When it comes to looking after your digestive health there are so many products out there to choose from – probiotics, synbiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, digestive bitters, supplements, herbs – the list goes on and on and on! With so many digestive disorders out there it can be tricky to know which products are best for relief. The process of digesting food is long and complex so sometimes our body needs a helping hand along the way. Today I’ll be taking a closer look at digestive enzymes and digestive bitters; what they are, what they do and which is better at looking after your digestive system.
Digestive enzyme supplements provide an external source of the digestive enzymes our body needs, meaning that your body is given them as an extra helping hand and doesn’t actually produce them on its own. Generally digestive enzymes come in pill form, although, if you have poor digestion already, breaking down tablets and capsules could prove to be difficult.
If you decide to try a digestible enzyme I would opt for a more easily digestible version such as Solgar’s Vegan Digestive Enzymes which are in chewable tablet form. Solgar’s Digestive Enzymes help to break down carbohydrates, fats and protein and help to ease digestive discomfort.
Alternatively, Lepicol Plus Digestive Enzyme Powder contains prebiotics to create a friendly environment for your good gut bacteria as well as digestive enzymes to help aid your bowl in digesting food. The powder format means that it can be mixed with water and directly absorbed into the bloodstream without the need for your body to break down tablets in the digestive symptom.
Digestive enzymes rarely work in isolation; they often work together with coenzymes, digestive juices and hormones in order to do their job efficiently. In other words, taking a digestive enzyme can relieve symptoms of a digestive complaint but, rarely will it fix the root of the problem that is causing the discomfort in the first place. Bitters on the other hand, aim to encourage the body to produce these hormones naturally without the assistance of external enzymes.
Digestive bitters are bitter herbs that aim to stimulate the digestive process by encouraging the secretion of digestive enzymes in the saliva. They aim to stimulate the taste buds and kick-start the digestive process by sending a signal to the rest of the body to begin producing and releasing other necessary enzymes and digestive juices for proper digestion.
Bitter taste receptors are not just found on the tongue either. Research has discovered that they pop up throughout the entire digestive system including the stomach, pancreas and intestine to help influence appetite and regulate insulin production. These taste receptors are thought to communicate with other digestive organs.
The best way to take digestive bitter herbs is in liquid or capsule form because this allows the tongue to truly taste the bitterness of the herb and activates the salivary glands. They can be taken as a preventative aid 10-15 minutes before meals or as a remedy after meals for symptoms of indigestion such as: bloating, heartburn, acid reflux, wind, abdominal discomfort, sluggish bowel and food cravings.
Banish digestive complaints with A.Vogel digestive bitters
When it comes to digestive bitters, we always recommend A.Vogel digestive bitter herbs. Cruelty free and manufactured with minimal processing and only natural ingredients A.Vogel are definitely one of our favourite brands here at Jan de Vries. A.Vogel have a range of digestive bitters to help with various problems associated with digestion.
For acid reflux or heartburn try Centaurium
This bitter herb is ideal for symptoms associated with the stomach. A.Vogel’s Centaurium is completely organic, suitable for vegans and vegetarians and free from nasty chemicals, lactose and gluten. Too little stomach acid is as bad as too much because it depletes the ability of the body to break down proteins which can cause unpleasant symptoms further down the digestive tract. Centaurium works by balancing rather than repressing the stomach acid.
For diarrhoea try Tormentil Complex
A.Vogel’s Tormentil Complex is indicated for diarrhoea that is unaccompanied by constipation. It is useful for those who suffer from IBS-D, or in instances of Traveller’s Tummy or stressful situations that may trigger excessive bowel activity. It is a good replacement for anti-diarrhoeal remedies that can often cause rebound constipation.
A.Vogel use the root of Tormentil as its tannins bind up nerve endings in the gut so that they don’t send pain messages back to the brain. In cases of diarrhoea where nerve irritation plays a large role, reducing the irritant response in the nerve endings helps to calm the gut.
Tormentil also helps to speed up the healing process; damaged, inflamed and irritated tissues within the gut are likely to cause on-going diarrhoea so speeding up the healing of tissues can help to relieve symptoms. The liquid format of Tormentil Complex means it will be absorbed even if digesting solid foods proves to be troublesome.
A.Vogel’s Tormentil Complex also contains Avena Sativa, an oat extract that can have a soothing effect on the muscles in the colon. Avena Sativa also helps to calm the nervous system in general so can help to counteract stress triggers too.
For bloating and flatulence try Digestisan
A.Vogel’s Digestisan is a combination of Dandelion, Artichoke, Boldo and Peppermint which work together to help relieve bloating, feelings of fullness and flatulence. The combination of these herbs are specially selected for supporting the liver in its processing of fats.
Dandelion can be used as a mild appetite stimulant and acts as a mild laxative to help improve digestion. Artichoke can reduce nausea and intestinal gas and lower cholesterol. Peppermint helps to relieve the discomfort of trapped wind by relaxing the muscles of your intestine. Finally, the dried Boldo leaves have a relaxant effect which stimulates the formation of bile and the emptying of the gallbladder and helps to relieve gastrointestinal cramps.
Are bitter herbs or digestive enzymes better for your digestive system?
Digestive enzymes are good for quick relief of symptoms although they often don’t address the root of the cause. On the other hand, digestive bitter herbs are not only quick-acting but the bitter taste of the herbs encourages the body to produce the digestive enzymes it needs on its own.