- Our gut is closely connected to many of our body’s systems, meaning that maintaining a healthy gut not only improves our digestive health but can also contribute to an improvement in overall health.
- Green vegetables contain fiber, micronutrients, phytonutrients and antioxidants which contribute to gut health by reducing inflammation, balancing gut bacteria and keeping food moving through the digestive tract.
- We look at the best greens powder for gut health that may contribute to the maintenance and support of a healthy digestive system.
We know more about our gut now than ever before, thanks to the recent boom in research into the gut microbiome.
This increased knowledge of our gut microbiome and its importance to our overall health has also led to an interest in gut health amongst the general population reaching new heights.
Throughout the start of 2023, you may have seen several viral videos about gut health with the hashtag #guttok trending on the popular app, TikTok.
Why Is Gut Health So Important?
The gut microbiome refers to the trillions of microorganisms in our digestive tract. Each of us has a unique microbiome with about 200 different species of bacteria, viruses, and fungi present. (Source)
The makeup of the gut microbiome is affected by many factors, such as: (Source)
- Antibiotic use
Within the microbiome, some microorganisms are beneficial to our health and other types of bacteria are harmful to our health.
The beneficial bacteria keep our gut working optimally by helping to digest our food properly, absorb nutrients and regulate inflammation.
If we have more harmful bacteria in our digestive tract than beneficial bacteria, this results in an imbalance called dysbiosis.
Dysbiosis can lead to digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, coeliac disease, and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), and has also been linked to non-gut related issues, including diabetes, arthritis, obesity, colorectal cancer, depression, and cardiovascular disease. (Source)(Source)
This is why it is important to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in our gut – not only for digestive health but for our overall health as well.
Do I Have An Unhealthy Gut?
Lifestyle factors are a big contributor to gut health. Our busy modern lifestyles can lead to certain habits that can be detrimental to gut health.
- Eating a Western diet high in processed, high-sugar high-fat foods
- Lack of sleep
- High-stress levels
- Overuse of antibiotics
Some common signs to look out for that indicate an unhealthy gut are:
1. Digestive Issues
Symptoms such as poor digestion, bloating, and stomach pain may stem from issues with bacteria in the gut not being able to break down foods in the way they should.
A balanced gut will have less difficulty processing food and eliminating waste, likely leading to less digestive discomfort.
2. Chronic Fatigue Or Insomnia
An imbalance in gut bacteria has been seen to be linked to fragmented sleep and short sleep duration, which may lead to chronic fatigue. (Source)
3. Unintentional Weight Fluctuation
An imbalanced gut can impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat, which in turn can lead to gaining or losing weight without any change in diet or exercise habits. (Source)
4. Irritability And Trouble Concentrating
As the gut microbiome and our brain are in constant communication with each other, an imbalance in our gut bacteria can affect the brain, leading to disturbances in mood and cognition. (Source)
5. Skin Issues
There is a strong connection between our skin and our gut, and so an unhealthy gut can be reflected in our skin. (Source)
One study found that foods that are associated with an imbalance of gut bacteria have also been seen to contribute to a variety of skin issues, including acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff. (Source)
6. Sugar Cravings
Certain microbes prefer certain types of foods. Some love carbohydrates, others grow best on dietary fiber or certain fats, and some prefer to feed on sugar.
There is a line of thinking that the more processed, sugary food we eat, the more the microorganisms that feed on those foods grow, increasing our cravings. (Source)
And a diet high in processed foods and added sugars can decrease the amount of “good” bacteria and diversity in the gut.
How Do Greens Contribute To Gut Health?
Our diet plays a huge role in the health of our gut. And so, making changes to our diet can have a huge impact on our gut health. (Source)
One dietary habit that can benefit our gut is eating more green veggies.
The fiber and various micronutrients and phytonutrients that are naturally found in green vegetables benefit our digestive health and help to balance our microbiome by:
Inflammation of the gut lining, which is commonly caused by dysbiosis in the gut, is the underlying cause of most of the issues associated with poor gut health. (Source)
A diet high in fruit and vegetables, including green vegetables, has been seen to reduce inflammation. (Source)
Many of the phytonutrients and antioxidants in green veg and other plants protect against cell damage and lower inflammation throughout the body.
Studies investigating the effect of dietary fiber on the body and the gut show that fiber also has anti-inflammatory properties. (Source)
As well as this, fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut, increasing the number of these bacteria and balancing dysbiosis. As dysbiosis is a common cause of intestinal inflammation, balancing dysbiosis can help to reduce inflammation.
Balancing Gut Bacteria
As mentioned, maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut is an essential element of both digestive health and overall health.
These beneficial bacteria in our guts feed on fiber, so the more fiber we eat, the more these good bugs flourish!
In particular, gut bacteria like a specific type of plant fiber called prebiotics, which can be found in green veg as well as other foods such as whole grains, legumes, bananas, onions, garlic, and soybeans.
Moving Food Through Rhe Digestive Tract
If you aren’t regularly eliminating waste, bacteria can build up in the gut.
If the bacteria are hanging out in the gut for a while, they have more time to ferment our food which can lead to digestive discomfort, bloating, and flatulence.
Fiber helps to keep food moving along the digestive tract and prevents constipation.
Can Green Powders Benefit Gut Health?
Even though we all know how good green veggies are for us, many of us still find it tough to include adequate amounts in our diets each day – life is busy, and maintaining healthy routines can be difficult.
This is why Human Tonik created the Supergreen Tonik, a high-quality greens powder.
Green powders are a food supplement made up of a variety of dried and powdered green vegetables that can be mixed into water or other liquids.
They often include a blend of greens such as kale, spinach, seaweeds, edible grasses and many add probiotics, digestive enzymes, herbal extracts, and fiber.
While consuming whole foods is always the preferred option, consuming a greens powder can increase the nutritional density of our diet, giving a quick and easy serving of these wonderful veggies in powder form each day.
Although there is very little research into the effects of green powders on gut health, one study investigating the effect of a greens powder on the microbiome of mice did find that supplementation with a greens supplement for 21 days resulted in a decrease in harmful bacteria in the gut in favour of an increase of beneficial bacteria. (Source)
Another study found that supplementation with a greens powder was effective in reducing oxidative damage in humans, through the antioxidant effects of the ingredients. (Source)
Greens powders may contribute to gut health due to the ingredients they contain being beneficial to the health of the digestive system.
I couldn’t believe how much better I felt after just a few days. Supergreen Tonik gets me going like nothing else!
What To Look For In A Greens Powder For Gut Health?
With so much choice when it comes to greens supplements and gut health supplements in general, it can be hard to weed out the fluff from the genuine high-quality products.
Here are some things that are important to consider when choosing a greens powder:
- The product is transparent with its ingredients and dosages
A lot of supplement companies mask the ingredients in their powder and the quantities of ingredients by labeling their products as proprietary blends.
This makes it very hard for the consumer to decipher what exactly is in the product.
By choosing a product that clearly displays each ingredient and its quantity, you know exactly what you are getting with each serving.
- The product does not contain added sugars or filling agents
Some brands may include added sugars to their powders to make them more palatable. High intake of sugars can negatively impact the health of the gut so it is best to opt for a product that uses a natural sweetener such as stevia or monk fruit instead.
There are also manufacturers that add filling agents to their products to bulk them up, without providing any nutritional benefit. Some of these fillers can be harmful to the digestive system, increasing inflammation and affecting the balance of gut bacteria. Another reason to always choose a product that lists all of its ingredients. (Source)
- The product is third-party tested
A major concern with greens powder supplements is their potential to contain heavy metals.
A greens powder that is third-party tested is sent to an outside organization that tests it to ensure it contains what the label says and does not contain unsafe amounts of heavy metals or other contaminants.
Look for third-party verifications that are certified by organizations such as NSF International, United States Pharmacopeia (USP), Eurofins, and ConsumerLab.
As well as this, be aware of products whose selling points focus heavily on ingredients such as probiotics and digestive enzymes. This is common in products promoting gut health in particular.
While probiotic supplementation has been seen to have beneficial effects on the gut microbiome and general health, probiotics as part of a greens powder may not be the best way of including them in your diet.
In order for probiotics to work, the bacteria need to be alive when they reach the gut. Very particular conditions are required to ensure that probiotic bacteria stay alive during manufacturing, processing, delivery, and storage. Most strains require protection from high temperatures, oxygen, light, and moisture.
If probiotics are accidentally exposed to the elements, in the way they would be in a greens powder, it is unlikely they will impart any considerable benefit.
When it comes to digestive enzymes, there is currently little evidence to show that there is value in adding plant-based digestive enzymes to products. (Source)
Is Supergreen Tonik A Good Option For Gut Health?
Human Tonik’s Supergreen Tonik is a high-quality greens powder, making it a good choice if you’re looking to try out a greens powder supplement.
Human Tonik powders never rely on proprietary blends. All ingredients are listed individually on the label with the amount per serving for each, giving people full transparency of the ingredients and dosages in each serving.
Supergreen Tonik is third-party tested to ensure it complies with safety regulations and is suitable for vegans as well as those following a keto or paleo diet.
The nutritional profile of Supergreen Tonik may increase the nutritional density of the diet and may contribute to gut health as it does contain ingredients that are supportive of digestive health.
- Variety of greens – provide antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Added fiber – feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut and prevents constipation.
- Chlorophyll – has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. (Source)
- Spirulina – may balance bacteria in the gut and reduce inflammation. (Source)
- Collard greens – contain sulforaphane which has been seen to have anti-inflammatory effects, balance gut bacteria and regulate bowel habits. (Source)
- Barley grass – improves gastrointestinal function. (Source)
- Dandelion – has been seen to be protective against gastrointestinal disorders. (Source)
- Black pepper fruit extract – may increase nutrient absorption and improve digestive function. (Source)
With gut health playing such a crucial role in our overall well-being, making an effort to look after our gut can really stand out to us.
Increasing our intake of green veg is definitely one important habit to adopt for supporting our digestive health.
Some other dietary changes we can make to improve our gut health include:
- Increasing our intake of probiotic foods such as probiotic yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and tempeh.
- Increasing our fiber intake by including more fruit, vegetable, whole grains, nuts, and legumes in our day-to-day diet.
- Reduce our intake of highly processed foods, refined grains, and high-sugar high-fat foods.
- Stay on top of our water intake.
There are certain non-diet lifestyle habits that can also contribute to gut health such as:
- Managing stress levels
- Getting enough sleep
- Get some exercise daily
- Limit alcohol intake
- Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily
If you’re interested in improving your gut health but these changes seem overwhelming, take things step by step by introducing changes one at a time and gradually working up to incorporating more of these habits into your routine as time goes on.
And if you fall back into less healthy routines, don’t worry. Just dust yourself off and try again. Your gut will thank you.
Lucy Brennan is a registered associate nutritionist (ANutr) and freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition and wellness content. She holds a BSc. (First Class Hons) in Public Health Nutrition and has over 4 years’ experience working in health communication, which is where her passion lies.
She has worked in roles with The Irish Food Board and FleishmanHillard PR, on their healthcare team, working with national and international health companies. Using this experience, Lucy now writes content in a freelance capacity. Lucy is dedicated to providing evidence-based content that is both engaging and accessible and inspires readers to make informed choices regarding their health.