If you’ve been a diligent disciple of the iron for many years, and feel like you don’t have enough to show for all the time (and money) you’ve invested, it’s time to take a step back.
A step back to look at the fundamental process that leads to muscle gain; digestion. Yes, you won’t see digestion making sexy headlines anywhere as the next big breakthrough, but with over 10% of the world’s population having some sort of digestive disorder or another, this could very well mean you.
In this article, we will discuss how you can positively benefit your digestion with the use of well-timed supplements.
How Do I know If I Have A Digestive Disorder?
To be 100% certain, you would need to see a physician. However, there are generally tell-tales since that give an indication that something is amiss in the nutrient processing machinery. These may include:
Abnormal bowel movements- this may include infrequent motions, chronic constipation or diarrhoea.
Excessive gas pressure/bloating- many people possess insensitivity to at least one primary dietary staple, usually resulting in poor digestion and accumulation of gas in the process.
Joint pain- as a result of chronic inflammatory changes and mediators of inflammation being produced.
Illness/pain- as a result of leaky gut syndrome, or ulceration along the stomach or small intestine.
Applying The Fix
It is important to be realistic when using supplements to address digestive disorders. Yes, many prove to be effective adjuvants to a healthy diet and can alleviate some of the loss of critical nutrients from poor absorption, but if you are in chronic pain or discomfort, be sure to get it checked out.
Hopefully, you fall into the class that can easily be rectified with a little TLS- tender loving supplementation. Try the following:
Can you honestly say that you are meeting your fibre quota on a day to day basis? As many as 50% of adults do not meet the required 25 g to 30 g of fibre required daily, leading to adverse effects on digestive function.
Particularly, you need to focus on the insoluble variety, which helps to keep food and then subsequently, chyme and waste moving along the digestive tract. Fibre also helps to reduce the likelihood of cancers of the colon developing from waste being in contact with healthy cells longer than it should.
You’ve probably heard about probiotics before, but just what are they? Simply put, they are the beneficial bacterial cultures that reside within your digestive tract. These include lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium as well as many others, with the mentioned two being the most important.
Intestinal dysbiosis is believed to be a major contributor to poor digestion, as these probiotic bacteria help with the metabolism of fibre, dairy based products and even synthesizes particular members of the B vitamin family. Probiotics can even help you absorb protein better, which is a big deal when looking to gain even gram of muscle humanly possible, as published in the journal Probiotics and Antimicrobial proteins[i].
But besides their active role in the digestive proves, they also assist with positive “overcrowding”, which is colonizing the digestive tract and making it difficult for pathogenic bacteria or fungi to thrive. They can be considered as house guests that crash at your place but actually take care of it too.
Many people are confused about the whole probiotic and prebiotic notion, and that’s understandable, but the easier way to tell the difference is to probably put the “pre” before the “pro”. What do we mean by this? Just that prebiotics are actually the food sources that probiotics use for nourishment.
Prebiotics help to foster an intestinal environment that is conducive for probiotic bacteria to thrive. Prebiotics include inulin, resistant starch and pectin to name a few, and can be obtained from fruits/veggies or in convenient supplemental form.
Truth be told, many people that use digestive enzymes fail to take full advantage of them. Why? Because not enough is understood about it. Your body produces its own digestive enzymes, which are necessary for the breakdown of the macronutrients we eat.
Supplemental digestive enzymes, such as bromelain, papain and more recently- actinidin[ii], obtained from green kiwi fruit, are exceptional at increasing protein breakdown, especially when it comes to slower digesting sources.
These include casein protein, soy, and more importantly, solid food, especially red meat and beef which spend an extended period of time in processing. These enzymes support the breakdown of protein into structural amino acids and enhances subsequent absorption.
There are many other digestive enzymes as well, including those used to break down fat and carbohydrates, which may be useful if you possess specific intolerances to staple foods.
Oftentimes underrated by athletes, L-Glutamine is an amino acid that definitely deserves your time, especially when it comes to promoting digestive health. In contrast to D-Glutamine which your body is capable of producing on its own, L-Glutamine is referred to as a conditionally essential amino acid, since there are certain times when its utility will be in great demand.
One of these times is following injury to the digestive tract, when it is rapidly used up in an effort to restore the cells lining the insides of associated digestive organs. There have been studies conducted demonstrating the fact that L-Glutamine supplementation improves gut permeability[iii], reducing the likelihood of leaky gut syndrome developing in patients receiving parenteral nutrition as published in The Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.
Not only that, but its anti-inflammatory potential can prove to be the lifeline that people with chronic digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis need, reducing symptoms and fostering improved probiotic colony size, as published in the journal Digestion[iv].
One thing that is clear is the role of L-Glutamine as a digestive super-supplement, which makes sense considering that it is also the most abundant free form amino acid in the body.
Whether you have symptoms consistent with a digestive disorder or not, the fact of the matter is that you are probably leaving gains on the table by not optimizing the absorption of nutrients into your blood.
It is highly advised that everyone takes a fibre supplement of some sort, most often a psyllium based product, increase your L-Glutamine consumption to reinforce your guts cellular barrier, and make sure the probiotics living in your processing machinery are well taken care of.
Add a digestive enzyme for good measure (most likely a proteolytic one), and possibly even slippery elm to support your stomach’s mucus barrier, and you’ve got a massive leg up on the competition and should feel great doing so.
[i] Jäger R, Purpura M, Farmer S, Cash HA, Keller D. Probiotic Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 Improves Protein Absorption and Utilization. Probiotics Antimicrob Proteins. 2018;10(4):611–615. doi:10.1007/s12602-017-9354-y
[ii] Lovedeep Kaur, Shane M. Rutherfurd, Paul J. Moughan, Lynley Drummond, and Mike J. Boland. Actinidin Enhances Gastric Protein Digestion As Assessed Using an in Vitro Gastric Digestion Model.Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2010 58 (8), 5068-5073
[iii] Li, J. , Langkamp?Henken, B. , Suzuki, K. and Stahlgren, L. H. (1994), Glutamine Prevents Parenteral Nutrition?Induced Increases in Intestinal Permeability. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, 18: 303-307. doi:10.1177/014860719401800404
[iv] Kanauchi O, Iwanaga T, Mitsuyama K: Germinated Barley Foodstuff Feeding. Digestion 2001;63(suppl 1):60-67. doi: 10.1159/000051913