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Wave goodbye to bloating, wind and constipation with your guide to the best supplements for the digestive system

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Digestive system, or gut, problems are one of the most common health issues. This isn't surprising. The gut is around four metres long and works night and day to absorb nutrients, discard waste and keep our bodies working smoothly. The good news is that a wealth of supplements is available to support digestive health.

🕒 5 min read

Probiotic bacteria

Gut bacteria are essential to break down the fibre we can't digest, the most important being lactic acid-secreting bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.

As well as promoting good digestion, research has shown that these helpful 'probiotic' bacteria may discourage gas-forming bacteria, stimulate the immune system and increase resistance to respiratory infections.

To boost levels of such 'friendly' bacteria, eat probiotic foods such as live (bio) yoghurt and consider a probiotic supplement that provides clinically researched bacteria strains.

Find out more about probiotics.

"There are many things that can disrupt the natural balance of friendly bacteria in your gut… stress, antibiotics, gastroenteritis, or food poisoning. Evidence shows that probiotics can be helpful in restoring a healthy balance and ease the symptoms of indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal infection, particularly in the elderly." Dr Hilary Jones

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Digestive enzymes

The human body produces 22 digestive enzymes, which help break down the foods we ingest. They are divided into three main groups: proteases help break down protein, amylases break down carbohydrate, and lipases break down fats.

As we get older, our output of digestive enzymes decreases, and a lack of digestive enzymes has been linked to problems such as bloating, wind, heartburn and indigestion. A digestive enzyme supplement can improve your ability to digest fats, carbohydrates and proteins, and those containing lactase can help you digest dairy.

Find out more about how digestive enzymes can help your digestive system.

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  • Expertly formulated blend of naturally occurring digestive enzymes
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Digestive fibre

Fibre feeds our digestive bacteria and absorbs fluid to provide bulk and promote regular bowel action. Fibre also acts like a sponge, absorbing toxins, glucose and fats, so they are processed more easily.

To get the recommended 30g fibre per day, eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables. Psyllium seeds are among the most effective natural fibre supplements, thanks to their gel-like soluble fibre that causes them swell to between eight and 14 times their original volume when mixed with water.

Read a nutritionist's guide to why fibre is important.

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Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal has been used for a long time to combat flatulence; a 19th-century medical textbook recommends it for absorbing 'noxious and offensive gases.'

More recently, research into activated charcoal has led the European Food Safety Authority to approve a health claim for activated charcoal: that it 'contributes to reducing excessive flatulence after eating.'

Activated charcoal has a sponge-like structure with a huge surface area containing thousands of tiny holes. These holes trap gases, such as those produced by the digestive system, so they can be expelled by the body in a more comfortable way.

Find out more about how activated charcoal can help digestion and flatulence.

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Reduces excessive flatulence after eating

  • Relieve post-meal discomfort and avoid embarrassment from excess gas
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This vibrant spice has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Its main component, curcumin, has been shown in studies to reduce inflammation, while other research has also shown that it may boost liver function and support digestion.

It may be especially helpful for treating abdominal pain that is caused by IBS.

Find out more about the benefits of turmeric for digestion.

"Science is now confirming that turmeric, used for thousands of years in India and which contains natural compounds called curcuminoids, has significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may encourage normal digestion and ease abdominal discomfort." Dr Hilary Jones

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Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a succulent plant originating in Oman, but now cultivated around the world. It is widely used as a digestive tonic, with research showing that it can soothe intestinal conditions such as IBS and constipation. It contains natural plant sterols that help to reduce inflammation, swelling and pain.

When used as part of a heartburn relief product, aloe vera can form a protective coating over the stomach and oesophagus to protect against gastric acids.

Find out more about heartburn and reflux and what you can do to help.

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Globe artichoke

Globe artichoke has numerous benefits for digestion. It stimulates bile production in the liver to improve digestion of fats and relieve bloating, and it's also a source of inulin, a prebiotic fibre that stimulates beneficial digestive bacteria.

Research has also shown that artichoke supplements can reduce symptoms of bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain and constipation in cases of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

"This edible plant can work as an aid to good digestion and improve liver health. It is a cholagogue, which means it can stimulate the flow of bile from the liver to the gut and promote the efficient metabolism of fat in the diet.

As such, it may reduce symptoms of hampered fat digestion such as bloating, abdominal cramps and wind." Dr Hilary Jones

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Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil is a rich source of menthol, an essential oil that research has shown reduces pain and relieves intestinal spasm, especially in cases of IBS. Peppermint also aids digestion by stimulating secretion of digestive juices and bile, and reduces flatulence.

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Helps to support healthy digestion

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  • Helps to support a healthy digestive system and stomach
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Milk thistle

In the UK, therapeutic doses of milk thistle are classed as a Traditional Herbal Remedy (THR), licensed to treat over-indulgence, indigestion and upset stomach.

In lower doses, combined with other key nutrients, such as choline, they can help support digestion and maintain normal liver function and bile production.

Find out more about the health benefits of milk thistle.

"Milk thistle, so called because of the white veins on its large prickly leaves, produces seeds containing silymarin, which possesses antioxidant and digestion-enhancing properties. The French traditionally refer to that post-hangover feeling as a "crise de foie" … a liver crisis. Milk thistle has been used for centuries as a natural detoxifier, which helps the liver to filter out and eradicate toxins, including alcohol." Dr Hilary Jones

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Milk thistle extract with B vitamins, calcium and choline to support your digestive system and liver function

  • 50mg milk thistle extract equivalent to 1,200mg milk thistle seeds
  • With added calcium for the normal function of digestive enzymes and choline for liver function
  • Added B vitamins reduce fatigue
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Ginger is one of the most effective natural remedies for nausea, and can be used to treat morning sickness and to prevent postoperative nausea and motion sickness. It has natural pain-relieving anti-inflammatory actions that can help reduce symptoms of gastroenteritis.

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Ginger Extract

Equivalent to 12,000mg of whole ginger root

  • Helps to support digestion
  • Providing 20mg gingerols
  • Standardised extract
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