With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it makes sense to talk about the importance of good digestion. How are you supposed to support it, how should you get the support, 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 as the old die off. Good nutrition can make all the difference in 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.
Probiotics are great for adding new or additional good bacteria to the bowel in hopes that they will overtake the bad bacterial that are in existence there. You can find probiotics in any fermented foods including sour cream, sauerkraut, or kombucha. Yogurt products, while good intentions may be, are not the best source as many of the good bacteria die off in the processing and pasteurization. Many of our patients have had decent results with probiotics however, I struggle with recommending these simply because many of even 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.
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. 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.