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By Cheryl Wright, RNCP, RHN, BA
The holidays are coming! What should be an enjoyable time with friends and family is often instead spent uncomfortably with gas and bloating because of overindulging. For many people, deciding what to wear to holiday parties has more to do with which outfit will hide their bloated bellies after eating, than it does with fashion. If you’re worried about embarrassing gas or bloating, then it’s time to learn what is causing your digestive upset and what you can do about it.
Many people are unaware that digestion begins when we see or smell food, this causes us to salivate which releases a digestive enzyme call Amylase. Digestive enzymes are catalysts for chemical reactions within the body. This can be compared to blowing on a flame to start a fire; if extra oxygen is not added to the flames, it takes longer to start, or may go out altogether. Basically without digestive enzymes, food is not broken down properly.
Many people do not produce enough enzymes, therefore they are unable to absorb all of the nutrients from the food they are eating. Yet losing out on nutrients is not the only detriment that a lack of enzymes can cause. Symptoms such as gas and bloating can also occur.
If food is not broken down by digestive enzymes, then undigested foods can reach the large intestine, where they become food for the “bad” bacteria in your intestinal tract. These “bad” bacteria will putrefy the undigested food, releasing volatile fatty acids and gasses. These gases cause bloating and often foul smelling gas after meals. But if you provide your body with enough enzymes to break down all of your food, then the “bad” bacteria will have nothing to eat, and bloating and gas diminish.
For many people taking supplemental digestive enzymes is an ideal way to make sure their food is broken down properly, and they are absorbing all the nutrients within. Digestive enzymes are also wonderful in reducing the amount of embarrassing gas and bloating that occur with heavy meals. Gas is something you definitely do not want at a holiday party!
There are many different types of enzymes available at your local health food store. In order to find the right one for you, you need to look at how often gas and bloating are occurring. Read below to find out which enzyme is best for you:
Difficulty breaking down large meals or specific foods like protein
Gas or bloating after certain types of foods
Gas or bloating after combining carbs and proteins
with meals when required
Difficulty breaking down all meals all the time
Gas or bloating after eating regardless of food type
Stomach upset, belching or regurgitation after eating regardless of food type
with all meals, all the time
Heartburn and acid reflux caused by low stomach acid
Heartburn and acid reflux with accompanying gas or bloating caused by low stomach acid
with meals and never on its own
Difficulty breaking down raw vegetables, beans and legumes
Gas, bloating, stomach upset or belching after eating beans, legumes and cruciferous vegetables
with vegetarian meals that cause gas and bloating
Difficulty breaking down dairy products
Gas, bloating, stomach upset or belching after eating dairy products
one capsule per serving of dairy products
(1 serving = 250ml or 1cup)
Gilani, GS, Cockell, KA., Sepehr, E. (2005). Effects of antinutritional factors on protein digestibility and amino acid availability in foods. J AOAC Int. May-June;88(3): 967-87.
Haas, Elson M.(1992). Staying Healthy with Nutrition The complete guide to diet and nutritional medicine. Berkley: Celestial Arts.
Whillier, Stephney (1999). Nutritional Pathology and the health care of the future. Richmond Hill, ON: CSNN Publishing.
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