Food that Help and Foods that Harm Digestive Health

By Cat, Sept 2019

This post is my notes from a digestive health video by Dr. Amy Lee (1). I’ve reorganized my notes because she jumps around in her video. Topics discussed:

  • Conditions that Don’t Help You
  • 4 Natural Digestive (and Fat-Loss) Helpers
  • 3 Harmful “Health Foods”
  • Food Additives to Avoid

Her main focus in on fat/weight loss by improving digestive health through the foods you eat. The video also includes a sales-pitch for her supplement Bio-X4 (Nucific brand). Read on for my notes.

See also: 1. Notes on Natural Health Topics,  D (Drugs, Prescription) – G (Gut Health); 2. Grains, Flours and Starches Menu

Cat’s Intro

The main focus of Dr. Lee’s video is on fat/weight loss, but this does not mean one needs to eat a low-fat diet. Why? Because our storage fat is primarily made from excess carbs, not excess fat. The body’s cells can burn glucose (from dietary carbs) or fat (from dietary or stored fats). When available glucose is low (either from a low-carb diet, or from a condition known as insulin resistance), the body provides fat for fuel. This can be from the diet, or from storage fat.

An interesting fact that most people don’t know, is that most body fat (storage fats) is made in the liver from excess carbohydrates and proteins, and not from dietary fats. This process is triggered by excess insulin in the blood.

Dr. Lee points out that when the digestive system (the gut) is not healthy (from various causes), storage fat increases. When we improve gut health, storage fat decreases.

This is a very complex problem, and Dr. Lee does not go into detail about the problem, only about the harm of excess dietary sugars (such as from HFCS and starch), and 4 supplements that help to heal the gut, boost metabolism, and curb over-eating by reducing appetite.

See also my articles: About Fats, an Introduction and Healthful fatty foods and oils (and not-healthful fats to avoid)

Conditions that Don’t Help You

  • Bad gut bacteria
  • Overeating
  • Slow Metabolism

4 Natural Digestive Supplements (and Fat-Loss Helpers)

Dr Lee suggests combining these with daily exercise and activity.

She also suggests using her Nucific-brand supplement, Bio-X4 which costs $99 for a 30-day supply, and contains:

  • 3 enzymes (lipase, amylase and bromelain); see Digestive Enzymes, below
  • probiotics; see Probiotics, below
  • Caralluma fimbriata; see Caralluma fimbriata, below
  • EGCG, or green tea extract; see EGCG, below.

Digestive Enzymes

Preservatives added to foods block normal digestion. To help with this, take the following 4 enzymes with each meal (you can also take other digestive enzymes such as protease and cellulase):

  • Lipase (breaks down fats)
  • Amylase (breaks down carbs)
  • Bromelain (breaks down proteins), and comes from the pineapple plant. This enzyme also supports digestion of grains, and fights inflammation.

The enzyme supplement I take is Now’s Super Enzyme capsules (iHerb code NOW-02964) which contains Betaine HCL, Ox Bile extract, papaya fruit powder, lipase, amylase, protease (including an acid-stable protease), bromelain (from pineapple), papain (from papaya), and cellulase. The Betaine HCL helps with stomach acidity to improve the quality of digestion; it also helps with acid reflux symptoms.


One of the most harmful conditions of the digestive tract is candida overgrowth. While candida is a natural denizen of the colon that is essential for health. But when it gets out of balance and expands into the small intestine and other parts of the body, it creates a lot of harm, including making it easier for bad bacteria to overwhelm the good bacteria, upsetting the helpful balance of the microbiome. It can also create more favorable conditions for certain parasites to survive.

Dr Amy Lee suggests taking probiotic supplements, which can be helpful, but you cannot count on the bacteria to still be alive when you purchase the supplement, and may of those that are still alive will not survive your naturally acidic stomach. Spore-based probiotics are much better in this regard, as the spores protect the bacteria until they find the best environment.

But in my opinion, by far the best probiotic is cultured and fermented foods, because they provide good bacteria and prebiotics that support their growth. Examples include:

  • homemade, unsweetened yogurt or kefir,
  • fermented beets,
  • fermented fruits such as citrus and berries,
  • sauerkraut,
  • kimchi

See my Culturing, Curing and Fermentation Menu for recipes

Dr Lee does not discuss the importance of prebiotic foods/supplements, that support the growth of good bacteria in our gut. See my article: Probiotic & Prebiotic Supplements for more on this.

Caralluma fimbriata

This is a cactus from India that helps to heal the gut by reducing your appetite (if you are in the habit of overeating). This in turn helps with fat-loss. For centuries dating back to the hunter-gather times, it was used to help suppress appetite during long hunts and times of famine. See Healthline (2) for information on research about this extract/supplement.

If you want to add this as an extract/supplement, I suggest doing so slowly, so your body can get accustomed to it and you can learn your tolerable limits. The most well-documented side effects are (2):

  • stomach pain
  • constipation
  • other gastrointestinal issues

Healthline (3) also suggests, “As always, consult a doctor before beginning any weight-loss and physical activity program, especially if you’ve been sedentary for an extended period of time.

See also Examine’s article (3) on this medicinal extract.

I might try:

  • Solaray brand Caralluma fimbriata supplement (iHerb code SOR-66054) that contains 500 mg/capsule, and costs $13 for a 30-day supply. Or
  • Now-brand supplement that contains 500 mg Caralluma and 200 mg green tea extract (iHerb code NOW-01905); it costs about $14 for a 30 day supply (if take 2 caps/day)

EGCG (Green tea extract)

The full name is “Epigallocatechin gallate;” it is a type of catechin (a natural phenol and antioxidant). It is known to:

  • boost metabolism
  • increase programmed cell death (apoptosis) in mature fat cells, so they commit suicide, thus preventing diet-rebound.
  • Fire-up the digestive system and boost fat oxidation rate.

I might try Now brand’s EGCG supplement that provides 300 mg EGCG/capsule. 10 capsules costs about $15.

3 Harmful “Health Foods”

Most Commercial Yogurt, Kefir

NOTE: homemade, unsweetened yogurt and kefir are not harmful, and support digestive health, primarily by affecting pH of the gut, which in turns promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut.

But most commercial versions are highly sweetened with sugar or HFCS. These sweeteners do not help with gut balance, and in fact throw the gut microbiome out of its natural balance. HFCS is also addicting.

One exception would be yogurt sweetened with raw, local honey, such as Kalispell Kreamery’s Greek Honey Yogurt (available in Montana’s Flathead valley where I live).

Commercial Wheat Bread

Grain breads should always be made with a sourdough starter instead of yeast, or made from sprouted grain.  Sprouting or fermentation breaks down the toxic lectins in the grain, and partially breaks down the gluten, so that most people can tolerate the grain (including those with Celiac disease).

Most commercial grain products are sweetened with sugar or HFCS, which are harmful for a healthy gut. HFCS is also addicting.

See my Cat’s Kitchen: Grains, Flours and Starches Menu for lots of articles on healthful ways to consume grains and pseudo-grains.

Commercial Cereals and Cereal Bars

Especially avoid those that contain sugars, including sucrose, glucose, fructose and HFCS. Most also contain harmful preservatives.

The most healthful cereals are porridge made from fermented or at least pre-soaked grains.

See my Cat’s Kitchen: Grains, Flours and Starches Menu for lots of articles on healthful ways to consume grains and pseudo-grains. For example:

Food Additives to Avoid

  • HFCS and artificial sweeteners;
  • Food preservatives, natural flavors, and artificial flavors;
  • Olestra (aka Olean), a fat-substitute used in many commercial foods including potato chips. Natural fats are made by combining fatty acids with a glycerol backbone; Olestra is made by combining fatty acids with a sucrose (sugar) backbone. Its structure is “too large and irregular to move through the intestinal wall and be absorbed into the bloodstream.” (4) Thus is does not provide calories to the body. Unfortunately it can have bad side-effects. The “FDA-mandated health warning label reads “This Product Contains Olestra. Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools (anal leakage). Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients. Vitamins A, D, E, and K have been added.” (4). Unfortunately, this label is no longer in use, but the problem remains.


  1. Dr. Amy Lee’s Video: 3 Harmful “Health Foods” (
  2. Healthline:
  3. Examine:
  4. Wikipedia on Olestra:

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