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With so much out there for digestion and gut health support these days, it’s tough to know what blends are worth giving a try — never mind the subtle nuances between each type of digestive formula. As someone who has had a loooooong gut health journey (it’s the whole reason I started my herbalism career!), I’ve done my due diligence when it comes to being an informed consumer – ie, the *why* behind each type of supplemental aide / how they uniquely interact with our physiology. I’ve found that for so many people, myself included, taking a top down approach (meaning supporting our own digestive process from start to finish with a gentle prompt) is often the best way to begin, which means utilizing digestive bitters that our bodies can recognize and work with to get our digestive juices flowing.

When that doesn’t seem to be enough to do the trick, more intensive gut health measures (like supplementing with probiotics to compensate for diverse strains we may be missing that are crucial for digestion – or even going a step further and utilizing enzymes), may be what’s needed to get your digestive health back on track.

Here are the 4 most common types of gut-focused supplements, and what makes each one unique!

1. Probiotics: Probiotics are key players in gastrointestinal health, promoting gut barrier integrity and a healthy immune response within the GI tract and beyond. Probiotics are here to help when looking to support foundational immune health and digestive optimization, especially for those with a history of interventions that alter gut biome diversity.

2. Prebiotics: We all need prebiotics daily, which you can get through varied plant fibers in your diet and prebiotic supplements. Prebiotic supplements work well for those looking to enrich gut diversity by supporting the existing species that may need more love and care to thrive, especially those experiencing occasional constipation.

3. Enzymes: Digestive enzymes support enhanced fat, protein, carbohydrate, fiber and dairy digestion in those who deal with occasional gas, bloating, or constipation. We find digestive enzymes to be helpful for those who feel sluggish post meal and have skin concerns related to sub-optimal digestion.

4. Digestive Bitters: We love incorporating bitters to help signal the production of your very own digestive enzymes. This is the most traditional, time-tested option, and a great place to start when beginning your gut health journey, especially when eating out or traveling.

If you’re:

  • someone who doesn’t get a ton of fiber or diversity of veggies in their diet, look into the power of #2, prebiotics. You can get them through diet, utilize a prebiotic powder in your smoothies, or utilize a probiotic that contains a prebiotic blend.
  • someone who gets enough fiber but has a history of antibiotic use, #1, probiotics may be your ideal strategy to encourage repopulation of key strains.
  • someone who forgets to eat enough throughout the day and ends up eating a huge meal in the evening that feels like it’s just sitting there – enzymes may be able to help here with improving digestive comfort until you’re back on a more consistent eating schedule…
  • someone who wants to go as natural + top-down as possible, supporting their own physiology and digestive secretions: try the time tested power of digestive bitters, #4!

While there are so many wonderful probiotics on the market, I personally formulated my very own with #1-#3 to make it as comprehensive as possible. We call it “Not Your Average” Probiotic and it truly changed my life. I am of course a fan of other formulations, though, so look around, research different strains and see what feels best for you! We also have a digestive bitters formula called Digestive Juice, but you can even utilize green tea or a long steep of chamomile tea as a ‘kitchen medicine’ digestive bitter pre-meal. The longer you steep chamomile tea, the more bitter it gets, so if you’re only drinking it for enjoyment or calming make sure not to brew it longer than 5 minutes. If you’re using it medicinally for digestive, leave it for 10 minutes or more. x

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