Supplements To Support Digestive Health

The digestive system relies on an intricate balance of hydration, nutrient intake, digestive enzymes, organ function and gut bacteria in order to function optimally. When the system is thrown off we suffer from numerous ailments from bloating and indigestion to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). All of us will struggle with digestive upset at some point in our lives, but we don’t have to put up with it. Digestive upset is not only uncomfortable but it has a significant impact on energy levels, mental well-being and lifestyle. Below are some of the supplements which are capable of alleviating painful symptoms, restoring the balance and improving overall health.

Charcoal

If you are unfamiliar with the use of charcoal supplements to treat stomach ailments, then it may seem bizarre to you at first. However, the ingestion of activated charcoal is excellent at reducing the painful symptoms of indigestion, heartburn, diarrhoea and flatulence without turning to an over the counter medicine to block the pain.

Charcoal is derived from coconut shells and vegetable ingredients. It is capable of absorbing substantial amounts of gas and toxins associated with digestive ailments. Before being sold, the charcoal undergoes activation which is a process achieved primarily by burning coconut shells in the absence of air. The carbonised shells are then placed into a kiln of super heated steam with soaring temperatures of above 800⁰C for between 12-24 hours. The steam is used to open the pores of the charcoal creating an enormous internal surface area. It is this which makes the charcoal such an efficient absorbent.

The end product is wheat and lactose free making it suitable for the majority of people who suffer from digestive upset. Braggs Charcoal Tablets are just £4.50 for 100 tablets.

Digestive Enzymes

The human body makes more than 3000 different enzymes which are necessary as catalysts to speed up chemical reactions within the body and reserve energy as a result. Only a select few of these enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of food into basic building blocks which we are able to absorb and reassemble to regenerate cells. This repeated process keeps our tissue, organs and glands in fully functioning order.

Digestive enzymes are complex proteins and work optimally at specific temperatures and pH.

Internal digestive enzymes are secreted in the mouth, stomach, pancreas and small intestine. External digestive enzymes are those within food which help our body breakdown the food and extract the nutrients within. Active digestive enzymes are found in raw foods (as well as fungai and plants) so it is no surprise that food preparation and cooking methods are limiting the amount ingested by the majority of people.

The immune system will defend the body against partially digested foods which make it into the bloodstream because it recognises them as a toxic foreign body. Not only does a lack of digestive enzymes decrease the benefit of the nutrition you ingest, it also weakens the immune system making you feel very lethargic.

To ensure you have optimum digestive enzymes to help you absorb maximum nutrients and avoid digestive upset and associated symptoms, try Udos Choice Digestive Enzymes. They come in capsule form which means it is possible to mix the enzymes into your food 15-30 minutes prior to ingestion to gain the best results. This product also contains beetroot fibre which is safe for those who are gluten intolerant

Probiotics

The human gut is home to hundreds of bacterial species that contribute to food digestion, a healthy flora balance and in some unfortunate cases, inflammatory gut diseases. Probiotics are beneficial ‘friendly’ bacteria that enhance digestive health by keeping the resident bacteria in check.

When the ratio of good bacteria to bad is lowered, problems begin to arise such as excessive gas, bloating, intestinal toxicity, constipation and poor absorption of nutrients. Whilst it is true that non-beneficial bacteria are naturally occurring in the intestinal tract problems begin when their growth goes unchecked. Probiotics play an especially important role in keeping in check the pathogenic bacteria that cause disease. A healthy lower intestine should contain at least 85% friendly bacteria to prevent the over colonisation of disease causing micro organisms like E.coli.

Probiotics are linked with:

-          Lowering bad LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol

-          Lowering total cholesterol

-          Helping to remove excessive amounts of ‘bad’ bacteria to restore a healthy balance

-          Helping to make vitamin K

-          Increasing immunity

-          Reduce digestive related infections

-          Reduce the risk of developing/relapsing chronic gut problems such as ulcers

-          Helping to fight the symptoms of the common cold

-          Effectively treating IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)

-          Increasing lifespan

Udos Choice Super 8 Probiotics contain 8 beneficial strains of good bacteria:

1. Lactobacillus acidophilus: one of the most prominent microorganisms found in the small intestine. It produces lactic acid which inhibits yeast growth as well as natural antibiotics which enhance immune functions.

2. Lactobacillus rhamnosus: one of the most important probiotic strains for the health of the adult digestive tract from the mouth to the small intestine. Especially beneficial in inhibiting the bacteria involved in vaginal and urinary tract infections.

3. Streptococcus thermophilus: a transient probiotic from dairy origin. Producing large quantities of lactic acid, it limits the growth of unfriendly bacteria and helps in the prevention and treatment of diarrhoea.

4. Lactobacillus plantarum: from vegetable origin and found in the intestinal tract it has beneficial anti-microbial activities.

5. Bifidobacterium bifidum: found primarily in the large intestine. As a producer of B vitamins it helps the body in the completion of its digestive process, specifically in the absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals.

6. Bifidobacterium longum: colonises in the intestinal tract, it breaks down bile salts, helps to synthesize B-complex vitamins and stimulates the immune system.

7. Lactobacillus bulgaricus: a transient strain from dairy origin that carries important protective functions on its way through the intestinal tract.

8. Lactobacillus salivarius: found in the mouth and in the small intestine and has been shown to reduce bleeding gums, tooth decay, bad breath and oral thrush.

There is an array of health supplements which are designed to promote digestive health including ever popular aloe vera, as well as peppermint oil and ginger supplements which help to settle the stomach during bouts of nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Blue green algae is another great addition to a healthy diet in order to promote digestive health as it is a rich source of enzymes as well as vegetable protein, vitamins and minerals.

About the Author

Job Role Sports Nutritionist and Social Media Coordinator Qualifications Bsc Sport and Exercise Science Steph has a competitive athletic background which spans 19 years. As a child she performed with the English Youth Ballet and had performed on the West End stage by the age of 10. Her enthusiasm for sport and fitness continued to grow as she did, encouraging her to learn more about nutrition and training. She began using her knowledge and personal experience to help others when she began coaching at the age of 16. From here, she went on to study Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Essex during which time she also received the Most Promising Newcomer Award from her University to mark her outstanding contribution to sport. During her first year of study she was introduced to partner stunt acrobatics and artistic gymnastics. After one year of dedicating herself to a lifestyle revolving around her sport, she was training with the best team in the UK who are currently ranked fifth in the world. Steph has worked in both the private and public sector coaching children and adults from grassroot to elite level as well as providing them with cutting edge advice on how to reach their goals. Steph has received awards for her choreography and has competed nationally and internationally meaning that she can back up her scientific knowledge with a wealth of experience. As our resident Sports Nutritionist, Steph is here to provide the most current and evidence based fitness, health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals.
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