Our overall health level is largely dictated by the health of our digestive system. Over the last few years, more and more studies are showing that diseases, from cancer to depression, can be caused by an unhealthy gut. Scientists and physicians worldwide describe the gut as our “second brain”. Our digestive systems are affected by poor diet, food allergies, stress, overuse of antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), to name but a few of the culprits. It therefore makes sense to do everything to ensure good gut health. These five supplements all have their part to play in supporting digestion and assisting with the maintenance of a healthy gut, which in turn will encourage a healthy mind and body.
All mammals produce colostrum after giving birth. Nature has designed this pre-milk liquid to support a newborn’s immature digestive tract and immune system. Its make-up is totally different to regular milk and is often described as ‘nature’s first food’. It is estimated that the antibodies in bovine colostrum are 100 times higher than that of straight milk.
The gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) is where toxins and invading diseases and pathogens lurk. Bovine colostrum can kill these pathogens and prevent them from clutching onto the intestinal walls. It also assists in the repair and rebuilding of a damaged intestinal wall. Bovine colostrum contains 97 immune factors, 87 growth factors, probiotics and prebiotics which all help support and heal our GI tract and so maintain or improve the health of our gut.
Just over 50 years ago, a scientist called Dr. Revers discovered that licorice root not only reduced the pain from stomach ulcers, it also healed them. The problem at that time was that there were side effects which were found to be caused by the glycyrrhizon in the licorice. This led to deglycyrrhizinated licorice, or DGL licorice, which is licorice root with the glycyrrhizon removed.
DGL licorice is a natural supplement used to treat heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, nausea, stomach pain, leaky gut syndrome, duodenal and peptic ulcers. It acts as a natural anti-inflammatory agent and is soothing on the digestive system. It has been shown to reduce stomach acid thus diminishing the chances of suffering from acid reflux.
DGL licorice naturally persuades the body to increase the number of mucous producing cells in the GI tract. It also enhances the mucous quality which in turn enables intestinal cells to live longer and encourages microcirculation in the gastrointestinal lining. The result is relief from many ailments which affect the digestion.
Ginger root has been known to be beneficial to our general health and for GI tract ailments. It is full of nutrients and bioactive compounds which impact positively on our body and mind.
Ginger root’s main bioactive compound is gingerol and it is this which reduces the production of nitric oxide, thus greatly reducing free radical damage caused by peroxynitrite. It also prevents the depletion of anti-oxidants and is a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient in food.
It is a great relief for those who suffer from nausea, morning sickness, post-operative nausea, travel sickness and vomiting. Ginger root has also been used with great success by cancer patients who are suffering from nausea after having chemotherapy. It is also known to relieve flatulence and bloating.
As a digestive aid, it encourages the production of digestion acids, which in turn help with food digestion, metabalisation of fats and the absorption of nutrients so essential to our overall health and wellbeing. Ginger root has also been shown to speed up the emptying of the stomach which is obviously a relief for those who suffer from indigestion and similar conditions.
The konjac plant grows in tropical and sub-tropical climates and is used mainly as a source of glucomannan, which is used not only as a thickener in foods but also as a nutritional supplement for a variety of ailments. It is an excellent source of soluble fibre which makes it a perfect supplement for people suffering from constipation. Soluble fibre naturally absorbs water, which in turn softens the digested food and bulks up the resulting waste, thereby greatly assisting the elimination of waste from the body.
Healthy and efficient gastric mobility prevents constipation and thus stops toxins from stagnating in the GI tract. It also encourages the presence of healthy bacterial flora. A recent study (Chen, 2006) showed that regular use of glucomannan greatly increased the presence of bifidobacterial, lactobacilli and total bacteria – all bacterial flora which are beneficial to gut health.
L-Glutamine is one of 20 amino acids and it makes up 30 – 35% of amino acid nitrogen in the blood. Amongst its many excellent uses, it is the major amino acid supporter of the digestive system, helping to keep problems such as leaky gut syndrome and other GI tract problems at bay.
L-Glutamine is highly recommended for people suffering from leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is the precursor to many autoimmune diseases so it is vital to nip it in the bud. L-Glutamine is an excellent anti-inflammatory support and is vital for the good health of the intestinal lining. It actually coats the cell walls and stops invaders from penetrating them.
L-Glutamine is also effective for those people who battle with food allergies. Tests have shown that it also supports good gut flora by killing off the bad bacterial flora. This is a must for people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s. Those who battle with IBS or just diarrhea would find it beneficial taking L-Glutamine regularly.
The Final Word
The final word belongs to Dr. Steven Lamm, the author of No Guts, No Glory. "The gut is a critical group of organs that we need to start paying more attention to. Doing so may be the secret to improving our overall wellness."
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