The health of your digestive system is essential to ensure proper digestion and absorption of nutrients, as well as to support the function of other body systems, such as the immune system. The health of the gastrointestinal system, particularly the gut microbiota, even impacts mental health through its connection with the central nervous system, often referred to as the gut-brain axis. The digestive system is made up of digestive and accessory organs, including the stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), pancreas, liver, and gallbladder, as well as various chemical compounds, such as hormones, stomach acid, bile, and digestive enzymes. The gut microbiota, a community of live microorganisms found in high concentrations in the colon, are also essential to digestion and gut health. Several lifestyle choices, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, managing stress, and supporting your health with dietary supplements, can help you maintain digestive wellness.
The following are some of the top ingredients I recommend for digestive health.
Probiotics are fermented food products or dietary supplements that contain beneficial microbes, including bacteria, bacterial spores, or fungi (yeasts). When consumed, they offer health benefits to the host, both by colonizing the gastrointestinal tract and by transient activity when passing through the body. Probiotics have been studied for their therapeutic benefits in a number of health conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), autoimmune diseases, obesity, and mental-emotional disorders. The health benefits of probiotics can vary significantly depending on the specific strain or strains included.
My favorite probiotic is Ther-Biotic® Factor 6. Ther-Biotic® Factor 6 is an ultra-high-strength, hypoallergenic blend of 6 certified probiotic species formulated to provide 100 billion CFUs in a single capsule. It provides 3 Lactobacillus and 3 Bifidobacterium species that have been clinically shown to support gastrointestinal health in populations at high risk for occasional diarrhea and compromised gut barrier function. Each species was selected to provide maximal support for important colonic short-chain fatty acid concentrations through a process termed metabolic cross-feeding and for documented abilities to antagonize a wide variety of undesirable microorganisms. In an unpublished study, Ther-Biotic® Factor 6 was used in renal transplant patients and found to provide well-tolerated gastrointestinal support. Ther-Biotic® Factor 6 is recommended for men and women who want to support their gastrointestinal health. Each high-strength, vegetarian capsule provides 100 billion CFUs of freeze-dried probiotic cultures provided in a base of purified plant cellulose. InTactic® technology protects probiotic bacteria from destruction by gastric acid.
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Enzymes are substances that increase the rate of chemical reactions in the body (catalysts). Specifically, digestive enzymes are secreted by the digestive tract to aid in digesting fats, proteins, and carbohydrates consumed through the diet. Enzyme supplementation may be beneficial for individuals with food sensitivities, such as lactose intolerance, and certain gastrointestinal disorders. Enzyme supplements may include a variety of enzymes from different sources, such as pancreatic enzymes (e.g., porcine or bovine sources), plant-based enzymes (e.g., bromelain from pineapple, papain from papaya), and microbe-derived enzymes. Each enzyme breaks down a specific component of food. For example, lipase aids in the digestion of lipids, and protease aids in the digestion of proteins.
Digestive Enzymes Ultra
Digestive Enzymes Ultra contains a high-strength mixture of vegetarian enzymes developed to promote optimal nutrient bioavailability and absorption. Digestive Enzymes Ultra supports enhanced protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber, and dairy digestion.
- Blend of vegetarian digestive enzymes to support digestion
- Promotes enhanced nutrient bioavailability and absorption
- Made with hypoallergenic, vegetarian ingredients
Digestive Enzymes Ultra contains an all-encompassing profile of vegetarian digestive enzymes. Proteases included in this formula provide optimal activity across a wide pH range. They facilitate the normal breakdown of proteins and di- and tri-peptides. Lipase promotes lipid breakdown while amylase and glucoamylase are included to stimulate polysaccharide breakdown of starch and glycogen. Invertase and lactase support the digestion of carbohydrate disaccharides, including the dairy sugar lactose. This formula also offers numerous enzymes to support fiber breakdown, including cellulase, hemicellulase, beta-glucanase, and phytase. These enzymes act to break down cell wall components and phytic acid, promoting nutrient bioavailability of fiber-containing foods. Additionally, alpha-galactosidase promotes the breakdown of certain complex carbohydrates, such as raffinose and stachyose, found in some vegetables, grains, and legumes–helping to relieve occasional bloating or gas.
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Fiber is an umbrella term for the carbohydrates found in plant foods that resist digestion Fiber is an umbrella term for the carbohydrates found in plant foods that resist digestion and absorption in the human small intestine. High-fiber foods include vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
The two main forms of fiber are soluble fibers, which dissolve in water and slow transit time in the human digestive tract, and insoluble fibers, which do not dissolve in water, speed transit time in the human digestive tract, and increase fecal bulk. In addition to supporting digestion, research has shown that a high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity.
Prebiotics, one type of soluble fiber, possess unique characteristics and health effects. Prebiotics act as a source of fuel for beneficial microbes, promoting a healthy microbial profile, and providing a number of associated health benefits. Research is increasingly confirming the numerous health benefits of prebiotics.
L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body and is used as a substrate (material) by the small and large intestines for energy production. L-glutamine also plays a role in liver cell reproduction and energy metabolism in the liver. L-glutamine supplementation may reduce intestinal cell death that normally occurs with exposure to stress, such as intense heat and exercise. It may also benefit individuals with certain digestive conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and short bowel syndrome.
l-Glutamine naturally supports the mucosal lining and healthy functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. l-Glutamine also helps promote and preserve lean muscle mass.
- Supports gastrointestinal tract
- Helps maintain intestinal integrity
l-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. In times of metabolic stress, glutamine is utilized by the body for tissue repair, gastrointestinal tract support, and natural defense system function. Glutamine plays a large role in maintaining healthy intestinal integrity by enhancing the intestines’ protective mucosal lining. In addition, glutamine is important in the preservation of muscle mass.
Research has shown that the health benefits of L-glutamine may be attributed to its ability to modulate inflammation, protect against cellular stress and death, and regulate the reproduction of intestinal cells.
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Licorice is a medicinal herb grown in parts of Greece, Turkey, and Asia. The plant’s roots have laxative, antimicrobial, demulcent, antioxidant, and liver-protecting properties. An extract of licorice root, known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), is used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases, peptic ulcers, and gastric ulcers. DGL supplementation may also help improve symptoms of indigestion, such as heartburn, belching, bloating, and nausea. Clinical studies have found DGL supplements to be safe and well-tolerated.
Approximately 25 million Americans will suffer from GI mucosal complaints at some point in their lifetimes. While such discomfort was originally thought to arise from stress, spicy foods, alcohol consumption, gastric acid production, or heredity, today it is known that common bacteria from food is often the root cause. Since almost 80% of pathogens enter the body either through mucosal tissue or stay localized on mucosal surfaces, a healthy mucosal lining is of the utmost importance for digestive health. DGL supports gastrointestinal health by accelerating the secretion rate of mucus by the gastric and esophageal mucosa, helping to protect tissues. This unique licorice extract contains only biologically active flavonoids, without glycyrrhizin, for targeted usage in the GI tract.
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