Minerals are required for optimal digestive function, because they act as cofactors, enabling enzymes to function. Minerals are also critical for healthy gastric acid secretion, intestinal motility, fluid balance within the GI tract, intestinal barrier integrity, and regulation of microbial balance within the intestinal tract.
Gastric acid secretion
Potassium is vital for the secretion of gastric acid, which allows digestion of food and assimilation of nutrients. Calcium and zinc down-regulate excessive or dysfunctional gastric acid secretion and can therefore play a role in reducing or preventing gastric ulceration.
Regular bowel movements
Magnesium has an osmotic effect that draws water into the intestines, which triggers health bowel movements. Calcium reduces intestinal motility to aid nutrient absorption and reduces fluid secretion into the intestines.
Zinc maintains the integrity of intestinal junctions which prevents “leaky gut”. This has important implications in inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease, and autoimmune conditions.
Calcium, zinc and selenium downregulate intestinal inflammation, through effects on immune function, intestinal barrier function, gene expression, and antioxidant protection. Higher intakes of calcium, selenium and zinc are associated with a reduced risk of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Sufficiency of magnesium, zinc and selenium is associated with an increased microbial diversity in the gut, while deficiency is associated with reduced diversity. Microbial diversity is extremely important for gut health and strong immune function.
Ensuring sufficiency of minerals through dietary modification and/or supplementation is an extremely important component of digestive health management. Speak with your naturopath if your digestive function needs improvement, or if you suffer from digestive symptoms such as bloating, pain, constipation, or diarrhea.
Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of conditions commonly affecting women and children, with a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions, as well as women’s hormonal concerns, digestive issues, fatigue, anxiety, and skin concerns. Yvette consults in Camberwell and South Yarra, Melbourne, as well as Australia-wide via skype/zoom/phone. Book here.