Updated: Aug 20, 2020
Digestive symptoms are extremely common at all ages and not always so easy to identify the cause.
From babies with colic, small children with bloating, gas and diarrhea/constipation, and a wider range of symptoms as we mature. Digestive problems such as cramping, bloating, indigestion and acidity are all considered on the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) spectrum but can have completely different drivers.
The first assumption people make when they get bloating after a meal, is a sensitivity or intolerance to something they ate, however it is a somewhat misguided way of self-diagnosing the problem, especially if the bloating tends to occur no matter what you eat!
Intolerances and allergies are most unlikely to occur out of nowhere, and if they have not been historical in nature such as from childhood, it’s time to think again about what the underlying cause may be.
The digestive system requires that many things have to work together in order for it to run properly. It is like a very busy causeway and if the balance gets disrupted, the flow that digestion must follow upsets the entire environment.
These are the importance steps to follow:
Make sure you have enough stomach acid.
Stomach acid is the first stage after chewing to chemically break foods down into a soupy mix. There are a couple of enzymes also present but a strong pH is essential. Otherwise foods pass into the small intestine in large molecules and. Stomach acid is a gravely misunderstood area with much of the population trying to neutralize acid with antacids to relieve the discomfort of heartburn, reflux and a feeling of fullness. Acid is required to digest fat, meat, break milk down and neutralize acidic foods. These are often the foods that cause acidity only because the stomach cannot produce enough acid to break them down. Spices also trigger a reaction by making the stomach produce more acid in an alkaline environment. Digestion has a top down effect and poorly digested foods enter the small intestine then starts to ferment with the digestive enzymes present.
Start by taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon in water at the onset of each meal and a good digestive enzyme from the pharmacy may also be helpful. Fruits such as apple, papaya, kiwi and the core of a pineapple also have enzymes helpful for digestion and often an apple after dinner is great for reducing acidity. Hot water with lemon, ginger, a pinch of cayenne pepper is also a champion digestive.
Look after your micro-organisms
The gut flora or bacteria is constantly under attack by antibiotics, food spoilage, yeasts from baking and brewing, and a poor immune system. A potent Probiotic to re-establish bacterial balance and up regulate IgA is a great boost to the gut ecosystem.
A diet heavy on refined carbohydrates and sugar are ideal for feeding the wrong types of bacteria and yeasts and often cause bloating.
Boost your enzymes
Two digestive enzymes are integral in the stomach – pepsin and betaine while most enzymes come from the pancreas in response to foods entering the small intestine. The pH is watered down to neutralize stomach and enzymes go to work to further split foods into a unit that can be carried across the digestive lining and utilized by the body.
Once in the system, if you suspect a food has caused a rash, headache, sneezing or itchiness, then you maybe having an IgG reaction to a specific food and a Food Intolerance will help identify this.
If a food causes a digestive symptom such as gas, bloating, cramps, changes to bowel movement, this is a sensitivity to what is happening in the small intestine.
The large bowel or colon is where the bacteria and yeast mostly reside and this is where most of the gas and bloating and cramping occurs.
Modern genetically modified (GM) gluten proteins and preservatives
There is a suggestion that GM gluten has been a bit of a game changer which may explain why you can tolerate some wheat and not others. Durum attar wheat is hard wheat and is not developed to form an elastic dough necessary for bread making. It is made into a dough and rolled for pasta or chapattis making it easier to digest.
Eat Anti-microbial foods
Our digestive system is extremely well geared up to protect us from most invading toxins that might enter through food or water, however, our immunity also needs to be strong and robust.
Many foods and botanicals can help boost immunity such as garlic, turmeric, papaya, ginger, coconut, vit D, zinc, vitamin C, Echinacea and Ginseng.
The gut lining is also very important as a barrier to protecting the body from toxins and also for good absorption of what we need for our health to flourish. Stress so often hits you in the gut as the brain and gut are partners. As with our outer skin and joints, the gut lining needs collagen from foods and amino sugars such as glucosamine, good fats such as coconut oil and butyric acid from butter and some nice slime promoting foods such as Aloe Vera, deglyceralized licorice, marshmallow root and Slippery Elm.
Keeping the bowel moving is also a big problem due to refined and processed foods stripped of fibre. Fibre supplements can be an easy substitute but don’t offer the other nutrient benefits of consuming more whole grains, fruit and vegetables.
Getting to know the personality of your gut is well worth the effort and finding out how you can best support it with its requirements rather than your favorite foods!