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How to Eliminate Bloating and Digestive Upset in 3 Steps

Digestive disorders are extremely common in the modern world. In America, for instance, it’s estimated that nearly 100 million people out of just over 320 million have some sort of digestive disorder.

That means a lot of people are taking a big hit to their quality of life on a daily basis. Digestive troubles can add misery to your days, whether they involve bloating, cramping, pain, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, or other complaints.

Troubles in your digestive tract can also take a toll on the health of your entire body. Researchers have correlated the health of the digestive tract with “many chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, cancer, and autism” [1].

Health and the Digestive System

When you consider the roles that your gut plays in your body, it makes sense that digestive health could have such an impact on overall health.

Over 2000 years ago, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates proclaimed, “All disease begins in the gut.” After all, the functioning of the trillions of cells in your body depends on the nutrients that your gut is supposed to absorb.

The digestive system has a few other purposes. They are:

Importantly, if your gut is in poor condition and not digesting food properly, you could be experiencing “leaky gut syndrome,” which causes food particles to leak through the walls of your intestines, enter your bloodstream, and cause inflammation throughout your body [2].

This inflammation damages your body and can increase your chances of developing many diseases (since most diseases are linked with inflammation). Autoimmune diseases are thought to involve a leaky gut because of the overactivation of the immune system, which causes inflammation [2].

Enzymes Are Critical for Proper Digestion

Key Point

Your food has to be broken down efficiently for your gut to be healthy. If you're not properly digesting the protein, carbs, and fats you’re eating, it can cause a huge disruption in your intestinal health. Improperly digested food can cause inflammation and alter the “ecosystem” of the gut, the delicate balance of bacteria that keeps your gut functioning healthily [3].

Your food has to be broken down efficiently for your gut to be healthy. If you're not properly digesting the protein, carbs, and fats you’re eating, it can cause a huge disruption in your intestinal health. Improperly digested food can cause inflammation and alter the “ecosystem” of the gut, the delicate balance of bacteria that keeps your gut functioning healthily [3].

And the inflammation that undigested food causes interferes with the absorption of vitamins and minerals [3]. The result is that all of your cells suffer from not getting the fuel they need to perform.

Stomach acid, bile, and digestive enzymes are needed to properly break down food, yet some people don’t produce enough enzymes to break down food. You need protease to break down proteins, amylase to break down carbohydrates, and lipase to break down fats.

Without enough of these enzymes, you won’t absorb your food, and your intestinal health will suffer.

These digestive enzymes can be supplemented in those who could benefit from them. As people age, they produce less of these enzymes, and many practitioners think that our modern lifestyles and diet of cooked and processed foods deplete us of these enzymes. Those with digestive issues could benefit from supplementing with enzymes so that they are properly absorbing food and not stressing their intestines.

Ways to Relieve Digestive Upset

Let’s discuss the ways that you can relieve bloating and digestive upset, and improve the health of your gut, including the right enzymes to take.

Step 1 - Improve Your Diet

There are many healthy, therapeutic foods that can be included in your diet to soothe your digestive tract, promote the growth of healthy bacteria, and improve your digestion. Here’s a list:

1. Aloe Vera

Many people swear by the use of aloe vera to soothe digestive distress. This tropical plant is often used in gels that can be applied to the skin to ease pain after a sunburn. If you drink aloe vera juice or eat the flesh of aloe vera itself (it looks like a clear jelly-like substance), it can soothe your stomach and intestines. Research has shown that aloe vera can decrease damage-causing inflammation and oxidative stress in colon tissue [4].

    2. Bone Broth

      Bone broth has caught a lot of attention over the last few years. And for good reason. It’s easily digestible and contains many valuable nutrients to heal the gut.

      One of these nutrients is gelatin, which protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and assists in the digestion of nutrients. It also contains high levels of the amino acids glycine and proline, which have anti-inflammatory effects.

      3. Red Cabbage

      Glutamine is a critical part of our digestive system that helps prevent and rebuild a leaky gut [5]. Glutamine has been shown to be effective in people with ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.

      Red cabbage is considered the densest vegetable form of L-glutamine. So eat red cabbage to give your gut the tools it needs to repair the walls of your intestines!

        4. Leafy Greens

          Don’t forget to eat your greens. Humans are meant to eat plenty of leaves. Other primates, our closest relatives in nature, eat plenty of leafy greens. Various lettuces and greens like kale and chard contain indigestible fiber–inulin–that helps stimulate the growth of probiotics [6].

          These probiotics help absorb nutrients, quell digestive distress and inflammation, and keep the gut barrier tight.

          5. Kimchi

          Kimchi, or fermented cabbage, is a traditional Korean dish. The probiotic content of kimchi will soothe your gut.

          Researchers describe the broad health-boosting effects of kimchi as involving “anti-cancer, anti-obesity, anti-constipation, colorectal health promotion, probiotic properties, cholesterol reduction … antioxidative and anti-aging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion” [23].

            6. Asparagus

              You’ve heard of probiotics, but what about prebiotics?

              Prebiotics refer to fibers that feed the good bacteria in your gut. It’s important to eat plenty of fiber so that gut-soothing bacteria can flourish after they settle in your tract.

              Asparagus is often cited as a powerful prebiotic because of its oligosaccharide and inulin content [24]

                7. Garlic

                  Garlic is another food that is not only delicious but a potent prebiotic [25].

                  Along with having a multitude of health benefits, garlic benefits your gut by helping to clear out pathogens like parasites that can cause digestive distress [7].

                  Step 2 - Make changes To Your Lifestyle

                    1. Eat at Regular Times

                      Stick to a pretty consistent eating pattern if you want to have less digestive distress. It doesn’t have to be down to the exact minute, but your body likes to know when to expect food.

                      For instance, you’re more likely to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) if you eat at irregular times [8]. So get into an eating pattern.

                        2. Exercise Consistently

                          Try to walk or get some moderate exercise most days of the week. Lack of physical activity is correlated with digestive distress [8].

                          No need to go too hard at it. Overly strenuous exercise can cause digestive upset, but mild to moderate exercise can reduce the risk of “colon cancer, diverticular disease … and constipation,” which are all digestive disorders related to distress and inflammation [9].

                          Exercise can even enhance the health of the good bacteria in your gut [10]! You’ll have a healthier gut ecosystem if you get moving.

                            3. De-Stress

                              When you get stressed out, good bacteria die, the walls of your gut become leaky, and inflammation rears its ugly head [11]. All of these changes lead to havoc in the gut.

                              We all know from experience that stress affects how our guts feel. If we’re upset or anxious about something, we can have spasms, get diarrhea, or experience acid reflux.

                              Scientists have measured a variety of negative physical changes in the gut that result from stress.

                              When you get stressed out, good bacteria die, the walls of your gut become leaky, and inflammation rears its ugly head [11]. All of these changes lead to havoc in the gut.

                              4. Make Time for Sleep

                              Lack of sleep can cause inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract to intensify [12]. This causes all digestive disorders to worsen.

                                5. Laugh More

                                  Laughter de-stresses your body, releases tension, and allows for a calmer digestive tract. If your body is less stressed, there will be less distressing inflammation in your gut!

                                  Step 3 - Take Digestive Enzymes

                                  Many supplemental digestive enzymes can improve digestive functioning and soothe digestive distress. Here’s a list:

                                  1. Proteases

                                  After you eat food, your body breaks down proteins into their individual components, amino acids. Proteases break down these proteins so that you can assimilate amino acids.

                                  And because of this improved assimilation, researchers suggest that proteases can help relieve the symptoms of “various digestive disorders” [13]. If you’re breaking down the proteins you eat more effectively, it makes sense that you would experience less digestive distress from undigested food particles.   

                                    2. Lipase

                                      Your body needs fat. This macronutrient is used to generate hormones and build protective membranes of your cells.

                                      Lipase processes the fats you eat, and you need this enzyme to properly absorb all those healthy fats you’re eating. If your body is not absorbing fats, your bowel movements might leave oily residues.

                                      If your pancreas is not producing enough lipase and you're not absorbing fats, lipase supplementation is the standard therapy [14]. Evidence has shown that lipase supplementation reduces the uncomfortable fullness that results from digestive stress after high-fat meals [15].

                                      3. Glucoamylase

                                      This enzyme digests the glucose in starch in grains, potatoes, and vegetables. Your body produces glucoamylase in your mouth and pancreas to liberate the simple glucose molecules from the complex chains they are bound to in starch.

                                      Research in animals has proved that glucoamylase supplementation does indeed improve starch absorption [16].

                                        4. Bromelain

                                          In humans, an enzyme supplement that included bromelain led to “symptomatic improvements in pain, flatulence and stool frequency” [17]. Researchers say more evidence shows that bromelain has been “administered successfully as a digestive enzyme to treat intestinal disorders” [17].

                                          Bromelain is an enzyme in pineapple that is incredibly therapeutic. The evidence shows that bromelain puts a stop to inflammation and digestive distress.

                                          In humans, an enzyme supplement that included bromelain led to “symptomatic improvements in pain, flatulence and stool frequency” [17]. Researchers say more evidence shows that bromelain has been “administered successfully as a digestive enzyme to treat intestinal disorders” [17].

                                          Considering bromelain’s abilities to digest proteins and stop inflammation, it’s little wonder that it's so effective in stopping pain and gas.

                                            5. Phytase

                                              Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient found in plant foods, and it can interfere with the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and starch.

                                              Fortunately, phytase does improve digestion and the breakdown of phytate so that nutritional components can be more easily digested [18].

                                                6. Xylanase

                                                  This enzyme breaks down hemicellulose, one of the main cell wall components from plants.

                                                  As a result, you can more easily assimilate the nutrients found inside plant cells. And research has shown that xylanase supplementation does indeed improve nutrient absorption [19]. Also, in animal studies, there’s evidence that xylanase can improve the digestion of wheat [20].

                                                    7. Lactase

                                                      So many of us are lactose intolerant or have trouble digesting dairy products. It’s estimated that around 75% of the world’s population doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase which helps digest the lactose sugar in milk [21]. In these cases, lactose is not absorbed and causes discomfort and pain in the digestive tract.

                                                      But if you’re consuming dairy and you supplement with lactase, you will have a much better time breaking down the lactose in dairy [21][22].

                                                      Conclusion

                                                      You have power over your digestive tract. Lifestyle, diet, and supplemental enzymes can vastly improve the functioning of your gut.

                                                      If you're efficiently breaking down everything you’re eating, you won’t experience the digestive distress that makes you feel terrible for hours. If this distress is chronic, it can ruin your quality of life. We all want to feel well, for sure!

                                                      Eating shouldn’t be a pain in the butt. It should be enjoyable and easy. You should feel satisfied after eating healthy food, not battling pain.

                                                      So if you implement the right habits and take supportive enzymes, your gut will be healthier, your body will be stronger, and you’ll love life more.