Relieve digestive distress—including heartburn, stomach cramps, and constipation—with the help of a few supplement strategies.
The causes of digestive disorders can vary greatly. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn are sometimes caused by chronic overeating or by food sensitivities, usually because of eating too many processed foods. Antibiotics can have long-term deleterious effects on the digestive tract. Stomach ulcers are most commonly caused by H. pylori (a bacterium) or long-term use of the drug ibuprofen.
The Downside of Drugstore Remedies
Heartburn, GERD, and acid indigestion are most commonly treated with antacids or two other classes of drugs, called proton-pump inhibitors or H2 blockers, which work by reducing acid production in the stomach. However, these drugs reduce absorption of some nutrients, including vitamin B12, vitamin C, magnesium, and likely many other nutrients. The risk of becoming deficient in vitamin B12 increases sharply after two years of taking acid-blocking drugs, according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
What Not to Eat
Skip fast foods and convenience foods, as well as soft drinks. It’s unusual for people to develop upset tummies while eating wholesome natural foods.
Supplements to Try
Quite a few supplements have been shown to help with a variety of digestive complaints. Probiotics and enzymes may be the most important, and should provide some benefits for any digestive tract problem.
Perhaps the greatest damage to this environment comes from antibiotics, which destroy both good and bad bacteria, leading to diarrhea and possible secondary infections. Even worse, some research has shown that antibiotics can damage mitochondria, the energy-producing parts of cells. One recent study—the latest of many—found that high-dose probiotics halved the risk of antibiotic-induced diarrhea.
Dose: Opt for a formula that contains three or four different strains of probiotics, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, and follow label directions.
Dose: Unless you have a very specific need, select a product containing at least four to six different enzymes and follow label directions.
Dose: 1 gram three times daily.
Herbs. Several herbs have a long history of helping with digestive disorders. Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) contains mucilage, which is believed to coat the esophagus and reduce GERD- and heartburn-related pain. Marshmallow forms a protective layer in the digestive tract. DGL licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is anti-inflammatory and may ease heartburn. And ginger (Zingiber officinale), is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Dose: Products vary, so follow label directions.