Go With Your Gut
How it works: A true multitasker, this age-old herbal remedy is a wonderful digestive tonic. Its mild bitter taste increases salivation, which primes the GI tract for digestion. The herb also increases bile flow and hydrochloric acid production (both crucial for digestion), supports the liver’s detoxing functions, and increases the production of digestive enzymes. Regular use is great for people who have trouble digesting fats, which can lead to liver problems, or who experience constipation, says Gilday.
How to take it: Mix 1∕2 teaspoon of dandelion root tincture in warm water and drink about 15 minutes before meals.
How they work: The body’s digestive enzymes help break down food into components that our cells can use, says Wong. Because many people are enzyme deficient, supplemental enzymes help with nutrient absorption. Taken with meals, these extra enzymes help foods be more fully digested, easing a wide range of symptoms, including gas and bloating, heartburn and indigestion. They can also be beneficial for people with food sensitivities or intolerances, because allowing for more complete digestion of food lessens irritation in the small intestine.
How to take it: Look for a broadspectrum enzyme supplement (with lipases for fat digestion, proteases for protein digestion and amylases for carbohydrate digestion), and take with meals three times a day.
How it works: The essential oil of the peppermint plant has antispasmodic properties, says Wong. This helps relax the digestive system’s muscles, which can prevent the onset of bloating and gas. Peppermint oil has been shown to ease IBS, and also helps probiotics colonize.
How to take it: Look for entericcoated peppermint oil (the coating keeps the oil from being released in the stomach, which can cause heartburn). Take one or two 0.2- milliliter capsules a day, after meals.
How it works: This classic Ayurvedic remedy helps with digestion, absorption and elimination. It’s also a prebiotic, which helps the good flora in the body flourish. Triphala also boosts agni and helps the body detoxify by regulating bowel function, protecting the intestines against inflammation due to toxin damage and protecting and supporting the liver.
How to take it: Triphala comes in powder or capsule form. Take 1∕2 teaspoon of the powder once or twice a day, mixed in water, or 1,000 milligrams in capsule or tablet form. (Do not take it if you’re pregnant.)