Many people turn to supplements in order to support their digestive health. But which ingredients can be found in gut health supplements and how might they help?
Let’s take a look at some of the more common ingredients found in supplements and what the evidence says about their benefits.
Gut Health Supplements For Intestinal And Digestive Issues
Many digestive supplements contain digestive enzymes. These enzymes are designed to help the process of digestion work as it should.
Here are a couple of such enzymes, as well as some of the benefits they could offer those experiencing issues related to digestion.
The pancreas produces this enzyme in order to aid in the digestion of fats. Lipase helps the body absorb important nutrients. Many problems related to digestion occur when the body doesn’t digest fats properly. Lipase is often used to help people whose digestive systems have a problem absorbing nutrients.1
In one study, researchers found that people who received supplements with lipase had substantially less bloating after a large meal.2
Proteases may also help some people who suffer from a lack of nutrient absorption. Many people whose pancreas doesn’t work correctly suffer from digestive issues that affect the intestines. Proteases can often help them absorb the nutrients they need.3
Check the label for proteases such as bacterial protease, fungal protease, and acid protease.
This enzyme is a type of fiber typically found in grains. It has been shown to help boost metabolism and also help fight insulin resistance, a condition that is linked to obesity. 4
Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Root Extract
Did you know that licorice may have substantial benefits for digestive health? As long as licorice is deglycyrrhizinated, meaning it doesn’t contain a compound known as glycyrrhizin, it could help those suffering from digestive discomfort.5
Probiotics And Digestive Problems
Probiotics help to bolster the numbers of beneficial gut bacteria. The bacteria and other gut flora, or microbes, are collectively known as the gut microbiome. Microbiomes are battlegrounds of sorts – where good and bad bacteria are constantly waging war. When the “bad guys”, or bad bacteria, win, it may lead to digestive issues.
Probiotic supplements are full of good bacteria, meant to offset bad bacteria in the intestines. They’ve been shown to help the digestive system in many different ways. For example, probiotic bacteria may help prevent diarrhea in people who take antibiotics.6
Leaky gut syndrome, also known as intestinal permeability, this is where the walls of the intestines become weak. This, in turn, allows toxins from the intestines to get into the bloodstream. By supporting a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, you might be able to prevent this from happening.7
Don’t Forget About Prebiotics
Probiotic supplements may get most of the attention, but prebiotics are important as well. Prebiotics, in a nutshell, are fibers found in foods such as bananas and sauerkraut. They act as a food source for probiotic bacteria. Our bodies can’t digest them, but probiotics can.8
One of the biggest ways prebiotics help the digestive system is by helping to form fatty acids. These fatty acids play a role in helping ensure we have regular bowel movements.9
But prebiotics may help with digestion in other ways as well. For example, research indicates that prebiotic fiber actually plays a role in developing certain probiotic bacteria – specifically, the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus acidophilus strains.10 These are the strains chiefly responsible for the digestive benefits we covered earlier.
So, as you can see, both prebiotics and probiotics can play a role in supporting digestion.
Problems With Digestion? Know When To See The Doctor
If you’re having digestive issues that seem to never go away, it’s important that you go see a doctor. Seeing a doctor regularly can alert you to issues before major problems develop.
One of the more common digestive issues is diarrhea. If you only have an occasional bout, it will probably clear up on its own. But if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, or is accompanied by blood in the stool or severe stomach pain, get to a doctor as soon as you can.
There are other instances where you’ll need to seek medical help as soon as possible for a digestive problem. These include constant nausea, trouble swallowing, vomiting blood, persistent heartburn, and several others.11
Pay attention to your body. If you are experiencing digestive issues, talk to your doctor about taking gut health supplements or probiotic supplements. They may be able to help.