The 12 Best Supplements For Optimal Gut Health, From A Nutrition PhD*
If there's one thing that's consistently top-of-mind for us here at mbg, it's gut health. Maintaining a balanced, happy gut microbiome is essential for having regular bowel movements and enjoying comfortable digestion. But it also informs your ability to absorb nutrients properly—really, it plays a huge role in your overall well-being. The long and short of it: Gut health is key.
And while your diet and exercise habits play a role in the state of your gut, there are additional things you can integrate into your daily routine that may elevate your gut microbiome and help you feel your best. Exhibit A: supplements. From probiotics to postbiotics and everything in between, the options are endless (and perhaps a bit overwhelming) when it comes to choosing your best gut-friendly fit.
However, it is important to select a targeted supplement with your gut in mind. "If you're looking to elevate and diversify your gut microbiome, a targeted probiotic rooted in science is not only prudent, it's indicated,"* nutrition scientist and mbg's vice president of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, previously told mbg.
Having a little trouble selecting your best fit? That's where we come in.
Benefits of gut health supplements.
The benefits of a gut health supplement are not to be understated, and everything from collagen to probiotics, fiber, and turmeric supplements have been scientifically shown to support a variety of pivotal gut health needs and functions, from literally feeding the microbes in your gut to promoting gut motility (to keep things moving along), easing bloat, and more.* Essentially, when you care for your gut health, the rest of the body will follow suit and reap the benefits.
The most important thing when it comes to supplementation, however, is consistency. "A lot of times, people think that they only need probiotics sometimes, but in fact, many of us would benefit from a daily, regular, and sustainable supply of targeted probiotics," Ferira explains in a recent mbg TikTok.
Some of the top-line benefits of caring for your gut are:*
- Promote gut microbe abundance and diversity
- Protect the integrity of the gut lining
- Bloat and gas reduction
- Improved digestion
- Regular and healthy bowel movements
- Better nutrient absorption
- Appetite and weight regulation
Ingredients to look for.
Since there are many unique nutrients, botanicals, and bioactives that can support your gut health, here's your guide to cutting through some of the noise and getting to the nitty-gritty. Selecting a supplement with ingredients that can actually support not only your gut microbiome but ultimately help with an array of daily GI functions (i.e., digestion, absorption, detoxification, and more) is essential—and there are a number of things to keep an eye out for.
However, it all comes back to what your specific body needs because everyone is unique. "Prebiotic, probiotic, and postbiotic ingredients all have a place as targeted gut health solutions," notes Ferira.
In a probiotic:
When selecting a probiotic, there are several strains you'll want to see in your supplement. "Look for specific strains from the Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Bacillus genera," suggests Ferira. "You'll want to consider what each strain has been clinically researched for and ensure the CFU dose equals or exceeds that dose for efficacy reasons."
In a functional fiber:
For functional fibers (especially the prebiotic variety), "look for a wonderful array of plants like flaxseed, agave, kiwifruit, guar bean fiber, mushrooms, chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, prunes, apple pectin, and more," adds Ferira.
In other bioactives:
Outside of pre- and probiotics, there are other unique ingredients that can benefit your gut health. "Other bioactives may include collagen peptides, key amino acids like glutamine, as well as an array of nutrients and actives that deliver antioxidant power and promote a healthy inflammatory response like vitamins C and E, turmeric, ginger, etc. Digestive enzymes, various herbs, and targeted postbiotic short-chain fatty-acid ingredients like tributyrin might also be useful to some individuals," Ferira explains.
Of course there are always going to be ingredients to avoid, as well, and Ferira notes that list includes artificial flavors and sweeteners; synthetic dyes and opacity agents like titanium dioxide, corn syrup, added sugars; and chemical preservatives (to name a few).
Ferira has some pretty strict criteria when it comes to choosing a great, high-quality supplement worthy of your body (after all, this is your gut we're talking about!), and this is what she looks for when selecting products that deserve to be in your gut health supplement lineup.
How we picked:
From supporting a healthy gut microbiome and the integrity of our intestinal lining to promoting digestion and regularity, these supplement formulas cover an impressive range of GI tract functions and targeted needs.*
We prioritize targeted bioactives and high-quality botanicals in efficacious doses with prebiotic, probiotic, and postbiotic actions in the body. Our product lineup elevates formulas that are plant-centric wherever possible.
Since the point is to support your gut (not bother it), we carefully critiqued and curated supplements with premium active ingredients and the fewest number of "other ingredients" since less is more on that front.
Since your gut should be approached with the utmost care, we selected products from brands that prioritize analytical quality testing to ensure the purity and potency of each product in their portfolio.
mbg's picks for best gut health supplement of 2022:
Best probiotic: mindbodygreen probiotic+
- Gut-centric probiotics in 1 capsule
- Eases bloat & aids digestion*
- No refrigeration needed
- Daily regimen to maximize benefits
Designed with four targeted, clinically researched probiotic strains to help support comfortable digestion, regular bowel movements, and even nutrient absorption, probiotic+ gives your gut that essential daily support it needs to feel its best without pesky bloating. All in one easy capsule, not only will it elevate your gut microbiome, but this shelf-stable supplement is uniquely crafted to keep your insides happy for a more balanced body.*
- Pre-pro-postbiotic trio
- No refrigeration needed
- Synbiotic support*
- Tree nut allergen (coconut oil)
- Plastic packaging
For a prebiotic, probiotic, and postbiotic formula, this vegan, gluten-free supplement is the perfect choice. Containing 11 billion CFUs from two of the world's most clinically studied probiotic strains (LGG® & BB-12®), this supplement from Ritual will help to fight bloat and promote nutrient absorption and comfort in the gut. Also supporting gut barrier health, this single capsule supplement streamlines the process of prioritizing your body, designed to make it all the way to the colon, where the probiotics can thrive.*
Best for digestion: Pure Synergy Enzyme Power™
- Comprehensive digestive enzyme array
- 1-capsule serving size
- Not suitable for vegans
Prioritizing digestive comfort is essential, and for this, digestive enzymes can come in handy. This potent and plant-based supplement supports healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, allowing you to feel great after eating while working toward a more balanced gut microbiome. An added bonus? This impressive array of digestive enzymes features a full spectrum of support for the carbs, protein, fat, and fiber you eat.*
Best prebiotic for regularity: Bulletproof Innerfuel Prebiotic
- Plant-sourced prebiotics
- Rich source of fiber
- Zero sugar
- Plastic container
- Have to ease into full dose over time
One of the telltale signs of a healthy gut and body is regular bowel movements, so selecting a supplement that will help support this function can make a world of difference in your digestive comfort. This prebiotic blend (from acacia, guar beans, and the larch tree) from Bulletproof provides a rich source of daily fiber to feed the good gut bacteria to keep your GI tract feeling great, not to mention it's an unflavored powder so it will easily mix into really any drink to give your body a boost without affecting taste. Plus, it's made with clinically backed ingredients to help keep you full for longer and get things moving.*
Best collagen for gut health: mindbodygreen beauty & gut collagen+
- Grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine collagen
- Includes antioxidants, botanicals & bioactives
- Features glutamine & hyaluronic acid
- Not vegan (but collagen cannot be vegan ever)
When you think of collagen, you likely think of the hair and skin benefits before anything else, but did you know that these functional peptides can also help support a healthy gut? Available in unflavored and chocolate varieties, mbg's beauty & gut collagen+ is specifically formulated with 17.7 grams of collagen peptides, plus hyaluronic acid, vitamins C and E, biotin, L-glutamine, turmeric, and sulforaphane glucosinolate from broccoli to offer inside-out support that will not only benefit your intestinal lining but also keep your skin, hair, and nails glowing as well. Win-win!*
Best for weight management: Pure Encapsulations PureLean® Fiber
- Excellent source of fiber
- Soluble & insoluble fibers
- No artificial sweeteners or colors
- Sugar alcohols (may cause GI issues in some)
- Plastic container
Caring for your gut health can also help to support a healthy weight, and this blend of soluble and insoluble fibers from plant sources like guar beans, flaxseeds, prunes, apples, and more is a great way to support digestive regularity and complement a balanced and nutritious diet. Each serving provides 6 grams of fiber (with 3.5 of those grams being soluble and around 3 grams of insoluble) that can help to slow the rate of digestion, increase satiety, and promote nutrient absorption.*
Best for colon health: Gaia Herbs Microbiome Cleanse
- Certified B Corp
- Unique herbal blend
- Tree nut allergen (black walnut)
- Designed for short-term use
Formulated with your gut microbiome and colon in mind, this supplement aims to balance the GI tract and support overall healthy digestion so you can feel your best.* These vegan capsules from Gaia Herbs should only be used in the short term (i.e., for a maximum of six weeks) and contain high-quality herbal extracts like black walnut, wormwood, oregano, peppermint, and more, ingredients to offer essential digestive assistance to the body (but not for those who are pregnant or lactating).*
Best postbiotic: Designs for Health Tri-Butyrin Supreme™
- Targeted butyrate SCFA
- Gut, colon & immune support*
- Not suitable for vegans/vegetarians (bovine gelatin)
- MCT source unclear
Looking for a high-quality postbiotic? This supplement contains butyrate, a beneficial short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that may aid in the maintenance of intestinal flora while promoting colon health. Designed to make it through the upper GI tract without degrading so it can arrive in the colon, this single active ingredient supplement helps support regular bowel movements. With such focused postbiotics, you know you're doing good for your gut.*
Best gut health bundle: mindbodygreen gut health bundle+
- Prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes
- Holistic gut microbiome support*
- Helps optimize digestive health*
- Daily regimen to maximize benefits
Sometimes you just want a convenient and effective bundle of supplements that will support your gut health without an extra thought, and for this, mbg's gut health bundle+ is fit for the job. Featuring probiotic+ with four targeted strains selected to help with bloating, digestive comfort, and regular bowel movements, the bundle also includes organic veggies+ for adding prebiotic fibers, digestive enzymes, probiotics, herbs, veggies, and more via one simple spoonful to any smoothie or meal (did we mention this unique blend is USDA-certified organic?).*
This versatile duo is what your body has been calling for, populating your gut microbiome with healthy bacteria to give your digestive system what it needs to thrive. "When this robust synbiotic duo is used consistently, it delivers a gut reset and over time, deeply nourishes multiple dimensions of GI health and digestive balance," Ferira notes.*
Best for gut barrier function: Seeking Health Optimal GI
- Nutrient & herbal blend
- Unique botanical extracts
- 5-capsule serving
- Plastic bottle
Keeping your gut barrier function in mind (i.e., the integrity of your intestinal lining), this targeted herb and nutrient blend helps to support overall gut health and digestion, simultaneously aiding in bowel motility. With a diverse array of ingredients from zinc, MSM, and citrus fiber, and an array of botanicals like licorice, aloe vera, slippery elm, milk thistle, cat's claw, and more (after all, it's a hefty 5-capsule serving size), your GI tract will thank you for giving your gut some love.*
Best for inflammatory response: mindbodygreen turmeric potency+
- Turmeric-ginger-piperine trio
- Full-spectrum turmeric & ginger extracts
- Superior bioavailability
- Daily regimen to maximize benefits
Targeting the inflammatory response in the body (including your gut) is another great way to improve digestive comfort and health. Leveraging cutting-edge absorption technology, the full-spectrum turmeric root extract provided by mbg's turmeric potency+ is clinically shown to promote a healthy inflammatory response to support whole-body health. Synergized by full-spectrum ginger root extract and black pepper fruit (hello, piperine) to enhance digestive support and antioxidant resilience, your gut health will benefit from the optimized bioavailability and bioefficacy of this ultra-potent herbal trio powerhouse supplement.*
Best for kids: Garden of Life Probiotics Kids
- Certified B Corp
- Pre- & probiotics
- Digestive & immune support*
- Plastic bottle
- 20 calories
Getting your kids to take their supplements is no small task, but these tasty probiotic gummies make it that much easier to get the job done. With a blend of 5 billion CFUs probiotics of four Bacillus probiotic strains to support digestive health, as well as fructooligosaccharide (FOS) prebiotics to help with the growth of good bacteria, these naturally flavored (strawberry) and colored (black carrot, so cool!) pectin gummies are fit to support your little ones' gut health with less than 1 gram of sugar per serving, plus a good source of fiber, in each serving (two gummies).*
Do gut health supplements work?
The long and short of it is: Yes, a thoughtfully formulated, targeted gut health supplement does work. So what do those classifications mean? "Thoughtful means these formulas are typified by science-backed doses of active ingredients, a clean excipient profile, and a tendency toward plants and botanicals," Ferira explains. "Targeted means that the supplement is designed in a way to home in on a specific gut health support function."
Put simply, if your area of focus is gas and bloating, a targeted strain of probiotic can help those issues when taken consistently.* And then there's poop: "If a person wants to infuse more fiber into their life (something all of us should strive for) to help with regularity, then a supplement that provides several grams of dietary fiber can promote healthy bowel movements when taken routinely,"* she adds.
The benefits of a gut health supplement are wide-reaching as we're working to support an active and quite large organ with a number of important functions. Among these benefits are supporting gas and bloating, helping promote regular bowel movements, maintaining the integrity of your intestinal lining, and even simply allowing your belly to feel more comfortable.*
Knowing the potential side effects of any given supplement can make it easier to select your best option, especially when it comes to your gut health. "Some people report minor GI side effects when easing into a new prebiotic or probiotic routine. Things like slight stomach discomfort, gas, or increased bowel movement frequency can occur," notes Ferira. "Of course, for some, the latter 'side effect' is exactly what they were seeking in the first place (i.e., regularity)."
That being said, it's common for the gut to need to adjust when adding in more fiber, so be patient with your body, and check in with a healthcare professional if you want a more personalized route.
"While gut health supplements (e.g., fiber, probiotics, botanicals, and other bioactives) from high-quality brands are safe—any pregnant or lactating individual, or folks with other specific health considerations, should partner with a doctor to personalize their supplement regimen," she adds.
Best time to take gut health supplements
There's a good chance that the supplement you've purchased will already provide instructions as to the best time to take it, but it's also important to be realistic about what time you'll be able to make this routine stick most effectively.
"Some probiotics are better to take before a meal, when stomach acid levels are lower, but that is still an area of active scientific research," explains Ferira. "If you're taking a fiber supplement that helps with laxation, some people might not take that right before bedtime, while others might find it's totally fine to do so."*
Once again, your gut health supplement of choice will likely have instructions for the dosage, but this all boils down to science. "The dose of each ingredient is specific to the science and intended support area for that ingredient. For example, probiotics are studied at the strain level, so the CFU amount (often 1 billion or more) should echo that researched dose to be effective," says Ferira.
If fiber is your supplement of choice, Ferira explains that it's a good idea to look for an option that "offers 3 grams or more of functional fibers in order to support bowel movements in a meaningful way."* Remember, if a product is simply "sprinkling" in ingredients, they're likely not going to do much.
Taking a holistic approach to wellness is the best way to ensure that your body is getting everything it needs to feel its best, and prioritizing gut health every day is a huge piece of that well-being puzzle. Your diet and lifestyle can only take you so far—thanks to science innovation, leveraging targeted gut health supplements can help bring your GI tract and overall well-being to the next level.*
Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career, and formerly worked at SheFinds. Her byline has also appeared in Women’s Health. In her current role, she writes and edits for the health, movement, and food sections of mindbodygreen. Readman currently lives in New York City.