5 Supplements That Aid Digestion

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Somewhere between the bandages and pain relievers, your medicine cabinet already may be stocked with supplements that aid digestive health. Certain supplements help prevent tummy troubles, while others come to your rescue when issues arise.

Check this list of five items to learn how digestion-friendly supplements might be able to help you.

1. Fiber supplements

Fiber in your diet helps keep stool soft so it can travel easily through your intestines. When you don’t get enough fiber, stool can become hard and difficult to pass, resulting in constipation.

The American Dietetic Association recommends consuming 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day, but most Americans get only 5 to 14 grams. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and grains is a great way to increase your intake. Fiber supplements can also help. When you take them with water, the supplements retain the water in your intestine and soften stool.

2. Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria similar to the healthy bacteria that naturally exist in your gut. The supplements are used for a wide range of gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease. Probiotics may help in several ways: They produce substances that wipe out or limit the growth of harmful bacteria, and they may boost your body’s immune response to fight infections. The most common probiotics used in the U.S. are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

3. Digestive aids

If certain foods such as beans or vegetables give you gas, taking Beano or a similar product can help. It contains the enzyme alpha-galactosidase, which digests the sugar found in beans and many veggies that makes you feel gassy after eating them.

4. Lactase

Sold as either tablets or drops, lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose, a sugar in milk and milk products. If you have lactose intolerance, you have a deficiency of this enzyme, so taking lactase supplements can help when you consume lactose-containing foods. Ask your doctor whether lactase is right for you.

5. Antacids

Although antacids don’t cure heartburn, they can help reduce its symptoms. Most antacids contain magnesium, calcium, or aluminum, along with hydroxide or bicarbonate ions to neutralize the acidic storm brewing in your stomach. Talk with your doctor if you’ve been taking antacids for more than two weeks. It could be a sign that a more serious condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is causing your problems. More effective medical therapies are available to treat GERD.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Sep 4

  1. Constipation. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/constipation/

  2. Gas in the Digestive Tract. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gas/

  3. Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/

  4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/ibs/

  5. Lactose Intolerance. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/lactoseintolerance/

  6. Using Dietary Supplements Wisely. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/supplements/wiseuse.htm

  7. Oral Probiotics: An Introduction. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://www.nccam.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm

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