthen digestion.
So, here are five natural herbs that can enhance gut health:
Triphala is a combination of three herbs, namely amla (Indian gooseberry), bibhitaki, and haritaki. Haritaki helps maintain a healthy bowel movement and gut health, bibhitaki is a mild laxative and translates to “fearless of disease,” and amla balances stomach acid levels and makes the gut alkaline.
According to the site Onlymyhealth, Triphala is a natural and effective method to improve digestion and bowel movement. It is typically taken at night before bedtime and can be consumed with hot water. This herb is reportedly a common ingredient in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and can be a potent remedy for leaky gut, as it enhances nutrient absorption and improves gut function.
Additionally, Triphala is rich in essential nutrients and antioxidants and can alleviate gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, constipation, and abdominal pain.
Licorice root is another herb frequently used for promoting gut health. It can help alleviate irritation by forming a protective coating over the membrane lining and reducing inflammation. Studies have revealed that licorice root contains plant compounds that can relieve stomach discomfort and irritation.
Furthermore, licorice root has been found to possess antibacterial properties that can eliminate harmful gut bacteria, which may contribute to peptic ulcers.
Licorice is a prevalent dietary herb that aids digestion and soothes the stomach. Its high glycyrrhizin content helps maintain stomach acid balance for comfort and relief by supporting a healthy inflammatory response.
“Licorice root is a traditional herb which is the best probiotic for leaky gut syndrome,” Shah said.
Mint contains menthol, which can relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by relaxing the muscles in the digestive tract. As per Shah, mint is a useful herb for treating indigestion and an upset stomach.
IBS is a common digestive disorder that causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and changes in bowel habits.
While dietary modifications and medications are common treatments for IBS, research suggests that using peppermint oil as an herbal remedy can be beneficial, a previous report in Healthline informs.
Mint is also reportedly helpful in relieving other digestive issues, such as indigestion and upset stomach. Indigestion occurs when food stays in the stomach for an extended period before moving into the rest of the digestive tract.
Several studies have reportedly shown that taking peppermint oil with meals can hasten the movement of food through the stomach, potentially relieving symptoms of this type of indigestion.
The compounds gingerols and shogaols in ginger can stimulate contractions and empty of the stomach, which may help alleviate symptoms of nausea, cramping, bloating gas, or indigestion.
“It’s not just delicious. Gingerol, a natural component of ginger root, benefits gastrointestinal motility ― the rate at which food exits the stomach and continues along the digestive process. Eating ginger encourages efficient digestion, so food doesn’t linger as long in the gut,” said Emma Slattery, a clinical dietitian at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
In addition to its topical uses, aloe vera can also be ingested and may have beneficial effects on the gut.
This herb is recognised as a natural laxative due to the presence of compounds and plant mucilage in the inner part of the aloe leaf. It can also have topical benefits in alleviating inflammation in the digestive tract.
“Aloe vera is full of fibres and gives relief from problems like constipation,” Shah said.
Additionally, aloe vera juice contains anthraquinone glycosides, which are plant compounds that have laxative effects that may alleviate constipation. However, research on this topic is reportedly outdated, and it is unclear whether using aloe vera juice to treat constipation is safe, Healthline informs.
Furthermore, early research indicates that aloe vera syrup may be effective in treating and alleviating symptoms of the digestive disorder called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Additionally, there is promising research on using aloe vera extract to treat IBS.