Bloating and gas in are often associated with poor digestion due to a lack of digestive enzymes that facilitate the breakdown of the foods you eat. Under ordinary circumstances, the pancreas supplies enzymes and other digestive juices to process what we eat; however, some people’s body’s do not produce enough of one or more of the proper enzymes needed for good health. You can augment your body’s supply by eating certain foods or taking enzyme supplements. Speak with your health practitioner before making drastic changes to your diet.
Several cooking herbs and spices produce an ezymatic affect on the food you eat. Fennel, ginger, catnip, peppermint, basil and spearmint provide varying degrees of digestive enzymes that help break down food in the stomach and help prevent fermentation, which produces gas and eventually, bloating. These herbs should be consumed raw; however, if that is not possible, lightly cooking them should retain many of their properties. Incorporating some of these herbs into an herbal tea is another healthful way to consume them and take advantage of their enzymatic qualities. Take the tea with meals for greatest benefits. Do not sweeten herbal tea if you are using it as an enzyme supplement. The addition of any type of sugar may contribute to fermentation in your stomach depending on the foods you eat.
Two fruits in particular may be helpful in the digestion of proteins. Both bromelain and papain are found in enzyme supplements and can be added to your diet by eating fresh pineapples and papayas respectively. These potent enzymes break down all proteins, making them easier to digest. The faster foods are digested and passed through your system, the less likelihood exists for you to develop gas. The enzymes are most active when you eat the fruit raw or drink freshly-made juices. Do not consume either fruit from a can or bottle, as enzymes do not survive during heating from the manufacturing process. Alternatively, try eating the fruit dried, as long as the drying process is natural and not heated. If you can’t get enough enzymes from the fruits themselves, supplements are available in health food stores. Both papain and bromelain are acceptable sources for vegetarians. Bromelain may thin the blood, so speak with your health practitioner if you take blood thinners before taking it in supplement form.
Organic, Raw Honey
Adding honey to your diet is one of the best ways to consume enzymes that will help break down starches, carbohydrates and other sugars. However, not all honey will provide the enzymes needed for this process. You must eat raw, organic honey that contains all of its components for the fullest benefit. These components include royal jelly, propolis and bee pollen. You may not be able to find this kind of honey easily; however, a thorough search of the internet or calling your local health food store should yield results. Add a spoonful or two of honey to your meals when you’ll be eating large amounts of carbohydrates. If you use honey to help break down sugars and starches, it is best not to eat protein at the same meal due to the possibility of creating unwanted gas and bloating. If you can’t avoid eating proteins, make sure to add bromelain or papain to help with their breakdown.
Raw, organic, unpasturized milk provides copious amounts of the enzyme lipase, which the body uses to digest fats. Both cow’s and goat’s milk are excellent sources of these enzymes. In addition, butter made from raw cow’s milk provides the same enzymes. The enzymes found in raw milk also help to prevent lactose intolerance, a condition resulting from the absence of lactase enzyme in pasturized milk. If you are unable to find raw milk butter, sweet butter with cultures will also help in the breakdown of fats, preventing excess gas formation in the gut. If you choose to consume raw milk products, be sure to buy them from a recognized, approved dairy or health food store with the highest standards for the safest products.
Colorado State University: Exocrine Secretions of the Pancreas: R. Bowen, July 2006
University of Michigan Health System: Digestive Enzymes
University of Michigan Health System: Bromelain
Colorado State University: Lactose Intolerance – Lactase Non-Persistence; R. Bowen; April 2009
“The Acid Alkaline Balance”; Felicia Drury Kliment; 2002
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