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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What supplements can improve digestion?

    Related Topic
    My 14 year old son experiences constipation quite frequently. Apart from a healthy diet, what supplements can help improve his digestion?
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  • Dr Michael Elstein

    GP (General Practitioner)

    I am an anti-ageing/wellness expert and author of ‘Eternal Health,’ and ‘You have the power.’ I have appeared on radio and television and currently have … View Profile

    Having him medically assessed would be the best way to deal with this problem.  For example he might be suffering from coeliac disease or gluten intolerance and this can be assessed by means of the appropriate tests.  Physical inactivity,  inadequate fibre intake, underactive thyroid hormone function,  psychological factors and possible anatomical abnormalities, although rare, are all associated with constipation, and at least some of these would need medical evaluation. 
     There is evidence for and against probiotics, as presented below.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22025880

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20039451

  • Lyn Christian

    Nutritionist

    As a Naturopath and Nutritionist I am passionate about the promotion of health using functional foods to correct nutrient imbalances.All health conditions need to be … View Profile

    Firstly, any underlying cause must be investigated. Allergies, Food Intolerances, side effects of medications, iron supplements, anatomical strictures, anxiety, gut dysbiosis and lack of exercise are common causes or contributing factors of constipation.

    It is much safer to resolve constipation with natural foods rather than chemical laxatives. Long term laxative use can result in laxative dependence where the bowel no longer evacuates until a laxative is taken.

    Nutritionally, there are foods which have natural laxative qualities. Prunes and their juice, raw fruit and vegetables, rhubarb (stalks not leaves), apricots, paw paw seeds. ! teaspoon of slippery elm powder can be added to a vegetable smoothie. Ensure fluid intake is 2-3 litres/day , no black leaf tea, coffee or soft drinks.Probiotics can repopoulate the gut flora and help soften stools. Fermented foods such as kefir and  sauerkraut provide beneficial bacteria.

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