The digestive system plays a major role in your overall health, breaking down food into essential nutrients that every part of your body needs. By taking a proactive approach and developing a healthy routine, you can promote proper digestion and nutrient absorption for whole-body health. 

In addition to regular exercise and a balanced diet, discussing digestive health with your doctor is an essential component to a healthy routine. Asking questions is fundamental to understanding your gut, so you can take preventative measures that support optimal digestive function and healthy living.

The 12 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Digestive Health

With your gut playing such an important role to overall health, it is no surprise that there are many questions about digestive health. I want to take a moment to answer the most frequently asked questions to support your digestive health-journey.

1. How do I get a healthy gut?

The key to a healthy gut is comprehensive support. One of the most effective ways to do this is by developing a routine that incorporates balanced nutrition, healthy weight management, regular exercise, and stress management. When each of these factors is part of your day, you can support digestive health and achieve long-term health goals. 

2. Does coffee, alcohol, smoking affect gut health?

The acidic nature of coffee can cause occasional stomach discomfort. However, in moderation, coffee and caffeine can help support healthy bowel movements. Alcohol and smoking also increase acid production in the gut, and alcohol interferes with enzyme production. By limiting alcohol consumption and quitting smoking, you can maintain enzyme levels and optimal gut lining health for proper food breakdown and nutrient absorption. 

3. What are the benefits associated with a healthy gut?

A healthy gut will have a balanced and diverse microbiome. This collection of microorganisms work to support proper digestion and nutrient absorption so that every part of your body gets the nutrients it needs for optimal function. 

healthy gut microbiome

When your gut is functioning at optimal levels you can also support healthy weight management, promote normal energy, and help reduce occasional abdominal discomfort and indigestion. With 70% of your immune system living in your gut, a thriving microbiome also support healthy immune responses. 

4. Can occasional stomach discomfort affect my breathing?

Undigested food releases gas, which can cause occasional bloating. Due to the anatomical position of the diaphragm, this occasional bloating can cause occasional breathing discomfort. Additionally, undigested food can contribute to excess acid production and acid flowing back through the esophagus. The esophageal tissues are thin and sensitive to this acid, which can also cause occasional respiratory distress. 

5. What causes occasional bloating?

In addition to undigested food, occasional bloating and indigestion can occur when you eat too fast, eat a large meal, or eat too much salt. You may also experience occasional bloating when you eat foods that you have an intolerance for. With probiotic and enzyme supplemental support, you can help eliminate everyday toxins and gases and reduce occasional indigestion, bloating, and gas after eating. 

6. Is it good to take a daily probiotic?

Over 500 different bacterial strains live in your gut, and in an ideal situation, 85% or more of these are beneficial. In reality, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and occasional stress cause the balance to tip in favor of bacterial strains you don’t want. 

woman pickling vegetables

With probiotics, you can tip the gut microbiome balance in favor of the good guys. Adding a diverse and potent probiotic supplement to your daily routine can support proper digestion, help alleviate occasional indigestion, and promote sustained energy and healthy weight management.

7. Who should not take probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria and most supplements contain high counts, so individuals with immune concerns may want to avoid probiotic supplements. If you are looking to promote digestive health, speak with your doctor about your current health and adding a probiotic supplement to your routine. 

8. How long can I take probiotics?

Probiotic supplements from a reputable manufacturer, made according to the current FDA good manufacturing practices, are considered safe for adults and long-term use. Talk with your doctor about adding a probiotic supplement to your routine and take as long as you need or as advised by your doctor. 

9. What are prebiotics, and should I take them?

Prebiotics are fibers that nourish probiotics to support a healthy microbiome balance. Most prebiotics come in the form of an indigestible fiber that the body cannot process but the “good” bacteria in your intestines can. After being fermented by your gut bacteria, the prebiotic travels to the large intestine to nourish the colonies living there. This cycle is sustainable for healthy support of optimal digestive function and nutrient absorption. 

10. What are the most important digestive enzymes?

Amylase is responsible for breaking down carbohydrates into simple sugars that your body can utilize. It is produced by the salivary glands and pancreas and can also be found in raw vegetables, nuts, fermented foods, and bananas.

bananas and nuts

Protease, produced by the stomach and pancreas, help break down proteins into usable amino acids. Lipase, found in the pancreas and small intestine, breaks down fats into glycerol and fatty acids, to be used for normal energy and nutrient absorption support.

11. Do digestive enzymes cause occasional gas?

It is possible to experience occasional indigestion and bloating when a digestive enzyme supplement is first introduced to your system. As the food is broken down properly, nutrients are efficiently delivered to support probiotic activity in the gut. With proper nourishment, your digestive system is supported and working more efficiently, which may produce temporary occasional gas.

12. What are the benefits of digestive enzymes?

Digestive enzymes are responsible for braking down the food you consume into smaller, usable nutrients. Once properly broken down, your body can efficiently absorb nutrients to deliver them through the body where needed. By supporting proper digestive processes, digestive enzymes also help maintain normal energy and can help reduce occasional indigestion, gas, and bloating.

Taking Supplements for Gut Health

Probiotics are often considered the go-to support for gut health. For additional support, you can add prebiotic and enzyme supplements to your routine. I worked closely with the 1MD Nutrition® team to formulate PrebioMD® and EnzymeMD® for comprehensive support of your digestive health. 

PrebioMD® is a doctor-formulated prebiotic supplement offering a clinical dose of a patented prebiotic to promote a balanced microflora, aid nutrient digestion and absorption, and support immune system health.

EnzymeMD® is a doctor-formulated combination of 18 highly potent, plant-based digestive enzymes and a powerful probiotic to support proper breakdown of food, help reduce occasional indigestion, and promote long-term digestive health.

Final Thoughts

Knowledge is essential in the promotion of overall health, and it is important to discuss gut health with your doctor. By asking questions, you can get the information you need. Once armed with the facts, you can ensure that your daily routine includes the right nutrition, exercise, and habits for optimal digestive function and whole-body health.

Dr. David Kahana

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Dr. David Kahana is board certified in Pediatrics and Gastroenterology through the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), as well as Medical Nutrition through the National Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists.