- Modern stresses on the gastrointestinal tract can be remediated with beneficial bacteria support.
- The ideal probiotic formula includes multiple strains, with each thriving in different locations and ways.
- Enzyme support can provide long-term health benefits by improving digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
It’s understandable why so many people experience gastrointestinal issues. From synthetic, processed foods containing so many additives, fats, sugar and carbs to digestive issues such as gluten or lactose intolerance, the consumer is understandably looking for help breaking down the components of food into absorbable nutrients for the body to use. Stress-filled lifestyles also offer no help in the natural digestive processes.
As consumers learn more about the importance of digestive health and the many GI discomforts that can occur from foods or digestive issues, it comes as no surprise that they are on the lookout for supplementation to help with healthy digestive function. Although the digestive system produces some probiotics and enzymes naturally, it wasn’t meant to take on the processed foods and modern stresses we subject it to daily.
Probiotics, beneficial bacteria
The GI tract includes the stomach, and small and large intestines. These are the primary sites of nutrient absorption and are densely populated by many beneficial and harmful living microorganisms. Beneficial bacteria support healthy digestion, promote nutrient absorption and support the elimination of toxins, as described in the 2017 fact sheet “The Gut Microbiome and Health” from Colorado State University Extension.
Supplementation with probiotics promotes efficient digestion, can help alleviate discomfort or bloating, and support proper nutrient absorption by populating the gut with beneficial bacteria. Beneficial bacteria have also been found to promote healthy elimination and healthy transit time by reducing the number of negative or toxic bacteria. This helps stabilize the extremes of constipation or diarrhea. There is also evidence that probiotics promote a healthy immune response and a stabilized immune function.1,2,3
Prebiotics are fiber-based carbohydrates that serve as an excellent food source for beneficial bacteria. They provide an added synergy for optimal digestive function and the positive role that these bacteria play in the digestive tract and our systems as a whole.4
The ideal probiotic formula delivers multiple strains of probiotics. This is preferable to single strain products because each strain serves a vital, distinct purpose. Each strain thrives in a different part of the digestive tract and works in different ways. A varied assortment of the beneficial bacteria is ideal, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifido longum, Strepococcus lactis, as well as the prebiotics Mannanoligosaccharide and Fructooligosaccharide.5
One cause for concern is how the microorganisms survive transportation and storage conditions. This is especially important, since as living organisms they may lose their benefit if not treated with proper care. Manufacturers need to be mindful of how to maintain the stability of probiotics to target delivery in the intestinal tract where they are best utilized. Issues such as moisture and heat can compromise the stability of probiotics. Transportation and storage of probiotics can affect their bioavailability, such as length of time in transport, temperature fluctuation, and exposure to moisture.6
Some species of probiotics are more temperature sensitive than others. The lifespan depends on the conditions and the activity of the organism. Lower temperatures can be helpful for the organisms to remain dormant, somewhat like hibernation. At cooler temperatures the living microorganisms are stabilized, and do not feed, metabolize, reproduce, or compete with each other.6
Probiotic supplements that are labeled as shelf stable at room temperature are processed in a way that eliminates requirements for refrigeration. Freeze drying is a common method that lengthens the shelf life because it removes moisture, thereby limiting the activity of the probiotic until it is consumed.7
Enzymes, breaking it down
Digestive enzymes promote healthy elimination and the absorption of nutrients. They are secreted in the body by the salivary glands and pancreas. Their function is to break down large macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats into smaller, more easily digested forms of these nutrients, helping them to be more easily absorbed as simpler sugars, peptides, amino acids and fatty acids. These nutrients can then be utilized by the body for energy, growth, and repair.8
Enzymes can positively impact GI tract stress by directly supporting digestion and minimizing negative gut reactions to environmental factors. Supplementing with digestive enzymes benefits digestion by supporting natural enzyme secretions during the digestive process, promoting better overall digestive capability. As digestive capability improves, essential nutrients have an increased bioavailability to the cells and tissues of the body.9
Enzymes provided in a full-spectrum form supply a combination of lipase (break down fat), protease (break down proteins), and amylase enzymes (break down carbohydrates). This combination of enzymes promotes gastrointestinal efficiency and the absorption of both macro and micronutrients from the gut into the bloodstream.10
Even though enzymes are a fast-acting ingredient, they support long-term health benefits by improving the digestion and assimilation of nutrients, which means that the cells will be more effectively nourished to support their optimal function.10
Jack Grogan is chief science officer for Uckele Health & Nutrition. He is a recognized expert in hair mineral analysis, a valuable tool in determining the causes of nutritional imbalances or deficiencies. With considerable experience in the fields of biology, biochemistry and nutrition, he has been influential in the development of hundreds of proprietary nutritional formulas and programs.
1 Miller LE, Zimmermann AK, Ouwehand AC. “Contemporary meta-analysis of short-term probiotic consumption on gastrointestinal transit.” World J Gastroenterol. 2016;22(21):5122-5131.
2 Perdigon G et al. “Immune System Stimulation by Probiotics.” J Dairy Sci. 1995;78(7):1597-1606.
3 Maheed M et al. “Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856 supplementation in the management of diarrhea predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a double blind randomized placebo controlled pilot clinical study.” Nutr J. 2016;15:21.
4 Bomba A et al. “Improvement of the probiotic effect of micro-organisms by their combination with maltodextrins, fructo-oligosaccharides and polyunsaturated fatty acid.” Br J Nutr. 2002;88(51):S95.
5 Timmerman HM et al. “Monostrain, multistrain and multispecies probiotics—A comparison of functionality and efficacy.” Int J Food Microbiol. 2004;96(3):219-233.
6 Tripathi MK et al. “Probiotic functional foods: Survival of probiotics during processing and storage.” J Funct Foods. 2014;9:225-241.
7 Murni H et al. “Effect of encapsulant and cryoprotectant on the viability of probiotic Pediococcus acidilactici ATCC 8042 during freeze-drying and exposure to high acidity, bile salts and heat.” LWT Food Sci Technol. 2017;81:210-221.
8 Janiak MC. “Digestive enzymes of human and nonhuman primates.” Evol Anthropol. 2016;25(5):253-266.
9 Roxas M. “The Role of Enzyme Supplementation in Digestive Disorders.” Altern Med Rev. 2008;13(4):307-314.
10 Whitcomb DC, Lowe ME. “Human Pancreatic Digestive Enzymes.” Dig Dis Sci. 2007;52:1-17.