Digestion

Natural Help for Colic and Gassy Babies

Anyone who has had a new baby knows that it can be rough. One of the worst things is when a little one has digestive issues including gas and colic. It’s incredibly common for babies to have digestive troubles, especially around the six to eight week mark. While it’s something that most babies grow out of, there are safe, natural remedies that can help to soothe infant’s digestive problems when you’re in the thick of it.

The first we’d recommend is a specific probiotic made for infants called JarrowDophilus Infant. It contains just one strain of good bacteria, B. Infantis, which has been studied extensively for its benefits to the developing digestive tract of newborns and infants. Studies have shown that supplementing with this specific probiotic strain is associated with a reduction in gas and digestive upset in newborns and infants.

The B. Infantis strain of probiotics make up over 90% of the good bacteria found in the digestive tract of healthy, breastfed infants. It can be extremely helpful for formula fed babies or any infant with gas, constipation, colic, and any other digestive issues causing them discomfort. Probiotics, including JarrowDophilus Infant, are only beneficial, with no negative side effects. It is completely safe for daily use for babies from birth onward, and in many babies can make a real difference in helping to normalize digestive troubles.

Another product we would recommend is called Gripe Water. It’s an all natural supplement of ginger and fennel, which works incredibly well to soothe gas and colic. We’ve even had customers report that it has helped their babies to reduce hiccupping. Our Gripe Water has an easy to use dropper that can be squeezed directly into a fussy baby’s mouth. It’s definitely a great thing to have in the house if you have a newborn.

The JarrowDophilus Infant and Gripe Water can be used in conjunction without a problem. The infant probiotic is generally meant for daily use, whereas the Gripe Water is meant to be used for acute issues of gas and colic on an as needed basis.

The Many Benefits of Probiotics, the Good Bacteria Your Body Needs

There are many wonderful natural products that have all sorts of benefits, but probiotics are part of a handful of supplements which we believe are vitally important for people of all ages- they’re a group of supplements that everyone would benefit from.

Probiotics, or “good bacteria”, are best known as an aid to digestive health, where they have impressively documented benefits for helping the body to digest and process foods. Probiotics also help the body to assimilate nutrients from foods and improve nutrient availability.

Probiotics are also fantastic for the immune system, enhancing our bodies own disease fighting white blood cells. One yearlong study showed that children who took probiotic supplements had significantly fewer upper respiratory infections (colds, etc.) and had a 30 percent reduction in missed school days. Research also found similar immune system benefits for adults.

In addition to activating the immune system against illness, it appears that probiotics are also able to modulate the immune system to diminish over reactive responses to allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Interestingly, new research is also showing benefits for bone health for people who use probiotics. One new study found that in animals with hormone changes similar to what happens in women after menopause those who consumed probiotics were able to stave off bone loss compared to the group that was not given probiotics. The control group that did not use probiotics lost half their bone density compared to the probiotics who were able to retain bone density.

Also, pregnant women who use probiotics have been shown to have children with a lower incidence of eczema and atopic dermatitis. Additionally, research has suggested that pregnant women who use probiotics may have children with fewer food allergies.

Probiotics can also have benefits to overall brain health and mood. One study which was measuring the benefits of probiotics on IBS found that the probiotic takers had twice as many people that saw decreases in depression and depressive symptoms when compared with a placebo.

There are many wonderful, high-quality probiotics that we have at the store, but I wanted to specifically mention one by Flora called Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic, a probiotic which has actually won a number of different awards. Flora is a small company that makes exceptional products. They don’t come out with a ton of different “hot, new products” every year, but instead specialize in a few different areas, like probiotic supplements, where they really excel.

Flora’s Super 8 is a mix of eight well researched, scientifically identified strains that have been shown to survive in the body and form colonies.

Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic has probiotic strains that aid digestion, breaking down carbohydrates and helping to synthesize B vitamins. It also contains specific strains which have been shown in research to help inhibit the growth of bad bacteria in the colon and GI tract. Super 8 is also formulated with strains that have been found to help reduce gas formation as well as other strains that help with urinary tract health and even a strain that helps with lowering cholesterol levels!

Best of all, it’s a high potency probiotic (42 billion per pill) that is very reasonably priced, especially when compared to other probiotics at similar potencies. This September, we’ll be having our Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic on sale for 25% off, so it’s a great time to try it!

 


 

 

Papaya Enzymes for Preventing Upset Stomach this Summer

I’ve written about digestive enzymes before for people with chronic or persistent digestive issues (bloating, indigestion, etc.) on regular use can make a huge difference in symptoms. This month, however, I wanted to write about the more basic papaya enzymes, which are great for people of all ages for occasional stomach upset or overindulgence. Enzymes are nice, since they are only beneficial- there are no negative side effects. When taken with or after a meal, they help to break down foods so they are more easily digested.  

Papaya enzymes are great for times when you may eat heavier or greasy foods, or for times when you feel overly full after eating- something that happens a lot at summer BBQs or on vacations.  They’re a great thing to keep in the house or a travel bag.  Having an upset stomach is a surefire way to ruin a fun time this summer, so keeping some chewable papaya enzymes on hand is a great idea.

I’ve also found them to be extremely helpful for when my daughter complains of an upset stomach.  Many times I don’t necessarily believe that her stomach actually hurts (since it’s frequently a bedtime complaint), but giving her one chewable papaya enzyme makes her happy.  It’s something I feel completely comfortable giving her, since it is just natural enzymes from papaya, which will help to digest any food in her stomach.  Even if her “upset stomach” is just imaginary, a papaya enzyme won’t hurt at all.  In fact, enzymes on an empty stomach can even help with reducing inflammation in the body.

Papaya enzymes can also help with heartburn.  My family usually eats pizza once a week (we’re dairy free, so I make homemade pizza with Daiya mozzarella cheese shreds), and my husband had been complaining of heartburn on pizza nights.  He started taking chewable papaya enzymes- two right before he’d eat pizza and two after if needed, and he has said it has completely taken away his pizza-heartburn.

We use the chewable papaya enzymes from American Health.  The standard dose for adults is three chewables (they’re small) with a meal or as needed.  They’re good tasting and can really help.

Again, papaya enzymes are the most basic of enzymes, so while they’re a good place to start, they might not be the best choice for everyone.  I’ll link a few articles below on digestive issues and supplements that can help:

Digestive Enzymes for Bloating, Gas, and Indigestion

Natural Relief for GERD

Natural Remedies for Indigestion and Heartburn


 

Peppermint Oil Softgels for IBS

Q: I have been dealing with IBS symptoms which seem to have gotten worse lately. I have a terrible time with intestinal cramping and gas, which have made life really difficult. So you have any recommendations of something that could help?  I’m kind of desperate.

A: Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a common digestive disorder that encompasses a variety of symptoms which includes recurring abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and changes in normal bowel movement (constipation and/or diarrhea).

The first supplement I’d recommend are peppermint oil softgels. Peppermint oil is a natural antispasmodic, which means that it reduces cramping, particularly in the bowels. Peppermint oil can also help with relieving excess gas. For IBS and digestive issues, it’s important to take enteric coated softgels, softgel capsules which have a protective coating so they are able to make it to the intestines without opening in the stomach, since peppermint oil in the stomach can cause heartburn. 

One study done by the American College of Gastroenterology found that 75% of people with IBS symptoms who took peppermint oil softgels twice daily had a significant reduction in symptoms and many found the peppermint gels completely stopped their IBS problems.

We’d especially recommend the enteric coated Peppermint Gels by NOW Foods. They’re a local Illinois company, and have added a bit of ginger and fennel to the peppermint oil, which further help to soothe the digestive tract. It’s an inexpensive and effective supplement, so it’s definitely one to try if you’ve been dealing with IBS.

Other supplements that can be helpful would be probiotics, particularly Solgar’s Probi probiotics, since they contain a specific a strain that has been researched with fantastic results for helping with IBS (see our article here for more information), as well as aloe vera juice and digestive enzymes.


 

Jarrow's Bone Broth Powder: It's Amazing for Joints, Digestive Issues, and More

We have been searching for a good bone broth powder to carry in the store and have finally found one!  We now have Jarrow Bone Broth Powder for sale in the store, in both beef and chicken varieties. Powdered bone broth is much more economical than buying bone broth liquid (which we do also have at the store), and still makes a delicious, steamy mug.

Bone broth is an incredibly nutrient dense whole food. It is a natural source of type I and II collagen, which is amazing for skin and joint health. The collagen found in bone broth also contains natural forms of glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid- all nutrients which are well known for supporting the cartilage in our joints and helping arthritis-related joint pain.
Interestingly, bone broth is also incredibly healing to the digestive tract, and is something that would be particularly helpful for people with Celiac or any other digestive issues. Drinking bone broth is very comforting to the intestines, and actually helps to supply the body with specific amino acids and other natural compounds which can help to heal and repair the intestinal lining (nutrients not easily found in sufficient quantities in other foods). 

I actually went to a seminar many years ago about natural ways to help people with Celiac, and the speaker recommended simmering a variety of bones and even chicken feet for days, saying that it made a broth which he said was, “The best thing for people with Celiac disease and other digestive issues” due to the types of collagen found in such a broth. I think most of us there thought that sounded a little weird, so it’s funny how that seemingly strange advice is now becoming so well known, and now we’re hearing more and more testimonials of people who have used bone broth with impressive results for their digestive problems. 

In addition to joint, skin, and digestive health, research has even shown that bone broth can help with boosting the immune system, something we could all use as the weather turns colder.

Jarrow’s bone broth is unique in that it also has additional natural calcium and silicon, two other nutrients crucial for bone health. The type of silicon in Jarrow’s bone broth has also been clinically shown to help with reducing wrinkle depth and improving skin elasticity.

When choosing a bone broth, it’s important to use a brand you trust, since I’ve been reading more and more reports about how many bone broths on the market are not much different from regular beef or chicken broth. I trust Jarrow as a company (they make some of my favorite products) and love that they list the actual amounts of nutrients per serving (including the amounts of collagen) right on the label, so you know exactly what you’re getting.

Bone broth powder is great mixed by itself with hot water in a mug, but it can even be added to soups or other foods for an added nutrient boost. One naturopath I read an article from recommended swapping a hot cup of bone broth for one’s afternoon coffee or tea- something I think is a great idea!

Jarrow’s bone broth powder is available in both chicken and beef varieties and will be on sale for 25% off for the entire month of November.

 

 

Digestive Enzymes for Bloating, Gas, and Indigestion

Q: I’ve been experiencing a lot of gas and bloating after eating lately. I’ve been eating out at work more, which I know doesn’t help, but I just feel like so often when I eat now, the food is just sitting like a rock in my stomach. Is there anything natural you’d suggest that could help?  Maybe this is just part of getting older.

A: Absolutely there are things that can help, and the simple thing I’d recommend most would be digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes work by helping to break down the foods we eat- carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and proteins- into smaller particles that our body can use. Our bodies produce digestive enzymes naturally, though that amount decreases as we age, which is a large part of why as the years pass, many people begin to have digestive issues, when they never did before.

In nature, all animals except for humans and pets, eat their foods raw, whole, and organic, foods that contain abundant enzymes which help the digestive process. When we eat whole, fresh, raw foods, the enzymes the food naturally contains go a long way in helping our bodies to break it down for digestion.

With our modern lifestyle, however, the majority of foods we eat are cooked, stored, and processed, which destroys a large part of those beneficial enzymes. This puts the pressure on our bodies to make more enzymes and work much harder to completely digest the food we’ve eaten. Our bodies were simply not made to have to do that. They can, but over the years, digestion can become impaired, leading to digestive issues like bloating, stomach pains, and even food sensitivities or intolerances. Our pancreas and salivary glands do make enzymes, but they are meant to top off the enzymes naturally present in foods, not to be adequate on their own.

The solutions are these: number one, eat a raw food diet (something that is tricky to do and difficult to sustain in the long run), or number two, supplement with digestive enzymes.

I love digestive enzymes because they are completely safe. They do not stop your body from making its own enzymes or impair anything that the body does naturally, they only are adding additional enzymes to help the body break down foods easier.

Proper digestion is crucial for overall health, plus, it just makes life better, and enzymes are an easy way to help. Enzymes can be beneficial for everyone, whether you are having digestive issues all the time or only occasionally. For a person with chronic bloating and digestive troubles, I’d recommend an enzyme supplement with each meal. Enzymes need to be taken with your food to be work, so getting in the habit of taking enzymes when you eat can make a big difference.

I have good digestion, thankfully, but even someone without chronic digestive troubles can benefit from an enzyme supplement occasionally. I always keep a bottle in the house just in case. They’re fantastic for those times when you may have eaten too much, or when something just doesn’t agree with you.

Digestive enzymes can also be helpful for people with food sensitivities or food intolerances. Food sensitivities (which medical professionals are not saying is the correct term, rather than a food intolerance) are different than an allergy. If you have an allergy to a food, or a disease like Celiac, digestive enzymes will not help you, because it’s important to completely avoid those problem foods. In the case of a food sensitivity, however, the trouble is often that the body is unable to produce the enzymes to digest a certain food, whether it’s dairy, wheat, or what have you, which will then cause digestive distress when that food is eaten. Improper digestion of specific foods can cause, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and more. Supplementing with a full spectrum enzyme complex can help with digesting those foods, reducing or eliminating the symptoms of improper or incomplete digestion.

We have many fantastic enzyme supplements available at the store, though the one I’d recommend the most is Solgar’s Comfort Zone Digestive Complex. They’re vegetarian capsules (which I love since I hate swallowing tablets) that combine eleven different natural enzymes to which work together to break down hard to digest foods. In addition to a full spectrum of enzymes, Solgar’s Comfort Zone enzyme also contains a mixture of herbs like ginger, fennel, chamomile, and others which help to calm and soothe the stomach. For chronic digestive issues, I’d recommend taking one with each meal, though they can also be taken as needed for occasional indigestion.

Digestive enzymes are something everyone could benefit from at one time or another. I’d really recommend giving them a try if you’re suffering from digestive issues!