8 essential nutrients for good digestion

Category: Digestion, Integrative Nutrition

8 essential nutrients for good digestion

Digestion is one of the most complex processes in the body, involving many organs and secretions that work together. Its goal is to transform a huge variety of foods into nutrients essential for life.

But what happens when there is a disorder? For these cases, there are very effective supplements that can help us maintain good digestive health.

Food supplements for good digestion

Plants with medicinal properties, vitamins and certain bacteria have properties that can be beneficial. Many have a positive effect on the complex physical and chemical reactions that take place within the digestive tract. In addition, they can influence other organs, such as the liver.

There are several disorders that can prevent us from enjoying a good meal or taking advantage of the nutrients in the diet. The gastric mucosa is sometimes colonized by pathogenic bacteria and diseases related to this infection, such as ulcers or gastritis, produce very annoying symptoms.

Extracts of cruciferous plants, a family in which broccoli stands out, have effects that go beyond the digestive system. In food supplements, some of these ingredients can improve certain functions. For example, sulforaphane, an isothiocyanate present in broccoli inflorescence, has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial activity.

Properties of some plant extracts

The use of medicinal plants is a heritage of ancient cultures. In recent times, research in humans and animals seems to indicate that many of the traditional uses have a scientific basis. In addition, an advantage of these natural compounds is that they do not produce side effects.

Picrorhiza Kurroa Root

The active ingredient of this bitter-tasting, creeping plant is called kutkin and has been used for centuries to alleviate liver disorders. It is currently being investigated for its antioxidant, choleretic (stimulating bile secretion), hepatoprotective and immunomodulatory action (1)

Similarly, the root of Picrorhiza Kurroa seems to combat gastric ulcer caused by medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs. It also has an effect against gastritis and chronic diarrhea problems. (2)

Bitter chamomile flowers

This plant and its extracts are widely used, as it has antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective effects. In addition, it appears to be beneficial in gastrointestinal disorders involving diarrhea (3)

In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, a reduction in gastric damage was evidenced in all tested doses of bitter chamomile flower extracts. In that sense, gastric mucosal lesions caused by ethanol were attenuated. (4)

Licorice root

Glycyrrhizic acid is one of the components with medicinal action of this plant, whose scientific name is Glycyrrhiza Glabra. The deglycyrrhizinated root of this plant can be consumed on a regular basis, since the active ingredients responsible for the side effects (water and sodium retention, hypertension, heart rhythm alterations) of untreated licorice have been eliminated, maintaining its medicinal properties. It is useful for heartburn or reflux as an antacid, and to soothe digestion.

In a study conducted in 2017, a licorice root extract was tested and the results indicated possible relief of upset stomach symptoms. Among them, a reduction in gastric mucosal damage generated by both Helicobacter pylori bacteria and stress was evident. (5)

Broccoli inflorescence

Isothiocyanates are derived from the breakdown of sulfur substances found in cruciferous vegetables. This group of compounds has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic and antibacterial effects.

Among them is sulforaphane, from broccoli inflorescence. This substance is selective towards H. pylori, eliminating even antibiotic-resistant strains. Consequently, it improves the symptoms of gastritis, such as heartburn and reflux. (6)

Lion’s Mane

Traditional Chinese medicine uses this mushroom to treat gastrointestinal problems, as well as loss of alertness and memory. Currently, it appears to be useful in dementia, atrophic gastritis and ulcers caused by gastric hyperacidity.

This fungus from the forests of Central Asia is rich in polysaccharides, called hericenones. They have a probiotic action and preserve the intestinal microflora. It also contains a compound called orcinol, which appears to have antibacterial activity.

Some studies have evaluated the gastroprotective and antioxidant action of these lion’s mane mushroom polysaccharides. The results indicate that it stabilizes gastric secretion and its redox state. At the same time, defensive factors, such as prostaglandins and nitric oxide, were increased. (7)

Vitamin C

As we know, vitamin C has enormous benefits for the whole organism. It is essential in the synthesis of collagen, plays a role in normal energy metabolism, is an antioxidant, and activates the functioning of the immune system.

According to the findings of several studies, it is capable of inhibiting the formation of carcinogenic compounds. This coincides with the association between this vitamin and a lower risk of gastric cancer (8)

On the other hand, the relationship between H. pylori infection and increased risk of stomach cancer is well known. In fact, a reduced content of vitamin C in gastric secretion has been observed. Therefore, vitamin C supplementation could be useful as an adjunct to conventional therapies used to eliminate this bacterium. (9)

Dry clove extract

The tree called Syzygium aromaticum is native to Indonesia and belongs to the Myrtaceae family. The dried clove buds are widely used as a condiment and are rich in polyphenols, including eugenol.

Clove extract has shown antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These actions could be useful for good digestion, improving gastrointestinal health, oxidative stress and damage caused by chronic alcohol consumption. (10)

Lactobacillus reuteri

This bacterium is classified as a superior probiotic, improving food tolerance and favouring the good development of intestinal flora. It is responsible for synthesizing the substance called reuterin, a natural antimicrobial. In turn, it destroys pathogenic germs and fights gastrointestinal infections, such as traveler’s diarrhea.

A study conducted in 2012 indicated the possible suitability of oral administration of Lactobacillus reuteri. The results in conjunction with conventional treatment to eradicate H. pylori were positive (11)

Adequate digestion is a guarantee of good health. Medicinal plants and their active ingredients help us to preserve it without suffering side effects, which we can obtain through food supplements.

You can learn more about Méderi Integrative Nutrition products here.


  1. Picrorhiza kurroa. Monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2001 Jun;6(3):319-21.
  2. Debashish Banerjee, Biswanath Maity, Subrata K Nag, Sandip K Bandyopadhyay, and Subrata Chattopadhyay. Healing Potential of Picrorhiza kurroa (Scrofulariaceae) rhizomes against indomethacin-induced gastric ulceration: a mechanistic exploration. Complement Altern Med. 2008; 8: 3.
  3. Hichem Sebai, Mohamed-Amine Jabri, Abdelaziz Souli, Kais Rtibi, Slimen Selmi, Olfa Tebourbi, Jamel El-Benna, Mohsen Sakly. Antidiarrheal and antioxidant activities of chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) decoction extract in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Mar 14;152(2):327-32.
  4. S B Bezerra 1, L K A M Leal, N A P Nogueira, A R Campo. Bisabolol-induced gastroprotection against acute gastric lesions: role of prostaglandins, nitric oxide, and KATP+ channels. J Med Food. 2009 Dec;12(6):1403-6.
  5. Ali Sadra, Hyuck-Se Kweon, Sung-Oh Huh, Jaeyoung Cho. Gastroprotective and gastric motility benefits of AD-lico/Healthy Gut Glycyrrhiza inflata extract. Anim Cells Syst (Seoul). 2017 Aug 18;21(4):255-262.
  6. Yanaka, A., Fahey, J. W., Fukumoto, A., Nakayama, M., Inoue, S., Zhang, S., & Yamamoto, M. Dietary sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprouts reduce colonization and attenuate gastritis in Helicobacter pylori–infected mice and humans. Cancer Prevention Research, 2009. 2(4), 353-360.
  7. Xiao-Yin Wang, Jun-Yi Yin, Ming-Ming Zhao, Shi-Yu Liu, Shao-Ping Nie, Ming-Yong Xie . Gastroprotective activity of polysaccharide from Hericium erinaceus against ethanol-induced gastric mucosal lesion and pylorus ligation-induced gastric ulcer, and its antioxidant activities. Carbohydr Polym. 2018 Apr 15;186:100-109.
  8. Jenab M, Riboli E, Ferrari P, et al. Plasma and dietary vitamin C levels and risk of gastric cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-EURGAST). Carcinogenesis. 2006;27(11):2250-2257. (PubMed)
  9. Chuang CH, Sheu BS, Kao AW, et al. Adjuvant effect of vitamin C on omeprazole-amoxicillin-clarithromycin triple therapy for Helicobacter pylori eradication. Hepatogastroenterology. 2007;54(73):320-324. (PubMed)
  10. Abin Issac 1, G Gopakumar, Ramadasan Kuttan, Balu Maliakel, I M Krishnakumar. Safety and anti-ulcerogenic activity of a novel polyphenol-rich extract of clove buds (Syzygium aromaticum L). Comparative Study Food Funct. 2015 Mar;6(3):842-52.
  11. Cesare Efrati, Giorgia Nicolini, Claudio Cannaviello, Nicole Piazza O’Sed, and Stefano Valabrega. Helicobacter pylori eradication: Sequential therapy and Lactobacillus reuteri supplementation. World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Nov 21; 18(43): 6250–6254.

Share this post