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supplements for sensitive stomachs: making protein smoothie

Five Foundational Supplements For People With Sensitive Stomachs

Going about daily life with a sensitive stomach can feel like a tightrope walk; each meal has the potential to throw you completely off balance. For those with digestive health concerns and/or dietary restrictions (whether due to allergies, intolerances, or personal choice), the quest for proper nutrition and optimal health often involves supplements. But here’s the catch: Sensitive digestive systems can struggle to tolerate and absorb many common supplement forms, adding another layer of complication to an already complicated journey.

If you struggle with recurring digestive issues, the right supplements can make a huge difference in how well you feel and absorb nutrients by strengthening your gut lining, promoting a balanced digestive system, and boosting overall well-being. 

Here, we’ll introduce the supplements experts specifically recommend for delicate digestive systems. Whether you’re battling occasional discomfort or managing a chronic condition, these powerful allies could help fortify your gut health, support energy and overall well-being, and help you give frustrating symptoms the boot.

For Supporting Gut Integrity: Collagen

Collagen is a structural protein that helps maintain gut health and integrity and supports joint comfort and skin elasticity. As we age or face digestive challenges, our body’s natural collagen production declines, which affects the lining of the digestive tract. 

Collagen peptides—and especially hydrolyzed collagen—which are easily absorbed and provide essential amino acids like glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline can be particularly beneficial in these cases, suggests Dr. Joshua Axe, D.N.M., C.N., N.M.D., a doctor of natural medicine, nutritionist, and founder of Ancient Nutrition. These amino acids are integral for intestinal barrier repair, maintaining inflammatory balance, and optimal digestion with less bloating or indigestion, he explains.

Read More: The 8 Most Gut-Friendly Foods On The Planet

Incorporating collagen powder or capsules (which are typically tasteless and easy to use) into your daily routine is one simple way to support overall gut health and enhance the body’s ability to maintain a healthy digestive tract and gut environment.

For Restoring Microbiome Balance: Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide numerous health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. Dr. Daniel Nuzum, N.M.D., a naturopathic medicine doctor and gut health expert, recommends probiotics for those experiencing leaky gut or other chronic digestive issues. 

These “good guy” bacteria help restore and maintain a healthy balance in the gut microbiome by crowding out harmful microbes that can mess with digestion, he explains. Balancing the gut microbiome can ward off symptoms like bloating, constipation, and diarrhea—and assist in immune function and nutrient absorption.

Nuzum recommends first focusing on improving your diet (think increased fiber intake and emphasis on anti-inflammatory foods), having regular movements, and taking digestive enzymes, all of which stabilize your gut, before introducing probiotics.

Read More: The Best (And Worst) Foods To Eat If You Have IBS

Once you’ve got those things down, you’re ready to introduce a probiotic, he suggests. The key to success here is to choose the right probiotic strains and use them at the right time. Look for a probiotic product containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, which are well-researched for their digestive benefits, says Nuzum. Try taking your probiotics on an empty stomach in the morning and gauge any incremental digestive benefits.

In addition to supplements, you can also consume probiotics via fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, all of which provide a food-based way to alleviate digestive discomfort. 

For Enhancing Nutrient Absorption and Decreasing Indigestion: Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes, which the body naturally produces (when functioning optimally), play a critical role in breaking down the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in foods into smaller molecules that the body can easily absorb. 

For people with sensitive stomachs or certain digestive disorders that mess with enzyme production, supplementing with digestive enzymes can aid in the digestion of complex foods and alleviate symptoms like bloating, cramping, heartburn, and indigestion.

Nuzum recommends digestive enzyme supplements that contain a blend of proteases, lipases, and amylases to support overall digestive function. These enzymes assist the body in efficiently processing nutrients, reducing the strain on the digestive system and promoting better nutrient absorption. 

Taking digestive enzymes before meals, especially those containing hard-to-digest foods like legumes, grains, or dairy, can optimize digestion and improve gastrointestinal comfort, he explains.

To Promote Regularity: Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including muscle relaxation, bowel movements, nerve function, and energy production. 

Some forms of supplemental magnesium, such as magnesium citrate or magnesium oxide, may cause digestive upset or diarrhea, particularly in sensitive folks. That’s why naturopathic doctor Jolene Brighten, N.D., suggests that people with sensitive stomachs opt for magnesium glycinate, a form of magnesium bound to glycine that’s known for its superior bioavailability and minimal gastrointestinal side effects. 

This gentle form of magnesium can support muscle relaxation, stress reduction, restorative sleep, and bowel regularity, she explains. Since digestive struggles and stress often go hand in hand, the potential benefits of adding magnesium glycinate to your routine are many.

For Improving Nutrient Intake and Utilization: A Food-Based Or Fermented Multivitamin

Eating a balanced diet that’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from whole, unprocessed foods is priority number one for maintaining overall health and supporting digestive function. That said, checking all your nutritional boxes at mealtime isn’t always possible, so many people add multivitamins to their routine to help bridge nutritional gaps. 

If you’re taking extra care to support a testy digestive system, opt for a multi made with food-based and/or fermented ingredients, suggest Axe and Brighten. 

Food-based multivitamins typically contain nutrients derived from whole foods or food concentrates, Axe explains. This means they provide vitamins and minerals in forms that mirror what you would get from eating whole foods directly—and that their nutrients may be better digested and absorbed than the synthetic versions of the nutrients found in traditional multivitamins. Food-based multis often also include cofactors and phytonutrients that work synergistically with their vitamins and minerals, offering more comprehensive nutritional support.

Meanwhile, high-quality multivitamins may feature fermented nutrients (you’ll often find fermented B vitamins and certain minerals, like iron) that undergo a fermentation process in which beneficial bacteria or yeast cultures break them down into a more bioavailable form that is easier for the body to absorb, according to Axe and Brighten. 

Swapping the typical multivitamin for these more bioavailable options can help ensure you get the most nutritional benefit (with the least potential for digestive upset) from your daily routine. (These options from plnt brand and Codeage feature whole-food ingredients and are fermented.)

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