The digestive system is the core of the body and is one of the first structures that form in the body during fetal growth. Digestion is the breakdown of insoluble food molecules into water-soluble nutrient molecules than can be absorbed through the intestines and used by the body. The digestive system starts at the mouth and of course, ends at the Anus, so a broad range of practices and regimes are followed to improve digestive health, however, when referring to supplementation by far the 3 most common are:
- Digestive Enzymes
Found in Saliva, Stomach Acid, Pancreatic and Intestinal Juices these enzymes are proteins which are produced by the body to breakdown food molecules. The most common digestive enzymes are Amylase which are produced in the Salivary Glands, Pancreas and Small Intestine and used to catalyse Carbohydrates, Protease produced in the Stomach, Pancreas and Small Intestine and used to to Catalyse Proteins and Lipase produced in the Pancreas and Small Intestine used to catalyse Fats.
Insufficient amounts of these core digestive enzymes will lead to poor nutrient absorption and improper food breakdown. Signs of an Enzyme deficiency include but are not restricted to:
- Food intolerance
While supplementation of the correct digestive enzymes is linked to:
- Improved symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Reduced Acid Reflux
- Better Energy
- Clearing of brain fog
- Reduction of ‘the food coma’
- Improved metabolism
- Improved Immunity
- Improved skin complexion
Prebiotics are dietary fibres founds in foods such as Artichoke, Garlic, Leaks and Onions that can not be absorbed by the earlier parts of our digestive system until they reach the colon, once they reach the colon they are fermented and act as food for our bodies Microbes. Common Prebiotics include Inulin and Fructooligosaccharides.
Prebiotics aid the digestive system by facilitating a healthy live gut culture and lend themselves to:
- Improved immunity
- Improve hormonal balance
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced risk of obesity
- Improved cholesterol profile
Probiotics are foods and supplements that contain live bacteria that is essential for a whole host of bodily functions including digestion and immune function. Dietary probiotics include Yogurt, Kombucha, Pickles and Kimchi.
Probiotics can be difficult to obtain in sufficient amounts through a regular western diet and thus probiotic supplementation is popular, with the most commonly used and widely researched groups being Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. The most common benefits of correct Probiotic consumption include:
- Improved digestive function
- Boosted immunity
- Increased metabolism
- Reduced inflammation
- Better healing
- Preventing and treating Diarrhea
- Reduced brain fog
It is common thought that a healthy level of probiotic consumption is 5-10 CFU (Colony Forming Units).