Fact vs. Fiction: 6 Gut Health Myths Debunked
by Jelena Vulevic on Apr 19, 2023
Previously a subject mostly discussed by medical professionals, gut health has increasingly become a concern for the general public in recent years, with more and more people recognising the significant role it plays in overall health and well-being. However, as interest grows, so does the amount of misinformation around the topic, making it a lot harder for non-experts to tell fact from fiction.
To help you pick the best solutions for your needs, in this article, we will debunk six common gut-related myths and uncover the truth behind some of the most popular digestive health claims circulating online. By the end, you will have a much better understanding of why gut health matters and how to effectively improve yours.
Why gut health is so important
Several studies have, over the years, demonstrated how the state of our digestive health affects much more than just digestion and nutrient absorption, impacting nearly every aspect of our physical and mental well-being.
Often called the “second brain” for its ability to operate independently from the central nervous system, the GI tract directly interacts with other organs through intricate bilateral connections such as the gut-skin axis, the gut-brain axis, and the heart-gut axis, by which it can influence many seemingly unrelated bodily functions.
From rosacea and fine lines to brain fog and depression, everything that goes on within your digestive system can translate into symptoms throughout the body, either supporting or completely hindering your best efforts towards better overall health.
Debunking 6 Common Myths About Gut Health
So, without further ado, here are some popular misconceptions about gut health which you should know about to avoid spending more time and money on products, treatments and diets that simply won’t deliver.
Myth 1: A healthy gut microbiota means good digestive health
A thriving gut microbiota is certainly critical to enjoying the best digestive health of your life, but a healthy microbiome alone cannot do the job. What many people don’t understand is that the trillions of microorganisms that participate in the array of processes happening within our gut, actually require an optimal environment to do a good job. This means that, among other variables, the outcomes of our microbiota’s performance depend on how the host (our organism) responds to what they do. So, if you notice signs of an unhealthy gut, you may want to assess a whole range of aspects like diet, stress levels, sleep and lifestyle to actually create the ideal conditions for good bacteria to work.
Myth 2: Food intolerance tests will diagnose gut issues
Although there are tests you can take to help identify food intolerances, they do not work in a way which would allow a diagnosis of gut health conditions. Most of these tests are designed to identify how the body reacts to substances contained in certain foods and indicate that they could be the trigger behind symptoms like constipation, bloating and diarrhoea. To get a proper diagnosis, and suitable line of treatment for any gut-related condition, you should always refer to a medical professional, such as your GP or a gastroenterologist.
Myth 3: Regularly doing a colonic or juice cleanse can improve gut health and help you lose weight
Undergoing a juice or colonic cleanse, regularly or otherwise, will not do much in the way of supporting good digestive health, and can in fact be dangerous for you. Although the brands behind such treatments would have you believe that they can wash all toxins away from the body and even aid in weight loss, there is no scientific evidence that they are actually able to do so. Any weight loss during a juice cleanse, for example, is simply a result of lower calorie intake, which a proper balanced diet can also do, and in a much more sustainable way. As for the toxins, your body is designed to deal with and eliminate harmful substances through its natural processes, so, as long as you are healthy, this will already be taken care of.
Myth 4: A gluten-free diet will help your digestive system work better
Unless you have been diagnosed with a medical condition such as celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free diet is not necessary and won't actually help you improve your gut health.
As a matter of fact, adhering to a gluten-free diet when you don't need to might not be very good for both your body and your wallet. Studies have shown that, in addition to a higher price tag when compared to regular products, gluten-free goods have higher amounts of salt, saturated fat and carbohydrates, and less protein and fibre, making them less nutritious options. Moreover, in many products, gluten will be replaced with substances like xanthan and guar gum, both of which can sometimes trigger uncomfortable digestive symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, flatulence and bloating.
Myth 5: Taking probiotics is all you need for a healthy GI tract
As similarly explained in the first item of this list, probiotics cannot single-handedly do away with your digestive issues. Your GI tract demands a set of favourable conditions to operate at an optimal level, including the presence of probiotics, but not limited to it.
In addition to the famous probiotics, which are live microorganisms responsible for performing several key processes within the gut, a good intake of prebiotics and postbiotics is essential. In simple terms, prebiotics are the fuel for probiotics to produce postbiotics, and postbiotics are dead microbes and/or parts of dead microbes and their metabolites, which also deliver important gut health benefits. It is the combination of these elements, in adequate amounts, that can in fact deliver the results you expect, along with a balanced diet and lifestyle.
Myth 6: All fermented foods are equally beneficial in bringing your gut back to health
Although fermented goods are certainly among the best gut health foods one can consume, not all of them can benefit you on the same level.
To make the most out of your fermented ingredients, you should pick those stored in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, as opposed to the ones displayed on regular shelves. Cold temperatures work best for keeping the probiotic microorganisms within fermented foods alive and well to eventually work hard on improving your digestive function. In turn, pasteurised fermented goods will end up losing some of their gut-boosting potential due to the high temperatures involved in the process.
Gut-health products and treatments: how to tell real from fake
Since misinformation can actually turn a profit if you consider how many people end up buying products based on wildly unrealistic claims, finding the ideal solutions for your digestive concerns will most likely be a real challenge. However, there are a few strategies which you can adopt to increase your chances of success.
First of all, we recommend that you get a bit more familiar with the science behind gut-health products, especially regarding the subject of biotics, and how they work. Secondly, take time to carefully read the label and description of any product or treatment before purchasing. When trying to find the best gut health supplement, for example, look for those prebiotic, probiotic and postbiotic elements we've mentioned, as well as for well-researched gut-boosting bacteria such as bifidobacteria. High-quality gut-health solutions, such as Y GUT sensitive, should also always be backed by science, and if you have trouble finding the scientific research involved in how a product or treatment was developed, it's probably not worth your money. Finally, the golden rule for distinguishing real benefit claims from fake ones is simple: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Hopefully, at this point, you feel a lot better equipped to navigate the market in search of the ideal solutions for your gut health concerns, but always remember to turn to your doctor first. Especially if you plan on making drastic changes to your eating habits and lifestyle, or before undergoing invasive treatments. Steer clear from products or procedures with radical benefit claims, which not only seem a little too magical to be true but also don't mention how a balanced diet, good sleeping habits and other healthy lifestyle choices are required to achieve tangible results.
We’re here to help you better understand how gut health affects your overall health and find ways to improve it. Discover how Y GUT sensitive works and if it's right for you.