Integrative, Natural Support for Gastrointestinal Motility
“Disturbances of gastric, intestinal and colonic motor and sensory functions affect a large portion of the population worldwide, impairing quality of life and causing considerable health-care costs.” That’s the opening statement of the 2018 Expert Consensus Document created by the International Working Group for Disorders of Gastrointestinal Motility and Function. The paper, which was published in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, outlined advances in the identification of issues associated with GI motility.
One key issue that many patients face is lack of frequency of bowel movements. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that if a patient consistently has fewer than three bowel movements in a week, they have an issue with motility and should seek guidance from a healthcare professional. The NIH reports that there are many tools available to practitioners to support GI motility.
Once an issue or issues with GI motility are identified, it’s prudent to determine if there are any present medications that could be causing constipation. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, this can include (but is not limited to) some drugs in the following categories:
- Antacids containing aluminum and calcium
- Bile acid sequestrants
- Calcium channel blockers
- Iron supplements
From a dietary standpoint, most practitioners recommend increased fiber and drinking more water. Physical activity can also help support optimal GI motility.
From a dietary supplement standpoint, research indicates that probiotic formulations have been shown to support GI motility. A 2017 study published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology demonstrated that probiotics significantly increase stool frequency in children.
All-natural fiber ingredients in dietary supplements have also been shown to be beneficial in supporting optimal GI motility. For example, SunFiber comes from the guar bean, a clinically-proven galactomannan based soluble fiber source. Psyllium husk, senna and pectin are other fiber sources that may be helpful. Aloe vera juice and cod liver oil have also been shown to support GI motility.
And finally, there is a connection between magnesium and GI motility. Specifically, low magnesium is associated with an increased risk of functional constipation. In a 2007 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, low magnesium was associated with increased constipation even more so than water and fiber in the diet.
There are many great all-natural, safe options available to integrative practitioners to help them support optimal GI motility in their patients. It’s a comprehensive approach that includes diet, lifestyle, and targeted dietary supplements.
Dimidi E, Christodoulides S, Fragkos KC, et al. The effect of probiotics on functional constipation in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014;100(4):1075-1084.
Huang R, Hu J. Positive effect of probiotics on constipation in children: a systematic review and meta-analysis of six randomized controlled trials. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2017;April 28.
Kapoor MP, Sugita M, Okubo T, Fukuzawa Y. Impact of partially hydrolyzed guar bum (PHGG) on constipation prevention: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Functional Foods. 2017;33:52-66.
Keller J, Bassotti G, Clarke J, et al. Expert consensus document: advances in the diagnosis and classification of gastric and intestinal motility disorders. Nature Review Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2018;15:291-308.
Murakami K, Sasaki S, Okubo H, et al. Association between dietary fiber, water and magenisum intake and functional constipation among young Japanese women. Eur J Clin Nutri. 2007;61(5):616-22.