When builders build a home, they usually start with a solid foundation and then work up from there. The same is true concerning taking care of your body and overall health. For example, since digestion plays a significant role in your overall health, starting with a solid digestive support foundation is key to avoiding future health problems (both digestive and other areas of health).
Before diving into the critical supplements needed for a solid digestive foundational program, let’s look at what areas the digestive system plays an integral role:
- Digestion- Breaking down food into micro-particles
- Absorption- Convert nutrients into absorbable forms
- Elimination- Remove what’s left over/toxins
- Immunity- Protect from foreign microbes either in or on your foods
- An estimated 70 percent of your immune function lies in or begins in your digestive tract
- Energy- Poor digestion has a direct link to decreased energy
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- Inflammatory Conditions- Chronic inflammation toxin buildup contributes to problems in these areas: cardiovascular, immune, ocular, structural (not just joints, but skin, bone, and muscle), nervous system, and more.
- Nutrient deficiencies- Without proper digestion, you can become deficient in essential nutrients responsible for the health of every cell in the body.
Positive Impact of Health Digestion
- Improved Immune System
- Improved Cardiovascular Health
- Improve Digestion and Digestive Tract Disorders
- Improve skin appearance
- Decreased Food allergies
- Improve nutrient absorption and utilization
- More energy
The Herbal Pharmacist®’s Foundational Digestive Program
I believe there are 4-key supplements that should be considered part of your daily supplement program to support digestive health: Fiber, Probiotics, Enzymes, and Immunoglobulins.
Fiber should never be overlooked. The average diet contains around 20 grams of fiber daily, yet we should be consuming 35+ grams per day. I taught my children that fiber is the snowplow of the colon. (makes them laugh). A friend of mine described fiber as the toothbrush of the colon. Regardless, fiber is another critical component in digestive system health. You need to supplement if you can’t get enough fiber from your diet (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc.). The most popular fiber sources are Psyllium and Flax seeds. You can also find Chia seeds, Inulin, and Glucomannan at most stores. These are excellent fiber sources, but I prefer Flax and Chia seeds to the other three. Flax and Chia are not only excellent sources of fiber but can also provide your body with other healthy nutrients. (Why not get more bang for your buck?) If you have issues with fiber supplements, you can always cheat and buy fiber bars. These bars usually contain 10-15 grams of added fiber and taste great. I prefer you to get fiber from your diet, but I also understand that many will never change their eating habits.
While on the topic of fiber, soluble fiber also plays a critical role in digestive health. Why? Soluble fibers are also considered prebiotics (“fertilizer/food” for the probiotics in your digestive tract). (Probiotics are discussed next.) If you can find a probiotic that contains a prebiotic is like using buying grass seed with a starter fertilizer added.
Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that are found in your digestive system. Probiotics serve two purposes: They finish the digestive process and help protect against pathogens (disease-causing bacteria, fungus, yeast, etc.) found in or on your food. Without enough of these beneficial bacteria, you won’t be able to fully digest your food particles into “micro” particles or convert some of those nutrients into the absorbable or usable forms the body needs. Probiotics are essential for absorbing nutrients, synthesizing Vitamin B and K, improving absorption of minerals, and helping the digestion of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber. Throw in the benefits to your immune system, and we have a winner.
If you consume non-purified water, non-organic foods, have stress, are aging, eat a high carb diet, antibiotic use, etc., these deplete Probiotics. Lack of proper levels of probiotics will lead to E. Coli and H. Pylori overgrowth. There are numerous probiotics on the market. I always look for probiotics that bypass my stomach acid (acid kills bacteria).
Digestive enzymes are used to help support the breakdown of your foods. Yes, we were created to produce the enzymes that assist in the digestion of your foods, but as with most conditions, digestive weakness increases with aging. I estimate that 70+ percent of your body’s energy goes into digesting your foods. Coming up short on enough digestive enzymes will lead to nutrient depletions and having undigested food particles slide on through. Undigested food particles are not only a waste of money but will lead to problems such as toxin buildup, flatulence, odor issues, allergies, sensitivities, and more. The primary digestive enzymes are; Protease (for proteins), Amylase (starches), Lipase (Fats), and Cellulase (Plant cell membrane). There are also targeted enzymes available for specific needs like lactose intolerance (lactase), etc. In most cases, you can find a product with a blend of these enzymes and take care of it all in one dose.
Immunoglobulins are also known as antibodies and are made by the immune system in response to a foreign substance called an antigen. Common antigens include bacteria, viruses, funguses, animal dander, abnormal cells, and toxins. The job of an Immunoglobulin is to attach to antigens so the immune system can destroy them. When an immunoglobulin binds to the antigen, it prevents the antigen from finding its target and renders it inactive.
Example: If you have a virus cell floating around in your body and it becomes attached to the right immunoglobulin (antibody), the virus-cell will be unable to attach itself to a healthy cell and infect that cell. That virus cell is then targeted by the immune system and removed.
Immunoglobulins will also attach to toxins and prevent that toxin from being absorbed into the bloodstream. We know that toxins that enter the bloodstream contribute to havoc in all areas of the body and can lead to serious health issues. If we can “neutralize,” i.e., bind toxins, we render them harmless, and they can then be removed from your body. In both instances, the immunoglobulin has effectively neutralized the foreign invader.
Immunoglobulins can also tag these same viruses, bacteria, toxins, etc., with a coating so that they can be recognized as foreign so other immune cells will recognize them and destroy them.
Example: Tagging is like spraying a criminal with bright red paint and then calling 911. The criminal is easily identified by the police when they show up and can arrest (bind) him and take him away (remove him from the city). In the case of our immune system, though, the foreign entity is marked and then ingested or destroyed by immune cells.
My favorite immunoglobulin ingredient available is ImmunoLin®. ImmunoLin® has been thoroughly studied and contains the highest percentage of IgG on the market. IgG antibodies are found in all body fluids and are the most common antibody (75% to 80%) of all the antibodies in the body. IgG antibodies are critical in fighting bacterial and viral infections. IgG antibodies protect you against infection by “remembering” which germs you were previously exposed to. If those germs come back, your immune system knows to attack them. In addition, IgG antibodies are the only antibody that can cross the placenta in a pregnant woman to help protect her baby.
A recent clinical study completed with ImmunoLin® showed it bound to some of the significant hostile players in the digestive system and a few toxins. Two, in particular, Candida albicans (often referred to as just Candida) and H. pylori. are well recognized as troublemakers for both digestive health and overall health.
- albicans is a part of the microbiome (intestinal makeup). Therefore, this fungus will not usually impact individuals with a robust immune system and a healthy microbiome. However, in those with a poor microbiome or immune weakness, C. albicans can lead to thrush, vaginal yeast infections, and topical yeast infections.[i] Harnessing (binding) this antigen is critical for those with a compromised immune system.
- H. pylori is linked to several gastric health concerns. This is because one of the toxins (CagA) is injected into the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract. Once injected into the cells, this negatively impacts the integrity of the GI lining (leaky gut), the number of cells produced, and the morphology (size, shape, structure) of those gastrointestinal cells. Therefore, the ability to bind this toxin will positively impact gut health, structure, and functionality.
The toxins studied also had a direct and negative impact on facilitating the early stages of infection, contributing to persistent issues, impairing the body from eliminating harmful bacteria, none to cause diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting.
While dozens of studies have been completed with ImmunoLin®, this one study alone is reason enough to include ImmunoLin® in your foundational digestive support program. I always like more bang for my buck, and ImmunoLin® provides added benefits for immune health. With the surge in interest in consuming a long-term immune support supplement, ImmunoLin® is also a great go-to for immune support.
This foundational digestive health program is designed to approach your digestive system and overall digestive health from four unique areas. Each is as important as the other and should become part of your everyday lifestyle. We can eat foods higher in fiber and naturally occurring probiotics (fermented foods), but we will also need to supplement with added enzymes and ImmunoLin®. Remember, let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food!
[i] Mayer FL, Wilson D, Hube B. Candida albicans pathogenicity mechanisms. Virulence. 2013 Feb 15;4(2):119-28. doi: 10.4161/viru.22913. Epub 2013 January 9. PMID: 23302789; PMCID: PMC3654610.