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Dr Marcus Laux
The Bitter Truth For DigestionPDFPrintE-mail

The process of digestion is so central to life that images of it are found throughout our society. Whether we’re discussing artistic creation, information analysis, or corporate acquisitions, we can always use digestion as an analogy because it involves taking something that is not us—preferably whole, organic foods—and transforming it into something that is us, or the energy we need to continue being us.

However, a common after-meal complaint is the very legitimate problem of indigestion—and I can’t say I’m surprised. To be blunt, our bodies weren’t designed to digest a lot of the junk we have come up with as “food.” When we eat foods that Nature intended—whole foods that contain enzymes that complement our own digestive enzymes, plus all the phytonutrients, fiber, et cetera—we are best able to convert the food we eat. However, years of eating foods void of enzymes exhausts the glands that produce our own digestive enzymes, and we are eventually unable to digest natural foods as well.

For these reasons, I have long advocated taking a broad-spectrum plant digestive enzyme with every meal and snack, and quality probiotic and prebiotic supplements as part of a daily regimen. Adding to your natural supply becomes even more important as you age, and taking a little proactive care of your digestion pays big dividends every day.

Another way to strengthen digestive fortitude is by using a class of digestive herbs called “bitter herbs.” While virtually unknown in Canada, bitters are more popular than ever in Europe and China— with the Germans and the French the two biggest consumers. In fact, Germans consume well over 40 million doses of bitters on any given day. And for great reason. Bitter herbs help us digest food more efficiently by increasing appetite and supporting healthy motility to keep bowels regular and clean. While sweet will probably always be a more popular taste, it is the bitter that is better for you.

The Blessings of Bitters

Bitter principles in foods, plants, herbs, bark, and roots are universal. Take for example, the gourmet lettuces and herbs that are gaining in popularity. Bland Iceberg lettuce used to dominate the American diet. Now, many of the salad greens growing in popularity—chicory, endive, dandelion greens, kale, arugula, radicchio—are slightly too strongly bitter and were consumed much more in traditional diets. The bitter components that contribute to their flavor also provide their health benefits. For example, sesquiterpene lactones have anti-inflammatory properties, alkaloids support the immune system, and volatile oils take on every task from cancer suppression to, you guessed it, digestion. Now that these more robust and traditionally flavored foods are slowly being accepted into our diet, so are their health benefits. As a taste, bitter has been given a bad rap, but it deserves better.

Drinking the Bitter Dregs

Herbs found in bitters formulas include gentian root, calamus root, hops, dandelion, ginger, turmeric, milk thistle, centaury, artichoke, beet leaf, orange peel, and goldenseal. Because they are so concentratedly bitter, they are often mixed with sweeter herbs—like fennel, cardamom, anise, lemon balm, and peppermint—that relax smooth muscles in the intestines to stimulate peristalsis and eliminate gas.

Gentian root (aka bitter root) is probably the bitter digestive herb used most widely across the globe, which is a strong testament to its effectiveness. It contains two of the most bitter substances known— gentiopicrin and amarogentin—and is a frequent ingredient in formulas targeting GI health. However, the components in most any bitter herb have similar benefits. For instance, hops, the flowering bitter used in beer, aids in digestion. And many products sold today in the liquor store, such as Angostura Bitters, were first created for the digestive effects of their bitter herbs. So, yes, have a pale ale to help your stomach, but just be sure to drink the bitter dregs!

Why Bitter is Better

In folk tradition, bitter herbs are used to treat dyspepsia, heartburn, IBS, colic, constipation, overindulgence, bloating, and gas. Research confirms that bitter herbal tonics activate a whole host of digestive secretions—including saliva, stomach acid, and bile (the body’s natural laxative). In fact, in animal studies, dandelion greens have increased bile production by 40 percent. However, the catch is that the bitterness has to be tasted in order for the liver to produce bile, so bitter herbs in a convenient capsule that bypasses the taste buds won’t be effective. The direct neural connections of our taste buds trigger the brain to tell the rest of the body to prepare for digestion. It also appears that the activation of the bitter taste buds on the tongue stimulates the secretion of gastrin, which then sets off a digestive cascade. Gastrin is a major hormone that has two main functions—regulating acid secretion in the stomach and increasing smooth muscle activity. Both support healthy and strong digestion. The stronger the bitter taste, the more potent the twofold effect.

In whatever way you choose to include bitters in your diet, just remember that what is bitter to the tongue is sweet to the stomach. So give your taste buds something to remember to make digestive problems something to forget. Bitter herbs are a true tonic—a medicinal agent that helps restore the body’s natural tone.


Adult Daily Probiotics

Adult Daily Probiotics Innovite Health Adult Daily Probiotics are designed specifically with adults in mind. It is the perfect probiotic combination for helping adults maintain a healthy digestive system.


$51.00 60 capsules / bottle
NPN# 80048138
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Magnesium Citrate 250mg

Magnesium Citrate 250mg Helps in the maintenance of proper muscle function and tissue formation; in the development and maintenance of bones and teeth; also assists the body to metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins.


$16.60 100 caps / Bottle
NPN# 80011251
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Greens+ Daily Detox Green Apple - Genuine Health

Greens+ Daily Detox Green Apple - Genuine Health Every day we are exposed to toxins that over time can cause a variety of health problems. To help your body eliminate stored toxins and prevent further build-up, choose greens+ daily detox.


$73.99 406 g/Can
NPN# 80039258
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Greens+ Extra Energy Orange - Genuine Health

Greens+ Extra Energy Orange - Genuine Health Do you often feel tired or in need of a healthy, all-natural energy boost? Here’s your healthiest solution: greens+ extra energy.


$73.99 399 g/Can
NPN# 80010572
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UTI Protect - Innovite Health

UTI Protect - Innovite Health Helps prevent recurrent and bladder urinary tract infections (UTI)by inhibiting E. coli’s ability to attach to the walls of the bladder and urinary tract.


$19.40 60 veg caps/bottle
NPN # 80031854
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Sensitive GI Probiotics - Innovite Health

Sensitive GI Probiotics - Innovite Health Contains 5 billion CFU/g daily dose of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum and FOS, aids digestion and restores intestinal flora while suppressing Candida yeast and persistent vaginosis. Boosts immune system health.


$34.04 5 Billion CFU, 60 veg caps/bottle
NPN # 80048130
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Feminine Support Probiotics - Innovite Health

Feminine Support Probiotics - Innovite Health Feminine Support consists of four strains of Lactobacillus found in a healthy vaginal tract. Source of probiotics to help prevent recurrent urinary infections (UTIs) in women, also includes certified organic cranberry.


$41.95 5 Billion CFU, 60 veg capsules/bottle
NPN # 80047845
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Family Daily Probiotics Chewables - Innovite Health

Family Daily Probiotics Chewables - Innovite Health Exciting and delicious bite sized, white chocolate cubes great for restoring and maintaining digestive health. Great for the kid in all of us.


$42.44 1 Billion CFU with 800IU Vitamin D3/cube
60 Vanilla Chew Cubes/box, NPN # 80047913
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Gut Repair - Innovite Health

Gut Repair - Innovite Health Promotes the repair and recovery of the intestinal lining and helps to relieve inflammatory conditions of the digestive system.


$28.74 60 capsules/bottle
NPN # 80046126
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Senior Daily Probiotics - Innovite Health

Senior Daily Probiotics - Innovite Health As you age, body changes can affect the natural make-up of your digestive flora. IVH Senior Daily helps you to supplement against those aging effects, delivering exactly the right types of beneficial bacteria.


$59.99 25 Billion CFU, 60 veg caps
NPN # 80048143
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Yeast Buster Kit - Innovite Health

Yeast Buster Kit - Innovite Health Formulated by a Canadian pharmacist devoted to natural health. Used in combination with an anti-Candida diet, the Yeast Buster® candida detox program provides full-spectrum support. Proven safe and effective for over 25 years.


$86.99 NPN Psyllium 80011770; Caproil 80022662;
Activated Charcoal 80042918; DDS Acidophilus 80011360
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Vitamin D3 Drops With Vitamin K2 - Innovite Health

Vitamin D3 Drops With Vitamin K2 - Innovite Health Vitamin D is critically important in the absorption and use of calcium and phosphorus; also in maintaining a healthy immune, nervous and cardiovascular systems, cognitive function and emotional well-being.


$20.94 30 ml/bottle
NPN # 80021007
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Organic Ginger Aid - Herbal Tea

Organic Ginger Aid - Herbal Tea Traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to help relieve digestive upsets including lack of appetite, nausea, digestive spasms, indigestion, dyspepsia and flatulent colic.


$5.29 Naturally Caffeine Free Herbal Tea
20 Tea Bags/Box - NPN # 80012442
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Organic Roasted Dandelion Root - Herbal Tea

Organic Roasted Dandelion Root - Herbal Tea Gets the juices flowing, gently stimulates the liver and supports healthy digestion.


$5.29 Naturally Caffeine Free Herbal Tea
20 Tea Bags/Box - NPN # 80001158
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Organic Chamomile with Lavender - Herbal Tea

Organic Chamomile with Lavender - Herbal Tea Settles your nervous system and relaxes your digestive system, especially good when stressed or tense.


$5.29 Naturally Caffeine Free Herbal Tea
20 Tea Bags/Box - NPN # 80022290
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Organic EveryDay Detox® Lemon - Herbal Tea

Organic EveryDay Detox® Lemon - Herbal Tea Traditionally used in herbal medicine as a nutritive tonic and alternative to help remove accumulated waste products from the body.


$5.29 Naturally Caffeine Free Herbal Tea
20 Tea Bags/Box - NPN # 80038537
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Healthy Tidbits

In this century, the world will have more people living into their 80s and 90s than ever before, with the number of people 80+ set to quadruple between 2000 and 2050.


Increased life expectancy is largely due to improvements in public health, and healthy ageing is linked directly to health in earlier stages of life.


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