Sometimes we need a boost to give us extra support on our way to optimal health. It can be something that we do (or take) daily to make a consistent lasting impact, or it might be something that provides temporary support when needed. When it comes to digestive health, there are dietary supplements that can help with both of these approaches.
How can probiotics help?
You may have heard about probiotics and wondered if you should be taking them. The topic of probiotics can be confusing, so learning the basics is a good place to start.
Probiotics are the beneficial, or “good,” bacteria that can support our digestion and immune health.† When you take a probiotic supplement, you’re adding a beneficial infusion into the whole community of bacteria, called the microbiome, that resides in your gut. The microbiome is not a static community of bacteria. It changes over time, and can be impacted by such factors as diet, medication use and stress.
People take probiotics for many individual reasons such as promoting bowel regularity or keeping the immune system strong.†
A line of probiotics will usually be offered at varying potencies, or CFUs, which stands for ‘colony forming unit. This is the unit of measurement commonly used to indicate the amount of viable bacteria in a probiotic supplement.
Different potencies may be appropriate for different individuals and their unique needs. For example, many people choose to go with a higher potency probiotic when traveling or when seeking additional immune support during times of stress or illness.†
Are digestive enzymes right for you?
Another way to give your digestion a boost can be through the use of digestive enzymes, when appropriate.† Digestive enzymes help break down large food components into their smaller building blocks so that they can be absorbed by the body (think amino acids from protein for example).
The human body is quite capable of producing digestive enzymes when the gastrointestinal system is functioning optimally, yet sometimes extra support is needed.† Digestive enzymes often fall under the category of a temporary boost, to utilize while you are working on identifying an underlying cause.
When looking for a comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement, one essential factor to consider is a blend that includes enzymes for multiple stages of protein, carbohydrate and lipid digestion.
As always, it’s important to consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning any new supplement.
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Article contributed by Erin Stokes, N.D., Medical Director at digestive health,. Dr. Stokes received her naturopathic doctor degree from Bastyr University in 2001. Shortly afterwards she began to pursue her passion for educating others by teaching Western Pathology and Psychology of Healing at Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colo. She combines her experience as a naturopathic doctor with an extensive background in the natural retail industry, most recently providing naturopathic consultations at an integrative pharmacy for over six years. Her personal mission is to empower people with the inspiration and tools to change their lives, and she is a frequent radio show and podcast guest. Dr. Stokes is a registered Naturopathic Doctor in Colorado, and lives with her family in Boulder, Colo.