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Collagen has been deemed one of the most popular gut and beauty supplements, found in products ranging from lotions to tonics. With a quick Google search, you can find “proof” that collagen is a useful supplement for a myriad of gut health issues – leaky gut, liver health, IBS, acid reflux, IBD, inflammation, digestive upset, stomach ulcers, and regulating acid secretion – as well as a beauty fix, purportedly improving nail, hair, skin, and teeth health, and even boosting weight loss. But can a supplement really deliver all of these benefits? Let’s delve into the research and find out. What is Collagen? Collagen is the most widely found protein in the body, making up 25 to 35% of all body protein, and is present in our bones, teeth, skin, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and even in our digestive organs. While 28 different types of collagen have been identified in the scientific literature, type 1 collagen…

Probiotics significantly improve chemotherapy-induced diarrhea, a common and often severe side effect of chemotherapy drugs, which can threaten the effectiveness of treatment. The study included 291 patients undergoing chemotherapy (Fluropyrimidines and/or Irinotecan specifically) -145 participants received a twice-daily dose of a high potency probiotic powder and 146 participants received a placebo powder twice daily. Treatment began 14 days before chemotherapy and continued 2 weeks following the third cycle of chemo. Results showed successful reduction in incidence of diarrhea (mild to moderate) and in patient inflammatory patterns. European Society for Medical Oncology  Takeaway: This study shows promising results from a high potency, multi-strain probiotic in reducing diarrhea in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Hopefully this will result in a better quality of life, a more balanced microbiome, reduction in sickness and death related to diarrhea, and more effective cancer treatment. However, probiotics are living organisms and can be problematic in immunocompromised patients, including some cancer…

Allen: I experience constipation and bloat more than I feel regular and normal. I lead a pretty healthy lifestyle, with the exception of enjoying a few alcoholic beverages and eating out on weekends. I have a very well rounded diet filled with veggies, fruits, grains, and protein. I exercise 5-6 days a week. I avoid dairy as much as possible and eat red meat once a week at most. I drink a tablespoon of Metamucil every day and take a magnesium citrate supplement (200 mg). It helps, but does not seem to be a cure. Taking probiotics didn’t seem to do much either. I’m extremely frustrated and it’s causing a lot of unnecessary stress in my life. Should I see a gastroenterologist? Dr. Chutkan: Allen, bloating and constipation are probably the two most common complaints I see in my practice, so you’re not alone! And while some may believe these are…

Because food is such effective medicine, there are very few supplements I actually recommend. But over the last 20+ years of working with patients, I find myself returning to a handful of products that work well with minimal side effects. Ground psyllium husk is one of those. Psyllium is a form of water-soluble plant fiber with prebiotic effects that can help alleviate symptoms of many different digestive conditions by encouraging healthy bowel movements. Psyllium forms a viscous gel in the intestine to bulk the stool and move the products of digestion through in a timely fashion. You can think of psyllium like a broom that sweeps debris out of your colon and keeps things moving through efficiently. Psyllium is most helpful for constipation, but it also works for conditions where incomplete evacuation can be a problem, including dysbiosis (gut bacteria imbalance), irritable bowel syndrome (particularly in constipation-predominant IBS), parasites (helps to remove…

The question we’re all wondering as we pop our daily probiotic – is probiotic supplementation in healthy adults helpful, or is it all hype? A 2018 review of probiotic supplementation in healthy adult populations analyzed the literature published between 1990 and August 2017. The review included 45 studies. Results showed that probiotic supplementation can lead to improvements in microbial concentration of bacteria specific to the supplement taken. Although, these improvements are transient and do not result in long-term changes in the gut microbiome. Evidence supports the use of probiotics for improving immune response, stool consistency, bowel movements, and lactobacilli concentration in the vaginal microbiome. However, there is lacking evidence to support the use of probiotics to improve blood lipid profile. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition →Takeaway: While there appears to be some benefit to taking a probiotic supplement in healthy adults, what probiotic you choose is important. Be sure your probiotic is at…

Daily calcium supplements are linked to an increased risk of colon polyps. 2,000 participants (aged 45 to 75), all with a history of polyps, were randomly assigned to take a daily calcium supplement, a daily vitamin D supplement, both, or neither for 3 or 5 years. Those who took the calcium supplement, both with and without vitamin D, experienced a significant increased risk of forming polyps 6 to 10 years after the start of the study. Calcium intake through food alone was not associated with an increased risk of polyps. Gut →Takeaway: While more research is needed to confirm these results, the reality is that supplements come with risks. Whenever possible, obtain your vitamins and minerals through whole foods – not only does this negate risk, it increases nutrient absorption when compared to synthetic sources. If you need additional calcium, consider these sources first: white beans, figs, Bok Choy, kale, black eyed peas,…