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7 Digestive Supplements for Enhanced Digestion

7 Digestive Supplements for Enhanced Digestion

Do you constantly suffer from gas, indigestion and bloating? If so, your digestion could be in need of a helping hand.

Sometimes, it can seem like everything you eat causes you discomfort. Even when you’re trying to eat as healthily as possible, you still feel bloated and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are plenty of digestive supplements that can assist your body’s natural digestive function.

Here are my pick of the best 7 digestive supplements to give your gastrointestinal tract the boost that it needs:

1. Digestive Enzymes

Although your body naturally produces its own digestive enzymes to break down food, these are sometimes not enough to get the job done. It may be that your body isn’t producing enough of these enzymes, or that they have been diluted, or that your diet contains too much fat or protein for your own enzymes to cope.

Taking a digestive enzyme supplement could really help to give your digestive function a boost.[1]

Most digestive enzyme formulas contain a blend of the enzymes that your body would normally produce, such lipase (to break down fats), amylase (to break down carbohydrates), and proteases and peptidases (to break down proteins). These enzymes are generally taken from natural sources, such as fruits, vegetables and amino acids.

You can increase your digestive enzymes naturally by eating foods that contain them. Typically, these include fruits such as pineapple, papaya, and mango. Honey and avocado are good choices, as are fermented foods like kefir and sauerkraut.

You can also look for a quality brand that contains a variety of digestive enzymes. It’s best to take your digestive enzymes during or after a meal.

Pure Formulations is a reputable brand that produces a helpful blend of digestive enzymes, including less common enzymes such as beta-glucanase and alpha-galactosidase. Look for their Digestive Enzymes Ultra formulation:

    Learn more about Digestive Enzymes Ultra here.

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    2. Probiotics

    Probiotic bacteria are the ‘friendly’ microorganisms that live in your intestines and assist in normal digestion. There are many different strains of probiotic bacteria and each strain has a slightly different role in keeping you healthy.

    One of the major benefits of these bacteria is the way they help to digest the foods you eat and absorb the nutrients contained within them.

    If your probiotic bacteria are lacking in any way due to an imbalance in your gut flora (also known as dysbiosis), you may need to top them up with a probiotic supplement.

    Dysbiosis can be caused by a poor diet, the use of antibiotics, other medications such as NSAIDs,[2] and even stress.[3]

    A probiotic supplement will also help to counter the ‘bad’ bacteria or yeasts such as Candida albicans, which can wreak havoc on your digestion.[4]

    Look for a high-quality supplement that contains a variety of probiotic strains and has a high CFU (colony-forming units) count. Some of the best strains for supporting digestion include L. plantarum, L. acidophilus, and B. bifidum.

    Most importantly, choose a probiotic that will get its probiotic bacteria to your gut. Look for a brand that uses time-release tablets to deliver its bacteria safely past stomach acid.

    My recommendation is the 15 billion CFU probiotic developed by Balance One Supplements. It uses time-release tablets and contains 15 billion CFUs of bacteria. The 12 probiotic strains include L. plantarum, L. acidophilus, and B. bifidum.

      Learn more about Balance One Probiotics here.

      3. DGL (Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice)

      No, not the sweet treat! Licorice is actually a plant that has been used as a digestive aid for centuries.

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      Licorice root contains a demulcent, which means it can soothe the inflamed or irritated tissues lining your gut. It’s known for helping to prevent ulcers and intestinal spasms, as well as reducing inflammation and allergies.[5]

      Deglycyrrhizinated licorice is a form of licorice that has been processed for safer consumption. Most of the active ingredient glycyrrhizin has been removed, which makes DGL safer for long-term use, particularly in people with medical conditions.

      DGL is helpful for controlling excess stomach acid and reducing heartburn. DGL supplements are available in chewable form or as liquids, capsules or powders. You can also find DGL in many gut health powders, along with L-glutamine and marshmallow root.

      Deglycyrrhizinated licorice is a very economical supplement and can usually be found relatively cheaply. A good example is the Natural Factors Deglycyrrhizinated licorice:

        Learn more about DGL Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Root here.

        4. Peppermint Oil

        Peppermint is known for its cooling properties which can relieve the nasty effects of indigestion. It’s often used to prevent and treat common digestive symptoms such as gas and bloating.

        Some studies have shown that peppermint works by relaxing the tissues of the gastrointestinal system, which can ease any discomfort. It also helps to reduce spasms and prevent smooth muscle spasms, which can reduce any cramps.

        People who tend to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are often advised to try peppermint tea or peppermint oil, with evidence that it provides significantly better symptom relief than a placebo.[6]

        Peppermint oil capsules are best taken on an empty stomach before a meal, while peppermint tea can be drunk at any time to help soothe the gut.

        A good example of peppermint oil is from Heather’s Tummy Care. They also contain ginger and come in enteric-coated capsules to ensure that the oils reach your gut safely:

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          Learn more about Tummy Tamers Peppermint Oil Capsules here.

          5. Ginger

          Spicy and warming ginger is one of the best-known digestive aids in natural medicine.

          Ginger has long been known for its carminative properties, which means it helps to soothe the gut and reduce cramping. Carminatives like ginger also help to promote the elimination of excessive gas from the digestive system.

          Ginger is particularly helpful for treating conditions such as nausea, dyspepsia and colic. Evidence shows that ginger can help to boost the flow of both saliva and bile, which aids digestion.[7]

          The phenolic compounds in ginger are shown to relieve gastrointestinal (GI) irritation and stimulate bile production. At the same time, ginger also improves the production of the digestive enzymes trypsin and pancreatic lipase, which are needed to break down fat. This helps in increasing motility in the digestive tract.

          There’s no need to spend a lot of money on ginger supplements. Simply buy some ginger from your local store, cut it into small pieces, and boil it to make a simple but effective ginger tea.

          6. L-Glutamine

          If your gut lining has suffered the effects of Candida, Leady Gut Syndrome or food-related allergies, you could do with a dose of L-glutamine.

          This important amino acid is highly recommended for any digestive issue, particularly irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), an inflammatory bowel disease. L-glutamine is vital for the healthy repair of the cells within the gut lining. In fact, it’s the most abundant amino acid in your bloodstream and plays a valuable role in the maintaining the strength of your gut mucosa.

          By supporting the integrity of your gut with L-glutamine, you’ll be improving your overall digestive function.

          L-glutamine has been found to improve immune cell activity in the gut, helping to reduce the risk of infection and inflammation, as well as soothing gastrointestinal tissue. In your lower bowel, glutamine is necessary for providing fuel for metabolism, regulating cell growth and maintaining the gut barrier functions.[8]

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          The most cost-effective L-glutamine usually comes in a powder. It will often be combined with other gut-supportive powders such as marshmallow root or slippery elm. If you want a pure L-glutamine powder, Pure Encapsulations makes a high-quality formulation:

            Learn more about Pure Encapsulations here.

            7. Papain

            Papain is the active constituent within papaya, the tropical fruit. Papain is a a sulfhydryl protease that your body requires to break down protein. Interestingly, this is why papain can also be used as a meat tenderizer.

            The proteolytic enzymes in papain assist in breaking down proteins down into smaller fragments known as peptides and amino acids. One particular study involving a commercial papaya preparation found that it improved both constipation and bloating in people with chronic gastrointestinal dysfunction.[9]

            Although it’s possible to get some benefit from eating papaya as the fresh fruit, a concentrated supplement will provide more effective relief. You can take papain as a capsule on its own or as part of another digestive enzyme supplement.

            Doctor’s Best makes a high-quality proteolytic enzyme formulation that includes papain as well as 8 more enzymes, include serrapeptase and bromelain:

              Learn more about Doctor’s Best Proteolytic Enzymes here.

              So there you go, 7 digestive supplements that can improve your digestive health. If you’d like to learn more ways to improve your digestive health, don’t miss these articles:

              Featured photo credit: Hilary Hahn via unsplash.com

              Reference

              More by this author

              Lisa Richards

              Nutritionist, Creator of The Candida Diet, Owner of TheCandidaDiet.com

              6 Health Benefits of Tumeric (And How to Take It For Good) What to Eat to Speed Up Metabolism and Burn Fat 14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet 8 Best Fiber Supplements on iHerbs (Reviewed by a Gut Health Expert) 5 Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth (And How To Treat It)

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              Last Updated on September 18, 2020

              7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

              7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

              Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

              Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

              1. Exercise Daily

              It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

              If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

              Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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              If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

              2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

              Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

              One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

              This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

              3. Acknowledge Your Limits

              Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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              Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

              Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

              4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

              Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

              The basic nutritional advice includes:

              • Eat unprocessed foods
              • Eat more veggies
              • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
              • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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              Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

                5. Watch Out for Travel

                Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

                This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

                If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

                6. Start Slow

                Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

                If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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                7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

                Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

                My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

                If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

                I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

                Final Thoughts

                Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

                Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

                More Tips on Getting in Shape

                Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

                Reference

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