One of the unfortunate side effects of living in today’s fast-food paradise is an overwhelming lack of essential nutrients, not only for good health, but for proper digestion of the foods we do eat. Altogether too many people are suffering from bloating, gas and an overall lack of energy due to the fact that we are getting few nutrients, and those we are consuming are just not being effectively metabolized. If you are looking for tips to relieve bloated stomach symptoms you should start by taking a good, long look at your diet. In addition, there are some things you can do to help relieve that bloated, sluggish feeling.
The Truth About Beans
Contrary to popular opinion, eating beans is probably not the main reason you are subjected to bouts of gas and a bloated, distended stomach. While it is true that beans (and legumes in general) along with the cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower are the main culprits among gassy foods, they are only the tip of the iceberg.
In reality, if you were eating a proper diet rich in fiber and foods with the necessary digestive enzymes, you would suffer few, or no, ill effects from these gassy foods. Believe it or not, beans and broccoli are extremely high in dietary fiber which should help to relieve gas if you were also consuming foods with the digestive enzymes that help to break down those foods for digestion.
The Lowdown on Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes can be broken down into main categories, depending on the molecule they are meant to break down (substrates). These include proteases & peptidases, lipases, carbohydrases, cellulase and nucleases. Obviously proteases and peptidases break down proteins. Keep in mind that amino acids are polypeptide chains that form proteins. Lipases break down fats (lipids) into fatty acids, carbohydrases break down carbohydrates into simple sugars and nucleases are there to help digest nucleic acids into nucleotides.
Then there is cellulase that breaks down fibers. What does this mean in terms of beans? Everything! Without getting overly technical, you can see that you need cellulases to break down the fiber in beans as well as proteases and perhaps peptidases to break down the protein content. In other words, beans alone are not the cause of that gas and bloating. The ultimate cause is insufficient digestion.
What About Fiber?
Now then, there is fiber to consider. We have heard so much about eating diets rich in fiber so that foods can pass through our digestive tract for a number of reasons. Primarily people want to stay regular. But if foods aren’t able to be properly digested and remain in the digestive tract, that is when the gas builds up from fermentation of foods just sitting there and gas results. What is the solution? You got it – digestive enzymes.
What you aren’t being told about high fiber diets is that you also need appropriate amounts of digestive enzymes such as cellulase to break down those high fiber foods so that they can be passed through the system! However, there are both soluble and insoluble fibers to be considered as well. When broken down adequately, soluble fibers turn into a gelatinous (jelly-like) mass that helps move foods smoothly through the intestines while insoluble fiber literally ‘scrubs’ your digestive tract clean.
Sources of Digestive Enzymes
Now that you have the basics of why that gas is building up and causing your stomach to bloat, it’s time to do something about it. By now you should recognize the importance of consuming foods with digestive enzymes at the appropriate times. For instance, if you eat a high protein meal you would want to make sure that meal included foods rich in proteases or peptidases. However, some of these digestive enzymes are manufactured by the body (i.e. in saliva) which means that the best source would be taking a digestive enzyme supplement found online or at any good health food store. Following is a list of the major groups of digestive enzymes and an example of where to find them.
- Proteases & peptidases – pineapple, papaya, whole grains, supplements
- Lipases – coconut, fresh avocado, supplements
- Carbohydrases – sweet potatoes, supplements
- Cellulases – raw whole foods, supplements
Many digestive enzymes are meant to be manufactured and secreted by the body, which is why they are best found in digestive enzyme supplements. Nucleases, for example, are secreted in the pancreas. If your pancreas is inflamed or diseased, it stands to reason that you would need to take digestive enzymes to provide what the body in not able to produce.
Colon Cleansing to Reduce Bloating
Usually what we refer to as bloating of the stomach is actually not specific to the stomach at all! That bloated feeling is most often the result of foods not being properly digested which means that the intestines are loaded with all sorts of toxins and undigested foods and fecal matter. A good colon cleansing regimen is recommended at least twice annually to flush all that built up waste from your system.
There are a number of natural colon cleansing products on the market but it is important to take a good look at the ingredients they are formulated with. Any colon cleansing products which promote peristalsis (contractions of the muscles along the intestines to move foods along) should be handled with care. In fact, they should never be taken by pregnant women unless prescribed by a doctor because those contractions can also send a woman into labor!
Putting It All Together
The best tips to relieve bloated stomach symptoms would start with diet. Eat plenty of raw whole foods, especially those known to contain digestive enzymes such as papaya, avocado and pineapple. Reduce the amount of red meats being consumed since protein is extremely difficult to fully digest and will often result in bloating. Eat as many whole grain foods as possible and drink at least six to eight glasses of water to flush foods through your system. Finally, never lay down after a large meal as foods tend to sit there longer. A nice walk around the block after dinner helps to move foods along while reducing bloating and sluggishness.
And finally, find a good digestive enzyme supplement to take daily in order to provide the tools your body needs to break down foods into molecules small enough to be used by the body. Those OTC products in your local pharmacies usually don’t have a broad range of enzymes. The best products are usually found in health food stores or online. In fact, once you do a little research into digestive enzyme therapy, you will see that many of them are known to provide relief to a number of other health issues as well. (Bromelain has anti-inflammatory properties which helps relieve pain and swelling caused by arthritis!) In other words, bloating is simply the result of improperly digested foods.