Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on May 14, 2021

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.

    Advertising

    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.

      Advertising

      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:

        Advertising

          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]

          Advertising

          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

              Advertising

              Reference

              More by this author

              Lisa Richards

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

              7 Best Probiotic Supplements (Recommendation and Reviews) 3 Simple Steps to Reduce Your Gut Inflammation What Helps Yeast Infections: Foods To Eat And Avoid What to Eat When Constipated? 10 Foods to Improve Your Gut Health 7 Super Fast and Effective Ways to Reduce Gas in Stomach

              Trending in Probiotic

              1 7 Best Probiotic Supplements (Recommendation and Reviews) 2 3 Simple Steps to Reduce Your Gut Inflammation 3 What Helps Yeast Infections: Foods To Eat And Avoid 4 What to Eat When Constipated? 10 Foods to Improve Your Gut Health 5 7 Super Fast and Effective Ways to Reduce Gas in Stomach

              Read Next

              Advertising
              Advertising
              Advertising

              Last Updated on June 11, 2021

              7 Best Probiotic Supplements (Recommendation and Reviews)

              7 Best Probiotic Supplements (Recommendation and Reviews)

              You’ve probably heard that probiotics are a great way to boost your gut health. And indeed, they are! But how do you find the right probiotic for you? Where do you look? Which products are good and which are not?

              Here’s an outline of what you need to look for when choosing the best probiotic supplement for you.

              First of all, you should check off these five questions.

              1. Will the Bacteria in the Probiotic Reach Your Gut?

              A good probiotic should be designed in a way that allows the bacteria to survive the harsh acidic environment of your stomach. This means that the bacteria have a better chance of arriving at your intestines, ready to establish themselves and do their work.

              That’s why you should look for a probiotic supplement that uses some form of time-release technology, such as BIO-tract or delayed-release capsules that protects the probiotic bacteria and prevents them from being broken down in your stomach.[1]

              2. How Many Billion CFUS of Bacteria Do I Need?

              CFU stands for “colony-forming unit.” This is the amount of live and active bacteria contained in each dose. Generally speaking, the higher the CFU count, the more effective the probiotic. However, not all products will state how many CFUs they contain, which can be a sign that the actual count is very low.

              A good probiotic supplement should contain at least 10 billion CFUs for it to be effective or at least 5 billion CFUs for children.

              3. Which Strains of Bacteria Does It Contain?

              There are hundreds of different strains of bacteria, and all of them have unique properties. Some probiotics have been shown to help with specific health conditions. Most of the probiotics in commercial formulations are naturally found in a healthy gut.

              Advertising

              Some of the best bacterial strains to look for in a probiotic are L. Plantarum (for protecting the membrane that surrounds your gut), L. paracasei (for its antibacterial properties that can ward off pathogens like E. coli and Candida albicans), and L. acidophilus (to regulate acidity in your gut and boost your immune system).

              4. How Many Different Strains of Bacteria Are Included?

              There are more than 1,000 different species of bacteria in a healthy gut. So, it’s best to choose a probiotic supplement that contains a variety of strains. All these strains work together, each supporting one another with their different properties. The more strains, the more work that gets done!

              5. Are There Any Other Ingredients That Might Damage Your Gut Health?

              Many supplement manufacturers include fillers and unnecessary ingredients to lengthen shelf life, sweeten their product, or make the contents easier to pour into capsules. Be sure to read the ingredients label carefully as some of these “extras” can be harmful to gut health.

              Look out for common allergens, such as gluten, nuts, dairy products, or animal products, especially if you’re intolerant or allergic to them. Also, be aware that some gums (like those found in ‘gummy’ kids’ probiotics) can increase inflammation in your gut.

              What Is a Good Probiotic?

              Several factors go into making a good probiotic. First of all, try to look past the big numbers that are used in marketing. You’ll see adverts for probiotics that have 50 billion, 100 billion, even 200 billion CFUs! The harsh reality is that these numbers are usually irrelevant. Probiotics with high CFU counts often deliver only a few of those bacteria past your stomach acid. Time-release tablets, for example using patented technologies like BIO-tract, can deliver 15 times more bacteria to the gut than an equivalent probiotic in a vegetable capsule.[2]

              For example, my preferred Balance ONE Probiotic contains 15 billion CFUs of bacteria. It uses time-release tablets, and each one of those tablets delivers the same amount of bacteria to your gut as a 225 billion CFU probiotic in a vegetable capsule.

              Second, look for the strains that the probiotic contains. A good probiotic for digestive health and immune support should contain at least 5 strains, and preferably 10. All of those strains have different benefits and characteristics. The more you take, the more benefits you’ll enjoy.

              Lastly, watch out for unnecessary sweeteners or flavors. No one needs their probiotics to taste like candy! Many probiotics, and especially probiotic gummies, contain a range of sweeteners and other ingredients that can actually impair your gut health.

              With all the criteria in mind, here are the 7 best probiotic supplements available in the market, together with my reviews to help you choose the best one for you.

              Advertising

              1. Balance ONE Probiotic

                This is one probiotic supplement that ticks all the right boxes. It contains 12 strains of probiotics with 15 billion CFUs per tablet. These include the most-researched strains, such as Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and more.

                The Balance ONE Probiotic is also free from unnecessary fillers and allergens, such as nuts, dairy, gluten. It’s non-GMO and vegan, and it doesn’t require refrigeration, so it’s perfect for travel or keeping on your desk at work. It only contains strains that are already present in the human gut without any Soil Based Organisms (SBOs) or active yeasts.

                The most important feature of the Balance ONE probiotic is its patented delivery system known as BIO-tract. This special patented process involves compressing the probiotic bacteria into tablets. This means that Balance ONE probiotics can survive passage through the acidic conditions of the stomach without being destroyed. Studies have shown that this delivery method gets 15 times as many bacteria past stomach acid compared to regular vegetable capsules.[3]

                If you’re looking for a quality probiotic with high efficacy, Balance One is my number one choice.

                Check out Balance One Probiotic here.

                2. Renew Life Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic

                  This is a good probiotic that contains a wide variety of strains and a powerful dose. There are a guaranteed 30 billion live probiotic cultures, including 12 probiotic strains, which makes it a good choice for anyone seeking a starter probiotic.

                  It uses delayed-release vegetable capsules which, while not as effective as the BIO-tract system, are still an effective way to deliver bacteria to the gut. The rest of the specs check out too. It has multiple strains for effective support and is free from gluten, dairy, and soy.

                  Check out Renew Life Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic here.

                  3. Vitamin Bounty – Pro 25 Probiotic and Prebiotic

                  Advertising

                    With 25 Billion organisms per dose, Vitamin Bounty is a good choice for a maintenance probiotic. It also has an impressive 13 probiotic strains to help support overall digestive health.

                    It’s also made with a delayed-release capsule that protects the live bacteria contained within each capsule from the stomach’s harsh environment. This helps in the delivery of the bacteria to the intestines and improves efficacy. There is also a huge range of strains plus a nice bonus of Fermented Greens, which help as a prebiotic.

                    Check out Vitamin Bounty – Pro 25 Probiotic and Prebiotic here.

                    4. Hyperbiotics PRO-15 Advanced Strength

                      Again, this formula is made with the BIO-tract patented delivery method. The probiotic contents are released over an eight to then hour period, which means they’re more likely to bypass the acidic environment of the stomach and move into the intestinal tract alive. It has the added benefit of New Zealand Kiwifruit powder, which functions as a prebiotic that helps the healthy bacteria colonize and supports digestion and regularity.

                      Like Balance One, Hyberbiotics Pro-15 has a guaranteed shelf life that doesn’t require refrigeration. It contains only strains that are already present in the human gut without any Soil Based Organisms (SBOs) or active yeasts.

                      Check out Hyperbiotics PRO-15 Advanced Strength here.

                      5. Smart Belly Adult Daily

                        This formula contains a selection of 7 well-researched lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains, as well as a prebiotic. The CFU is 7 billion, which is less than ideal, but it does use the patented Bio-tract delivery system so that the majority of those probiotic bacteria will survive stomach acid. It’s allergy-free and requires no refrigeration.

                        Check out Smart Belly Adult Daily here.

                        6. Garden of Life Colon Daily Care 40 Billion CFU

                        Advertising

                          This well-known brand of probiotic boasts 40 Billion CFU per capsule with 16 strains of probiotic bacteria. This includes B. lactis HN019, a strain proven to help promote bowel regularity and help relieve bloating. It also has the nice feature of a desiccant-lined bottle technology to support the shelf life of the probiotics, and it’s allergen-free.

                          The only concern with this probiotic is that it does not use an effective method to deliver its bacteria past stomach acid, so it’s hard to say whether those 40 billion probiotic bacteria are guaranteed to reach the intestines.

                          Check out Garden of Life Colon Daily Care 40 Billion CFU here.

                          7. Align Probiotics Digestive Probiotic

                            Last but not least, Align is designed to support digestive health. Its main feature is its inclusion of Bifidobacterium longum 35624, which the manufacturers claim will deliver 24/7 support to the gut.

                            This particular strain isn’t often seen in other products. If you’re suffering from IBS, this could be a good choice.

                            Check out Align Probiotics Digestive Probiotic here.

                            The Bottom Line

                            There are so many probiotic supplements on the market that it can be difficult to make an informed choice. The health supplement industry is largely unregulated and many of the cheaper products tend to be of poor quality.

                            You can use the questions at the top of this article to determine if your probiotic is worth the money. If you need some further guidance, the probiotics listed in this article are all good choices.

                            More About Probiotics

                            Featured photo credit: Paweł Czerwiński via unsplash.com

                            Reference

                            Read Next