Your digestive system is made up of several tubelike organs that take the food you consume and turn it into useable energy for your body. National Geographic reports that the average person's digestive tract stretches about 30 feet when measured from your mouth to your anus. Your mouth, esophagus, stomach and small and large intestines are all part of your digestive system. Certain nutritional supplements may help improve your digestion, although you should always clear the use of supplements with your doctor before using them.
Digestive problems, or disorders, are a common occurrence among Americans, affecting millions of people in the United States every year, notes the Ohio State University Medical Center. Digestive problems can arise in any of your digestive organs, including your pancreas, liver and gallbladder -- organs that manufacture substances that help with the breakdown of food into its component parts. The Center states that most digestive diseases are complex and that the cause of many of these conditions is not yet known.
Supplements are a time-honored treatment method for improving your digestion and treating numerous digestive disorders. Dietary supplements that improve your digestion are also known as digestants, states Dr. William A. Mitchell Jr., a naturopathic physician and author of "Plant Medicine in Practice," and these substances may contain digestive enzymes or stimulate the production of digestive enzymes. Examples of digestants, notes Mitchell, are hydrochloric acid, ingluven, papaya, pepsin, taka-diastase, pancreatin and pineapple. Not all supplements used in improving digestion have been thoroughly researched in a controlled setting.
A Helpful Supplement
Hydrochloric acid, a substance found in your stomach, may be a helpful supplement in improving your digestion. According to certified nutritional consultant Phyllis A. Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," hydrochloric acid comes in several different forms, including lysine hydrochloric acid and betaine hydrochloric acid. This substance helps break down your food and encourages your pancreas to produce digestive enzymes. Balch notes that hydrochloric acid supplements may be most effective if they are taken before meals.
Digestive problems can have a significant effect on your long-term health and well-being. If you suffer from digestive problems, do not delay seeking treatment for your condition. A qualified and competent healthcare practitioner can assess your condition, order relevant tests, provide you with an accurate diagnosis and suggest various treatments that may be beneficial in treating your health complaint. Exercise caution when using dietary supplements, and only use supplements if you are under the care of a licensed healthcare professional.
- National Geographic: Digestive System
- Ohio State University Medical Center: Digestive Disorders
- "Plant Medicine in Practice"; William A. Mitchell Jr., N.D.; 2003
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, CNC; 2010