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Published on September 20, 2019

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

              25 Best Weight Loss Breakfast Ideas for Busy People best tea for weight loss 8 Best Teas for Weight Loss and Fat Burning 8 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Constipation 7 Best Tea for Bloating and Stomach Gas Relief The Best Foods to Eat and Avoid When You Have Diarrhea

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              Last Updated on March 25, 2020

              How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

              How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

              When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

              So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

              1. Exercise

              It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

              2. Drink in Moderation

              I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

              3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

              Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

              4. Watch Less Television

              A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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              Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

              5. Eat Less Red Meat

              Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

              If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

              6. Don’t Smoke

              This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

              7. Socialize

              Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

              8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

              Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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              9. Be Optimistic

              Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

              10. Own a Pet

              Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

              11. Drink Coffee

              Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

              12. Eat Less

              Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

              13. Meditate

              Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

              Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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              How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

              14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

              Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

              15. Laugh Often

              Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

              16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

              Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

              17. Cook Your Own Food

              When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

              Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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              18. Eat Mushrooms

              Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

              19. Floss

              Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

              20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

              Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

              Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

              21. Have Sex

              Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

              More Health Tips

              Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

              Reference

              [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
              [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
              [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
              [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
              [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
              [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
              [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
              [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
              [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
              [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
              [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
              [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
              [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
              [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
              [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
              [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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