Digestive Health: What Your Gut is Telling You

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The Breakdown on Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are naturally present in all living organisms to aid in the digestion of food by breaking down large food carbohydrates, lipids and protein macromolecules into smaller building blocks that can be easily absorbed and utilized by the organism. The Classification of Digestive Enzymes Digestive enzymes are classified based on their target substrate, whether it is carbohydrate, lipid, or protein. Within each class of enzyme lie many types of enzymes, each targeting different substrates, and digesting them into different sizes. Proteases and peptidases break down proteins into smaller peptides and amino acids. Amino acids, the smallest building blocks of

Nutrient Supplements for the Digestive System

As research continues to grow, it becomes more evident just how crucial the integrity of the digestive system is to overall health. It is the main barrier and first defense between the outer world and inner body. From this basic standpoint, the importance of maintaining a healthy gut lining is monumental. Here is a closer look at some key nutritional therapeutics for the purpose of enhancing gut health: L-Glutamine: Maintaining Gut Integrity L-Glutamine is well known as a major fuel and nitrogen source for colonocytes, as well as a component of glutathione.1 These factors alone make it clear that the

Botanical Supplement Support for the Digestive System

Nature offers many compounds that may be beneficial for alleviating digestive disorders such as IBS, IBD, cancer, ulcers, acid reflux and others. A few of the more widely studied and successfully used natural supplements include: DGL, boswellia, mastica, curcumin, and fiber. DGL (De-glycyrrhizinated licorice) Traditionally, licorice has been used throughout history by many cultures for various diseases. It is a key component in syrups and herbal teas and is useful for treating cough and cold symptoms, as well as for a host of gastric issues, the latter due mainly for its demulcent or soothing properties. Unfortunately, while being highly effective

The World of Probiotics: Good Bugs vs. Bad Bugs

Understanding Different Strains of Bacteria, Symbiosis, and Why Many Probiotics Don’t Work The original definition of probiotics was established in 1953 but was somewhat confusing. Today, probiotics simply mean live microorganisms which when reaching the intestines in large numbers will exert positive health effects. Probiotic literally means pro-life or health promoting organisms. There are trillions of bacteria that have set up shop in our intestines (both small and large) and represent a very large and diverse group. Not all of these are friendly; there are a significant number that are hostile such as E. coli or Salmonella or Cryptosporidium that

The Ups and Downs of Heartburn

Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest that can extend to the neck, throat, and face. It is often worsened by bending over or lying down. It is the primary symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is the movement of stomach acid into the esophagus. GERD is caused by frequent acid reflux, the backup of stomach acid into the esophagus. When swallowing, the lower esophageal sphincter which is a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of the esophagus, relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach. Then it closes again. However, if

Autoimmunity and the Gut: Taking a Closer Look at Immune System Function and Celiac & IBD

Integrity of the Gut The intestines are the largest mucosal interface between the environment and us. A single layer of epithelial cells is all that separates the bloodstream and the contents of the intestines. The small intestine has the complex and crucial role of allowing nutrients inside the body while keeping bacteria, toxins, and wastes outside. The tight junctions separating the intestinal cells assume some of these functions. The tight junctions aren’t cemented as previously thought but are rather dynamic structures. Research has revealed that tight junctions are made up of a complex meshwork of proteins, the interaction of which

The Gut-Brain Connection

Have you ever experienced butterflies in the stomach before an important meeting? Does attempting to “cure” the blues with Ben and Jerry’s sound familiar? If so, then you are already acquainted with the existence of a connection between our moods and our gut. Indeed, the brain and the digestive system are linked by complex pathways where information flows back and forth on a continual basis: certain feelings and thoughts can stimulate an exaggerated gut response, while sensitized nerves in the gut can trigger changes in the brain. The Nervous System and the “Second Brain” The nervous system is a complex