Digestive & Gut Health
Nelson Narciso, DNM® is a holistic nutritionist, Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and studied auricular medicine. He is a member of the Examining Board of Natural Medicine Practitioners™ and the Canadian Society for Orthomolecular Medicine. Nelson is a respected product formulator, writer, and educator on diet and natural health products and has been a regular guest on numerous tv and radio shows throughout North America
62 million Americans & 20 million Canadians suffer from digestive disorders. Considering how widespread this problem is we often take for granted that our digestive system is the doorway to the body, and supporting it is essential for one’s well-being. The digestive/excretory systems are involved in the mechanical and chemical processes that allow for the absorption of nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and water while helping with the elimination of waste. The digestive system includes your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small/large intestine, liver, spleen, pancreas, gall bladder, etc.
Diet & Supplements That Support the Gut
There are numerous dietary & supplement strategies that can support the gut. Here are just three key ones to consider and the rationale behind each:
Although fibre is best known for its ability to promote regularity, it also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, certain gastrointestinal disorders, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers. Fibre also binds to toxins in the digestive tract for transport out of your body and acts as a prebiotic, a food that nourishes probiotics. Sadly, with all that fibre has to offer, there is what’s known as a “fibre gap.” The recommended daily fibre intake for women is 25g and 38g for men in North America. The vast majority of adults only consume 50% (14g) of the fibre they need daily. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that humans can’t digest. Although most carbohydrates get digested and turned into sugar molecules, fibre does not, and it goes through the gut undigested. Fibre has no caloric value. There are 2 types of fibre: 1. Soluble fibre dissolves in water and is best known for its cholesterol-lowering properties and ability to balance blood glucose. 2. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and is best known for helping you stay regular. Consuming both should be the goal. North Coast Naturals Daily Cleanse provides a perfect blend of soluble and insoluble fibre alongside probiotics and essential fats.
It is essential to keep a healthy and diverse population of microbes in the gut (aka microbiota). Poor diet, digestive issues, weakened immune function, chronic stress, chronic constipation, obesity and the use of antibiotics and antacids, to name a few, can all lead to an imbalance, leaving us vulnerable to bad microbes (aka pathogens). When the microbial community in the body is imbalanced, it results in a condition known as dysbiosis. Inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, obesity, colorectal cancer, autism, cystic fibrosis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and frequent antibiotic use are just some examples of conditions & diseases where dysbiosis commonly occurs. Many practitioners now routinely recommend their patients use probiotic supplements for support, especially when someone is treated with a course of antibiotics to minimize the adverse side effects on the digestive tract.
Probiotics play a pivotal role in supporting our digestive system. Probiotics improve nutrient absorption, reduce inflammation in the gut and systematically, reduce leaky gut, help with IBS, help maintain regularity, and reduce gas and bloating. Choose a probiotic formula with a variety of strains studied and look for one that has a higher potency – 15 billion or more. You can review some options in this collection of Digestive & Gut Support products.
Amino acids are the building blocks of all proteins. Specific amino acids, like glutamine and BCAAs, when taken in addition to whole protein, have been shown to support intestinal health, improve exercise performance, speed up recovery, reduce the risk of exercise-induced immune suppression following intense workouts.
- Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in the human body. It plays a role in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid and is crucial for immune function, energy production, protein & glutathione synthesis, and antioxidant status. Glutamine is the primary fuel source used by our intestinal cells and a significant fuel used by white blood cells. Although we can make glutamine during times of stress (intense exercise, trauma, shock, illness, various disease states), the body’s need for glutamine rises sharply, surpassing our ability to produce it. These stressors have been shown to cause as much as a 50% drop in blood glutamine levels. Supplementation with glutamine powder has been shown to be a very effective way of countering this depletion and restoring glutamine to normal levels. Our naturally fermented PVL Gold Series Glutamine is a great option.
- BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) promote intestinal development, increases villus height (finger-like projections that make up the cell wall), increase intestinal absorption of amino acids, support intestinal integrity and function. BCAAs can also be used by the body to manufacture glutamine. Consider the PVL EAA+BCAA Complete as a possible option.
FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) are specific carbohydrates (sugars) found in many common foods that can be hard to digest for people with gastrointestinal issues like IBS, and result in unpleasant symptoms such as abdominal discomfort. You may not suffer from IBS, but a low FODMAP diet is worth considering for the many that do.
Once the diagnosis of SIBO is confirmed the following things should be considered:
- Go on a Low “FODMAP” Diet
Here’s a list of Low & High FODMAP foods https://www.monashfodmap.com/about-fodmap-and-ibs/high-and-low-fodmap-foods/. You can also download a FODMAP app for your phone https://www.monashfodmap.com/ibs-central/i-have-ibs/get-the-app/
- Take a Probiotic
Make sure the probiotic does not contain FOS (this is a prebiotic that is also a high FODMAP food)
Use a quality probiotic that is free of FOS or inulin, both of which are FODMAPs.
- Use a LOW FODMAP Fibre
“Ultimate Daily Cleanse” by North Coast Naturals is Canada’s number one selling high-quality low-FODMAP fibre supplement.
- Use an Antibiotic
A gastroenterologist would likely recommend a two-week course of antibiotics (commonly rifaximin) to kill off the bacteria fermenting those FODMAP carbohydrates. A holistic practitioner would probably opt for natural antimicrobials.
Studies on natural antimicrobials used to treat SIBO:
The information in this article has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please seek competent medical advice before making any significant changes to your normal eating pattern.