Keeping your digestive system happy: a beginner’s guide!

Keeping your digestive system happy: a beginner’s guide!

Why think about your digestive system health?

On the surface, digestive health isn’t something we think or talk about every day. And when everything seems to be working perfectly, it’s easy to ignore. However, a healthy digestive system affects so much more than just how comfortable you feel after eating, and how often you use the bathroom. Here are just a few of aspects of your wellbeing that digestion influences.

  • Nutrient absorption: nearly every nutrient your body uses comes in some way from your food. Even the nutrients you can synthesise are made from building blocks that originally came from your diet. ‘Digestion’ is the process of breaking down food to extract nutrients from it. So a healthy digestive system makes it more likely that the rest of your body will have enough nutrients for everything it needs to do.
  • Immunity: thousands of years ago, the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates insisted that all health problems started in the gut. Today, we know other factors can be responsible – but we also know a large amount of immune system is situated in your digestive tract so looking after our gut is very important to overall wellbeing
  • Emotional wellbeing:one factor that can affect emotional balance is our bodies’ levels of certain neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) – in particular, serotonin. Scientists now know that our bodies store up to 90% of our serotonin in our gut tract [1].

Keeping your digestive system happy: the basics

Supporting your digestive health begins with eating well. After all, you can’t extract good levels of nutrients from your food, if that food doesn’t have good nutrient levels to start with.

In practice, that means eating lots of fresh, unprocessed, natural whole foods: vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, seeds and proteins. You also need enough fibre and fluids. And cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, sugar, salt and trans-fats is never a bad idea either!

Three natural ways to support digestive system health

Once you have the basics in place, you might want to provide your digestive system with a bit of extra support. Three broad classes of natural ingredients that help with this are probiotics, enzymes and herbs. Let’s look at each of them in turn.

1. Probiotics

You’ve probably heard of probiotics before. You might not know, however, that the word ‘probiotic’ literally means ‘for life’, which is an apt way to describe these beneficial microbes. Literally billions of them live in a healthy human gut – and just a few of the benefits they offer in exchange for their living space include:

  • Directly supporting immunity and digestive system health
  • Competing with less friendly micro-organisms for nutrients and living space
  • Helping to create a pH in your gut that makes it less welcoming to unfriendly microbes
  • Producing essential B-group vitamins

However, probiotic bacteria can be quite fragile. Certain lifestyle factors, such as too much alcohol, poor diet, stress and aging can make it difficult for them to flourish. So you may find it helpful to ‘top up’ your body’s natural probiotic levels with a supplement.

However, it’s important to realise that there are many, many different species and strains of probiotic bacteria. So before you buy a probiotic supplement, consider that:

  • Probiotics need to be alive when you take them to be useful. That might not sound like an issue, but they’re incredibly sensitive to conditions like heat and moisture. That means the way they’re stored can be critical.
  • Probiotics also need to viable all the way to their site of action. To get to your gut, probiotics need to pass through the harshly acidic environment in your stomach. Not all probiotics can survive this – so you’ll want to check the ones you choose are guaranteed to be able to.

Nutra-Life Probiotica 50 Billion is a powerful, broad spectrum blend of 11 probiotic strains, which supports digestive health and immunity. It’s also packaged in a glass bottle, to help keep moisture out and protect the life of the beneficial bacteria.

2. Digestive enzymes

Enzymes are proteins that help to transform one kind of molecule in your body into another. Digestive enzymes help to break down larger macronutrients – carbohydrates, fats and proteins – into smaller nutrients that your body can directly use.

Some of the most important digestive enzymes are:

  • Proteases, which break down proteins into amino acids
  • Amylases, which break down carbohydrates into sugars
  • Lipases, which break down fats into fatty acids
  • Tilactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk

Many of the same lifestyle factors that affect your probiotic bacteria levels can also affect your digestive enzyme production. So again, you may want to top up your levels to support your digestive system health.

Nutra-Life Digestive Enzymes is a vegan-friendly enzyme supplement that combines 100% plant-sourced proteases, amylases, lipases and tilactase in a convenient capsule.

3. Herbal support

Over the centuries, traditional herbalists around the world have used plants to support people’s digestive health. Some of the best known digestive supports include:

  • Slippery Elm: Native American herbalists used the powdered bark of this tree to support digestive system comfort.
  • Aloe Vera: the inner-leaf gel from this Aloe plant to help soothe gut
  • Globe Artichoke: more than just a food, Globe Artichoke leaves support liver health and function.

Nutra-Life Gut Health is an orange-and-mango flavoured powder that mixes easily with water to form a great-tasting drink. It provides a blend of carefully selected ingredients to support your gut health, including:

  • Combing Prebiotics Acacia and Pectin with Glutamine, Globe Artichoke and Slippery Elm to help support gut lining integrity and healthy digestive function. It also contains Meriva®, a patented form of Curcumin.
  • Acacia and Pectin: prebiotics that encourage healthy levels of beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract
  • Slippery elm: a mucilaginous herb that helps to soothe and maintain the integrity of your intestinal lining.
  • Glutamine: an important amino acid that nourishes the cells in your gut lining.

Look after your digestive system, and it will look after you!

Howaru®is a trademark of Dupont and used under licence.

Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Supplementary to and not a replacement for a balanced diet. Vitaco Health (NZ) Auckland. DA1936CJ143

References 

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3rd Jul 2019 Nutra-Life

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