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Can a herbal supplement help keep your digestive system healthy

MAINTAINING YOUR digestive system is central to protecting your health and vitality. If you don't take good care of your digestive system, your body will find it hard to extract energy from the food you eat, leaving you lacking in energy. A weak digestive system will also leave you more prone to disease and infection.

Digestion works by moving food through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract - this is made up of your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. Digestion begins in your mouth when you chew your food and ends in your intestines. As your food passes through your GI tract, it mixes with digestive juices, causing large molecules of food to break down into smaller molecules.

The body then absorbs these smaller molecules through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream, which delivers them to the rest of the body. Waste products of digestion pass through the large intestine and out of the body.

How do bacteria help?

Bacteria in your intestines (sometimes known as gut flora) help with the digestive process and boost your immune system. These bacteria can be damaged or depleted by illness, infection or by prolonged poor diet. You can help by eating a healthy diet, minimising stress and eating pro- biotic foods such as yoghurts.

How can I tell if my digestive system is healthy?

If you suffer with constipation, bloating, stomach or intestinal pain, then is it likely that your digestive system is becoming clogged with undigested food. As many of us now eat a diet which is very low in fibre, this can build up in our intestinal tract and cause slowing or even a blockage. This is what leads to constipation, bloating and stomach pain - it can also be a breeding ground for disease. It also means that your body will find it much harder to extract energy from the food you eat leaving you lacking energy and prone to infection.

What can I do to improve my digestive health?

Diet is by far the most important factor in digestive health - you will always get out what you put in! Make sure you eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day and try to include some high fibre foods (like bran or brown rice) in your diet. One word of warning - try to increase the amount of fibre in your diet gradually. A sudden change to a high fibre diet can cause bloating and intestinal pain. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water as this will your guts to remove any blockages.

What should I look out for in digestive supplements?

There are literally thousands of supplements out there which promise to keep your digestive system in top condition, but before you buy make sure they contain the following:

Psyllium Husk

Psyllium is the husk of the seed of the Plantain and is packed with fibre so is considered the ultimate source of natural soluble fibre.

Aloe Vera

Used in traditional medicine to treat constipation and soothe intestinal ulcers this powerful plant extract has been show to have a wide range of health benefits.


This friendly bacteria is found naturally as part of your gut flora and is well proven to benefit intestinal health by helping to remove toxins and assist breaking down food.

Kelp powder

Kelp is an incredibly powerful natural source of iodine. Iodine is vital to help regulate your metabolism, but your body cannot produce iodine or store it. Kelp powder also helps to absorb toxic substances from your bowel and help pass them out of your body.

Clove powder

Cloves help stimulate sluggish circulation and thereby promote digestion and metabolism.

Red Clover

Red Clover is well known for promoting intestinal health and boosting your metabolism.

Yellow Dock

Valued for its high iron content and blood purifying properties, Yellow Dock helps reduce intestinal inflammation and treat stomach ulcers.

Magnesium citrate

Magnesium citrate is the most easily absorbed form of magnesium. It has been shown to boost your metabolic rate and also fights tiredness and fatigue.