While digestive disease affects 60-70 million Americans [1], many people without a diagnosed digestive condition complain of gas, indigestion, and bloating. These symptoms tell us that we need to pay more attention to our digestive process in order to improve our overall health. Since healthy gut function is linked to immunity, metabolism, brain function, and many more aspects of health [2], it makes good sense to take steps to ensure that our digestive system is operating well.Healthy Digestion

While maintaining a healthy diet is critical, there are many reasons why your digestive system may need supplements to enhance its function. Digestive supplements can help regulate stomach acid, promote healthy gut bacteria, and help us break down and absorb healthy proteins, fats, and carbohydrates from our food. Taking in the right amount and type of fiber daily is critical to supporting healthy gut bacteria and ensuring you stay regular [3].

Here are the top four supplements that contribute to gut health and good digestion:

  1. Pancreatic Enzymes: These enzymes are a powerful support for the digestive system and can help relieve uncomfortable gas and bloating [4]. When we do not produce enough enzymes, we only partially digest our food, and bloating and inflammation occur [5]. Supplementing digestive enzymes provides compounds that would normally be secreted by the pancreas to help break down carbohydrates (sugars and starches), proteins, and fats; these enzymes are amylase, protease, and lipase and they help us absorb nutrients in the small intestine for use as energy [6]. When selecting an enzyme formula, consider choosing full strength pancreatin as it is free from lactose, which is a milk sugar and common sugar that often causes digestive upset [7].
  2. Betaine HCL: After saliva and chewing, the stomach is where a great deal of initial food breakdown occurs. There is synergy in the gut, as stomach acid helps activate pepsin, an enzyme critical for protein digestion [8]. Both stomach acid and digestive enzymes work to break down your food, but many people have low stomach acid due to a number of factors such as stress and aging [9]. The stomach is meant to be highly acidic, with a pH around 1.5-3.5 [10], so that it can initiate digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. Betaine HCl has been shown to help keep the stomach at the appropriate pH level, making it easier for the body to absorb important minerals and Vitamin B12 [11]. Please be sure to discuss with a doctor if you are taking heartburn medication or have had an ulcer.
  3. Probiotics: Probiotics are studied widely by scientists and confer a multitude of benefits throughout the entire body. However, probiotics are most widely known for promoting digestive efficiency and comfort. For patients who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and digestive discomfort, probiotics offer well-researched support by supplying tens of billions of bacteria to the gut [12]. The goal of probiotics is to re-balance the delicate ecosystem of gut bacteria that is thrown off by eating habits, stress, environmental toxins, and a host of other factors that negatively affect digestion [13]. Some studies show that Lactobacillus acidophilus can reduce certain gastrointestinal issues [14]. Good probiotic formulas are dairy and gluten-free, and some have prebiotic fiber such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS) to feed the good bacteria and ensure they have the best chance of living happily in the digestive tract [15].
  4. Fiber: Fiber is critical for maintaining healthy digestive function, including promoting regular bowel movements [16]. It is also crucial food for your healthy gut bacteria [17], and even for hormonal balance [18]. Fiber also plays a role in slowing the rate of sugar and starch absorption in the gut, contributing to even blood sugar levels and promoting a feeling of fullness, to prevent rapid sugar swings and crashes [19]. In this way, fiber has an important role to play in cardiovascular health and prevention of diabetes [20]. There are many dietary sources of fiber, from fruits and vegetables to flax and chia seeds; however, few people eat the recommended amount of these foods that is required to promote optimal digestive health. Most Americans only get 15 grams of fiber in their diet daily whereas the recommended intake is 25-38 grams [21]. Therefore, a broad-spectrum fiber supplement may be necessary to ensure that you are getting the amount of fiber you need to nourish your gut bacteria and provide maximum digestive comfort.

You may need one or more of these supplements at a time, depending on where your digestion needs improvement. It is best to talk with a trusted health care provider who knows about natural digestion if you are unsure which supplements are right for you.

About the Author

Vital Nutrients is dedicated to manufacturing high quality supplements that promote health, wellness and vitality. Our stringent standards and extensive laboratory analyses has led to our supplements being used and trusted by hospitals, healthcare practitioners and consumers worldwide. Nothing is more important than the quality of our supplements.

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