Digestion Support

Digestion Support

Healthy digestion is vital to a healthy, vibrant life, but for many of us, our digestive system falters or fails. This failure can be caused by autoimmune disorders or other illnesses connected to the gut. But some of our digestive system “failure” can be attributed to things as simple as failing to use digestive enzymes to get the most from our foods and to ease the burden of digestion on the body when we eat, eating too much or eating foods you are actually allergic to. As we age, our bodies’ important betaine HCl levels drop, leading to low acid in the stomach and often feelings of heartburn.

In these studies, vitamin D and probiotics showed promise in supporting optimal digestion.

Vitamin D protects against cancer

People eating the refined diet typical of developed countries may have greater chances for colorectal cancer, with low levels of vitamin D raising chances further. As this study revealed, Black populations in the U.S. are more likely than any other domestic racial or ethnic group to have these issues, and are also more likely to be low in vitamin D.

In this study, doctors gave food questionnaires every two years to 49,534 Black women between 1995 and 2017, predicting vitamin D scores, and then measuring chances for developing colorectal cancer.

Overall during the 22-year follow-up, women with the lowest vitamin D scores were 41 percent more likely to have developed colorectal cancer compared to those with the highest vitamin D scores.

Reference: Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; 2021, 1055-9965.EPI-21-0675

Probiotics reduce infectious diarrhea

Hospitals typically use antibiotics, which weaken the microbiome and raise chances for infection such as Clostridioides difficile (C. diff). Symptoms include disabling diarrhea, and can be more severe. This study had a unique twist that enabled doctors to compare hospital infection rates with antibiotics alone and after adding probiotics.

Two Montreal hospitals merged, with the larger hospital using probiotics together with antibiotics as standard treatment. The smaller, 335-bed community hospital used antibiotics alone, and hospital-acquired C. diff was common in this facility.

After the merger, at the smaller hospital, doctors began giving a 50-billion colony-forming-unit combination of L. acidophilus, L. casei, and L. rhamnosus, per day to all adults taking antibiotics for two or more days. Compared to the prior 12 months without probiotics, rates of hospital-wide C. diff were 39 percent lower after probiotics. Protection was even greater in those taking multiple antibiotics, with probiotics reducing C. diff more than 50 percent.

Reference: Clinical Infectious Diseases; 2021, Vol. 73, No. 8, 1524-7

Probiotics protect the gut in NAFLD

The job of the small intestine is to digest and absorb nutrients through its mucosal membrane lining, and to act as a first line of defense against pathogens. When the lining functions properly, bacteria and toxins can’t pass through and leak into the bloodstream, while beneficial nutrients can. Since the liver accepts blood directly from the gut, doctors wanted to examine the role the small intestine may play in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

In this study, 39 people with NAFLD took a placebo or a daily probiotic combination including strains of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. After six months, while the probiotics hadn’t altered symptoms of NAFLD, they had stabilized the mucosal immune function in the small intestine, strengthening its impermeability to bacteria and toxins.

Reference: Nutrients; 2021, Vol. 13, No. 9, nu13093192

A lot happens in our guts, from making important biochemicals for the body like serotonin to helping us make vitamins we need to live. The intestines are also part of your natural digestion process. Supporting your digestive system with good, non-processed foods, plenty of good, clean water, good stress management, and supplementing when needed can help you reach your goals for optimal health.

BetsyHealth Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before trying a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition, including being pregnant or nursing, take prescription or over-the-counter medications, or are planning on having surgery.

Article copyright 2024 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Photo by Ella Olsson:

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