(NaturalHealth365) Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, affects 15 to 30 percent of the American population, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It (almost) goes without saying that poor digestion is a core reason for most chronic health problems.
And, while pharmaceutical drugs may offer temporary relief of symptoms, they can feature toxic side effects – and they do nothing to address the root cause of poor digestion.
The fact is: insufficient levels of digestive enzymes, coupled with bacterial overgrowth, can cause a shortage of stomach acid – without which proper digestion can’t occur. Fortunately, a solution exists.
Supplemental digestive enzymes – along with probiotics – can deliver a “one-two” combination punch against GERD (and even help to ease other gastrointestinal complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease).
Keep reading to learn more about the surprising results of a scientific study on probiotics.
Clinical studies reveals how to safely eliminate problems with digestion
Emerging research supports the ability of Bacillus coagulans, a strain of lactic acid-forming bacteria, to balance the gut microbiome and alleviate constipation and diarrhea.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published last year in Nutrition Journal, researchers evaluated the benefits of probiotics – specifically, of the B. coagulans bacteria – for patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
Using a strain known as MTCC 5856, the team gave 2 billion spores of colony forming units a day for 90 days to patients diagnosed with diarrhea due to IBS. A control group received standard care and placebo.
Remarkably, the B.coagulans group experienced improvements on every measure – including reductions in diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, bloating and vomiting. Impressed researchers deemed the treatment both safe and effective.
As an added bonus: Because it helps to normalize and regulate bowel function, B. coagulans is effective against constipation as well.
In a study published in Alternative Medicine Review, 70 percent of participants with chronic constipation experienced decreased abdominal distention – and were able to pass normal bowel movements after taking the probiotic for 10 days.
Warning: Deficiencies in digestive enzymes lead to nutrient malabsorption
Natural digestive enzymes – found in saliva, gastrointestinal fluid, stomach and pancreas – help to break down food. This means converting proteins, carbohydrates and fats to smaller molecules, such as amino acids, fatty acids, simple sugars and nucleic acids.
Each type of enzyme has a specific – and vital – task.
Protease breaks down proteins – which otherwise can become undigested, toxic fragments – while lactase helps to digest milk sugar, or lactose.
Amylase breaks down starches and sugars, and lipase – needed to digest dairy, meat, eggs, and oils – breaks down fats and facilitates the absorption of vitamins D, K, E and A.
Finally, cellulase helps to break down cellulose, a beneficial but notoriously hard-to-digest plant fiber.
Clearly, shortages in any of these enzymes can lead to poor digestion, with uncomfortable – and even dangerous – consequences.
Undigested food in the colon not only results in gastrointestinal distress, but can cause incomplete absorption of nutrients and even – in extreme cases – malnutrition.
Unfortunately, levels of indispensable digestive enzymes can decrease with normal aging. Autoimmune conditions can cause deficiencies as well, and some experts warn that chemicals – such as fluoride in water – may contribute to insufficient digestive enzymes.
Alleviate deficiencies with supplemental enzymes
Double-blind clinical studies – from as far back as 1971 – have demonstrated that supplemental digestive enzymes can reduce heartburn, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating and flatulence.
Integrative physicians tend to suggest these enzymes for a wide range of digestive disorders, including leaky gut, GERD, IBS, Crohn’s disease, liver disorders, diverticulitis, age-related enzyme deficiency and hypochloremia (or low stomach acid).
Look for a full-spectrum, high-quality blend that includes a wide variety of enzymes, particularly alpha-galactosidae, amylase, cellulose, lactase, lipase, protease and pectinase.
Normally sourced from both plants and animals, digestive enzymes are also available in strictly plant-derived formulations for vegans and vegetarians. And, while probiotics can be taken after meals – or between them – digestive enzymes should be taken right before eating.
Of course, you should first consult with your doctor before supplementing with enzymes or probiotics.
The best foods to support good digestion
Some foods – such as organic pineapple, papaya, mango, bananas and kiwi fruit – contain natural digestive enzymes. For maximum benefit, eat them fresh, raw and unprocessed.
Ayurvedic practitioners often advise a tea made with equal parts cumin, coriander and fennel to stimulate enzyme function and promote digestion.
Of course, you can also obtain probiotics – including B.coagulans – by eating fermented products such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso and yogurt.
Along with consuming healthy amounts of probiotic and raw foods, you can promote good digestion by eating food at room temperature (or slightly above) and allowing at least three hours between meals – and two hours before either sleeping or exercising.
Bottom line: Do NOT overeat.
Simply put: Supplemental digestive enzymes and probiotics can work as a team to relieve stress on the digestive system and support good digestion. In the process, they can help to safely eliminate a laundry list of gastrointestinal disorders.
Editor’s note: My #1 pick for probiotics is available at the NaturalHealth365 Store. Click here to order today!*
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Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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