We talk a lot about the importance of a varied, nutrient-dense diet here in this corner of the holistic wellness world.
But if we’re being totally honest — and we always are — comfort food will forever have a pizza of our hearts. It’s butter we acknowledge it now and taco about it rather than pretend otherwise.
So we offered holistic health advocate and self-proclaimed big-mouth, Dr. Neal, a penne for his thoughts on the matter. What do we modern humans in this precarious pickle do? Especially with a feast festival looming!
Do we forsake our favorite treats or forgo all food research in favor of delicious ignorance?
Turns out, it’s a little of both and a little of neither. Instead of going full paleo or calling the latest food science fake news, we walk the middle path — taking everything in moderation, including moderation.
So for those delightfully human moments that call for gorging on delectable, deep-fried eats, we turn to supplements. Scroll on, fellow foodie, to get the low down on 4 popular supplements for digestive health so you can have your cake and eat it, too.
In This Article:
- Probiotics for proactive gut health
- Enzymes for breaking down foods
- HCL for digestion support
- Collagen for gut lining repair
1. Probiotics: Protecting Your Gut Health Year-Round
Thanksgiving is so close, we can practically smell the platters of sweet pies and savory bites being set on the table. As we gear up for this day of sumptuous eating, there’s no better time for starting a probiotic regimen than right now.
Except for yesterday, that is!
Probiotics — AKA strains of bacteria that support the natural flora of your digestive tract — are a core facet of overall gut health. These little capsules filled with billions of beneficial microorganisms are so important, in fact, they’re part of the Vital5 for a few key reasons:
- They’re crucial for the healthy functioning of multiple bodily systems.
- They have some of the best science and data available supporting supplementation.
- Almost none of us are getting enough through our diets.
Plus, our guts are exposed to a myriad of external stressors every day — inflammatory foods, emotional distress, environmental toxins, etc. Probiotic supplements, when done right, can soothe a dysregulated gut and support healthy digestive functioning.
So really, we should have started taking our probiotics a long time ago, but today is the second-best day to launch a new supplement strategy.
If you’re nervous about reintroducing uncommon foods or trying new things this Thanksgiving, try a complete probiotic supplement to strengthen your digestive tract in advance.
2. Digestive Enzymes for Digestion Support
If you’re googling digestive enzymes in a pre-Thanksgiving panic, you’ll probably see a wide range of options and conflicting information. Some sites and suppliers call them all bunk. Others claim that enzymes are miracle cure-alls for gut health, zapping heartburn and eliminating flatulence in one fell swoop.
Here’s the truth: Digestive enzymes exist in your body already. They, like their supplement counterparts, can help your gut break down some proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
By properly assimilating these macronutrients, enzymes can help alleviate common gut issues related to improper digestion.
But enzyme supplements are distinctly not a panacea — they’re best when taken at specific times with clear, data-backed expectations in mind.
“Digestive enzyme supplements are replacing things our body doesn’t make enough of. They are not fixing any underlying problems; digestive enzymes are a temporary addition for digestion of the current meal or snack.”Dr. Neal Smoller
When taken with a meal, a high-quality and naturally derived enzyme supplement can help your gut dissolve food and absorb nutrients properly. So, if your contribution to the Thanksgiving spread is a family-size pack of digestive enzymes, make sure you’ve done your research.
Look for an enzyme supplement that comes from natural sources like bromelain from pineapple or papain from papaya — or opt for a comprehensive blend of food-based enzymes to target as many proteins, carbs, and lipids as possible.
3. HCL Supplements: Support Healthy Stomach Acid Levels
We all know that high levels of stomach acids can cause a whole host of unpleasant symptoms, like heartburn and acid reflux. But did you know that low stomach acid can be equally detrimental to your overall gut health?
HCL supplementation has been rising in popularity for this very reason.
Autoimmune diseases, chronic stress, drinking, and nutritionally bankrupt eating habits can all contribute to low acid levels. (Who among us isn’t guilty of at least one of those things?!) In turn, the subsequent decline in stomach acid production can end up causing nutrient loss, digestive issues like diarrhea, exacerbated food sensitivities, and more.
Hence, our supplement superhero, HCL.
HCL is the fun little acronym we use in the supplement world to refer to hydrochloric acid. You might also see it on vitamin labels as betaine or betaine HCL — the capsuled version of our naturally produced hydrochloric acid.
When taken strategically to combat low stomach acid, HCL supplements can support the gut’s natural digestion processes and boost nutrient absorption. They have a similar end result to enzymes, but a totally different function.
You can jumpstart your digestion with HCL supplements but don’t forget that these humble capsules are powerful tools. Find a competent healthcare professional before supplementing and invite them to your family’s Thanksgiving celebration.
4. Collagen: Repairing the Damage Done
Let’s recap: Probiotics are your go-to, pre-holiday (and year-round) supplement for a generally healthy gut. Thanks to the outer world’s constant attack on our gut, we all need them and we need them all the time.
And on the other hand, digestive enzymes and HCL supplements are your day-of support for breaking down food compounds. They’re especially helpful for those who struggle with digesting food due to a sensitive stomach or low stomach acid.
But where does collagen fit in? And isn’t that supposedly a hair, skin, and nails supplement?
The lining of our gut — you know, that thing everyone is telling you to work on repairing — is made almost entirely of collagen. Pretty neat, right? A healthy stomach lining, which is critical if you want to actually absorb nutrients from your food, starts and ends with collagen.
Collagen peptide supplements also contain amino acids like glutamine and glycine which are integral for gut lining repair. But only high-quality collagen supplements that have been minimally processed to avoid destroying these fragile compounds.
Collagen supplements can, basically, be a hangover cure for the days when you make some whisky eating decisions.
Can’t Stomach It? Call Us
We know — this was nacho typical blog on holistic nutrition and digestion supplements. We didn’t tell you to ban grains from your house or take a shot of straight apple cider vinegar every day.
What can we say? Food is one of the berry best parts of being human. (And the science behind ACV is…not grape.)
Eat well today and on Thanksgiving, knowing you’ve got industry-insider info on digestion support supplements under your belt. And if you can’t stomach the thought of diving into your meal without more direct guidance, give us a call.
You can chat all things gut health with one of our supplement experts via Counterside Consult any time — always free and always pun-free.