Sulfur Health for Gastrointestinal Problems
Sulfur is one of the most common minerals found in the body, and it is used for a variety of processes within the human body, from helping provide energy within the mitochondria of the cells to proper insulin functioning. This mineral helps proteins keep their shapes through sulfur bridges, so without this mineral, your proteins don’t function normally.
The good news is you can get sulfur from your diet; the bad news is most people don’t get enough sulfur from the foods they eat as they age. Sulfur is predominantly found in animal-based products, such as raw milk, as well as green, leafy vegetables, onions, and garlic. Unfortunately, as these foods are heated, the sulfur in them breaks down and is unusable. Enter methylsulfonylmethane, also known as MSM. While this supplement is found in natural foods, it can also be synthesized in a lab and is a helpful product for a variety of maladies.
Sulfur appears to have anti-inflammatory properties within the human body and is commonly used to treat joint issues and skin conditions. It may be incredibly useful in treating gastrointestinal problems that are a result of bacterial imbalances, or dysbiosis, in the gut. It is important to note that some people are sensitive to sulfur-containing compounds, so you should contact your doctor before you self-treat any conditions.
One of the ways sulfur helps in digestive health is mucus production. Without an adequate mucus layer in the gut, your gut becomes too permeable and increases the risk for allergies and sensitivities. Dubbed “leaky gut,” the intestines become thin and allow factors normally kept within the gut to leak out and go into the bloodstream, where they can cause allergen sensitivities. The mucus layer that sulfur helps produce can minimize that from occurring.
Some bacteria has the ability to turn sulfur into hydrogen sulfide, a foul smelling gas that reeks of rotten eggs. These bacteria include Streptococcus and Enterococcus species. When they turn the sulfur we need into hydrogen sulfide, it can wreck havoc on the body, including damaging intestinal lining cells. The goal is to minimize this dysbiosis because it results in a sulfur deficiency in the body. Treating with probiotics can help, as can prebiotics, so eating foods like Greek yogurt are recommended. Green tea may also be helpful in correcting a dysbiosis in the gut.
In the meantime, supplementing sulfur in the diet with MSM may help overcome some of the sulfur deficiency while you are correcting the gut imbalance. This will help your gut produce normal amounts of mucus to limit leaky gut problems, as well as promote normal protein function by allowing the protein molecules to be formed correctly. As many proteins are enzymes, this is important for a variety of body functions, including insulin regulation.
Sulfur is important to our overall gut health. When we have a dysbiosis of bacteria in the gut, sulfur may be turned into hydrogen sulfide in higher numbers, causing toxic gas buildup that can damage cells. Supplementing with MSM can provide readily bioavailable sulfur, while using antimicrobials and probiotics to correct the dysbiosis.