With Thanksgiving quite literally under our belts and Christmas right around the corner, it makes sense to talk about the importance of good digestion. How to support it, how to get it, and most importantly, what IT is exactly. Digestion is how we extrapolate nutrients from the food we eat for the body to work properly and create new cells. Good nutrition can make all the difference between a properly working digestive tract and one that is sluggish, constipated or unpredictable.
One of the more common methods for achieving a healthier bowel is to simply add a probiotic to your supplements or diet. These are great for adding new good bacteria to the bowel in hopes that they will overtake the bad bacteria that are dwelling there. You can find naturally occurring probiotics in any fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kombucha.
Yogurt, and other dairy products, while well intended, are not the best source, as many of the good bacteria die off in processing and pasteurization.
Many of our patients have had decent results with probiotics however, I struggle with recommending these, simply because many of the good supplements on the market are a very wide spectrum so we are basically taking a guess as to what bacteria will be helpful to the gut instead of using a specific strain to improve the health. Many of these nonharmful organisms are also very delicate to the heat and acid in the stomach so few get to the places of the gut where they are most beneficial, and there’s not a proven study that shows probiotics help the sick get well. Only, to show it helps the well stay well.
Another common practice is to add enzymes. Animal enzymes are denatured in the stomach and get “used up” there so they do very little for the overall digestive qualities of the body Plant digestive enzymes goes dormant in acidic environments and then have to reestablish themselves once they arrive at a higher pH further down the bowel.
My personal favorite question is about essential oils.
doTERRA’s DigestZen (R) is an awesome product. We often keep it in stock at the office or you can order your own HERE. You can put it on your belly starting on the right side, motioning upwards, across the abdomen and then down the left side of the belly. This massage works great for getting things moving. It’s also important to recognize WHY you’re having digestive issues in the first place. If you had one too many cookies at last night’s party and followed it up with alcohol or a large glass of milk, sure, you can expect some difficulties if you don’t usually eat that way. Try this massage technique and drink extra lemon water for added benefit.
Prebiotics act as a fertilizer to the good bacteria in the bowel.
They have been shown to improve the good to bad ratio of bacteria in the gut. The best news is that the body doesn’t digest them as with a probiotic. They are helpful to mental health, have been shown to decrease anxiety, depression, stress response and decrease cortisol levels. Prebiotics are not broken down by the body and aren’t affected by heat, cold, acid or time. They have also been clinically shown to improve bone density, improve gut health, increase immunity, increase bowel regularity, and help control weight and appetite. While prebiotics can be found in almost all fruits and vegetables they are best found in apple skins, garlic, bananas, beans, onions, and artichokes. It’s impossible to eat enough for optimal results so if you’re already eating fairly well it’s ideal to supplement. We recommend Ambertose from Mannatech. There’s a whole science to the benefits of this product and if you really want to go down a rabbit hole, Google epigenetics. This product doesn’t only help with digestion but cell to cell communication which is important in all aspects of health. If you go HERE, you can order yours today.