Some supplements to consider for digestive health

You can never underestimate the importance of staying “regular” as the old expression goes. If you’re coping with chronic bouts of constipation, diarrhea or even more serious digestive problems, you may want to change your diet.

Health magazine and other sources have put together comprehensive lists of the worst foods for digestion. Some of them aren’t too surprising, as they’re also said to be detrimental to cardiovascular health. These include foods that are high in fat, especially those that are of the deep-fried variety. Jessica Anderson, R.D., from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center noted that foods containing an excess of the wrong kind of fat can contribute to heart burn and acid reflux. Spicy foods – specifically chili peppers – and alcohol can both have a similar effect when it comes to heartburn. The magazine also links caffeine to some stomach problems – including cramping and diarrhea.

Some research – particularly an almost decade-long Swedish study cited by Women’s Health magazine – showed that chocolate may have benefits for heart health, Health magazine points to a different 2005 study, which indicates that chocolate my not be the best thing for people with irritable bowel syndrome on ongoing constipation. Although, the source also points out that this may be related to the diary content of chocolate, which could be problematic for those who are lactose intolerant.

On the other hand, there are also foods that could improve digestive health. LifeScript encourages people who are having some tummy troubles to eat more yogurt for its probiotic content. The bacteria in yogurt, which the source describes as “good bugs” help the bacteria that’s already in your stomach move digestion along. However, the site suggests avoiding yogurt that’s high in sugar, and sticking to yogurt that contains “active” or “live” bacteria cultures. Whole grains, fruits and vegetable are also pointed out by multiple sources as beneficial for digestion.

But as far as supplements go, here are a few that appear on more than one experts’ list as the best for digestion.

Fiber has been known for its ability to keep materials moving through the digestive track, and is said to help keep the bad kind of bacteria and other potentially harmful substances from staying in your system for too long according to the Digestive Food Guide. Meanwhile, The Mayo Clinic describes fiber as “essential” for keep digestive systems in tip-top shape. Not only can fiber go a long way toward preventing constipation, it also has been known to aid with weight management and reduces the odds of developing diabetes.

Vitamin B
An unabashedly well-rounded nutrient, different varieties of vitamin B are cited by Everyday Health as having some particular benefits for the digestive system. While B1, B2 and B6 are noted for their ability to help digestion, B3 may be the most significant for deconstructing food, according to the source. B3 – also called niacin – is pointed out as having abilities to help process alcohol, carbohydrates and fats.

Vitamin D and vitamin C
Everyday Health also explains that, while vitamin C and vitamin D may not have direct benefits to digestive health, they could help improve many indirectly related factors – such as dental health. After all, being able to thoroughly chew your food only makes it easier to digest, and strong teeth may be linked to consuming plenty of vitamin C and vitamin D. In addition, vitamin C makes it easier to absorb iron, while getting the recommend amount of vitamin D – which one billion people on earth don’t do, according to the source –  can reduce the odds of developing colon cancer.

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