NEWS

TikTok Is Obsessed With ‘Gut Healing.’ What Does That Even Mean?

tiktok gut health trends

Verywell Health / Hilary Allison

Key Takeaways

  • #Guttok influencers have attracted millions of viewers with their personal journey with gut health.
  • While some “hacks” like drinking aloe vera juice and olive oil can promote gut health, they don’t always achieve the same results for everyone.
  • Some TikTokers recommend cutting nutrient-dense foods like broccoli and beans to reduce bloating, which may be similar to what diet culture preaches, an expert said.

Gut health “hacks” have swept through TikTok with hashtags like #guthealth attracting over 1.2 billion views. But TikTok isn’t the only marker for this trend. In a 2021 survey by the International Food Information Council, nearly one in four people said digestive health is the important aspect of their overall health.

The gut microbiome is not still fully understood and a growing body of research has suggested that gut health is related to other components of health, like mental health and aging. TikTok’s more than one billion monthly users can find tons of advice on how to “heal their gut” with supplements or grocery store staples like olive oil and bone broth.

Many #guttok influencers highlight symptoms like bloating, brain fog, and low energy when referencing their own gut health journeys. And these personal, relatable videos are what attract viewers, according to Jenna Sherman, MPH, a researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a program manager of the Digital Health Lab at a technology nonprofit called Meedan.

“There’s a lot of mistrust in the scientific community right now that’s been building up and has been aggravated by the pandemic,” Sherman told Verywell in an email.

In addition to the skepticism toward health professionals, many people have no access to a healthcare provider, she added. “As a result, people want to turn to peers or individuals that they look up to for advice and perspective, and tend to trust that more because they feel that person can relate to them and therefore has their best interest in mind,” Sherman said.

What Does ‘Gut Healing’ Mean?

While “gut healing” tips are all over the Internet, it can be difficult to define what this really means. There isn’t a straightforward definition and, depending on the source, “healing your gut” can mean anything from supporting good bacteria growth to treating a leaky gut and reducing bloating.

However, it’s a misconception that your gut even needs help to heal, said Amanda Sauceda, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and gut health nutritionist. “Digestive symptoms like burping, bloating, constipation are normal from time to time,” she told Verywell in an email.

The trendy term “gut healing” may scare people into thinking that their gut health is “terrible” when that’s not necessarily the case, according to Lauren Pimentel, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian with The Cake Nutritionist.

Pimentel said that certain TikTok trends, like drinking aloe vera juice or olive oil, could be incorporated into a nutritious diet because these promote good bacteria growth, but some people could feel nauseated from drinking olive oil.

“Often, people will go overboard trying to make healthy changes to improve their bodies and end up feeling worse. Don’t try 100 remedies at once. Make one small change at a time and see how your body feels,” she said.

Gut Health Trends and Diet Culture

In addition to promoting “gut healing,” many gut health videos on TikTok seem to share a fixation on body image. A video from TikTok user @madison.paigge started with the phrase “key to my gut health journey” appearing in front of a picture of her bloated stomach. Then she showed another image of her flat stomach, suggesting that healing her gut with the help of ginger juice offered these results.

Other TikTok users recommend cutting out nutrient-dense foods like broccoli, beans, onions, and asparagus from your diet to reduce bloating.

“A lot of gut healing ‘advice’ falls into restriction which is very similar to what diet culture preaches.” Sauceda said. “The thing is restriction like an elimination diet can be part of a gut healing protocol but there also needs to be reintroduction. A healthy gut thrives on a diverse diet.”

For the 60–70 million Americans affected by digestive diseases, the current spotlight on gut health may feel validating. While many influencers offer a disclaimer that they’re not a doctor and they’re just sharing “what worked for them,” they often fail to mention the rest of their dietary and lifestyle factors that helped improve their overall health.

“Your gut is unique,” Sauceda said. “No one will have the same digestion, microbiome, or gut feelings as you therefore your gut-friendly foods and lifestyle will be unique as well.”

What This Means For You

TikTok added an “unverified content” warning in 2021 but some experts say that this policy doesn’t extend far enough and misses some public health claims. If you turn to TikTok for gut health hacks, consider who made the video first. It is possible to find credible doctors, dietitians, and public health experts on TikTok. However, if you believe you have a digestive issue that needs to be addressed, consider speaking with your own healthcare provider to find an individualized solution.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. International Food Information Council. IFIC survey: consumer insights on gut health and probiotics.

  2. Wilmanski T, Diener C, Rappaport N, et al. Gut microbiome pattern reflects healthy ageing and predicts survival in humansNat Metab. 2021;3(2):274-286. doi:10.1038/s42255-021-00348-0

  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Digestive diseases statistics for the United States.