Do You Experience Bloating, Gas Or Indigestion?


Bloating is a very common and annoying concern; occasional bloating may be attributable to over-eating or consuming foods that do not agree with you. However, constant bloating could be associated with hormonal insufficiency, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerances and high stress levels, to name just a few. At the centre of all of this is our digestive system:

How does your digestive system work?

Our bodies obtain nutrients from foods that are broken down efficiently by digestive enzymes, which are released as soon as we ingest food. The effects of improper digestion are widespread and include feeling lethargic, uncomfortable, a bulging stomach, bloating, rumbling or gas and wind.

It is often said that ‘you are what you eat’ and whilst this remains true to a certain extent, what is equally important is the state of your digestive system. Even if you were to eat a healthy, nutritious meal, if your digestive system is not functioning at its optimal level, then the body will not receive all the nutrients that it depends upon. Every single cell within the human body depends upon the supply of vital nutrients and an optimal digestive system depends upon the production of digestive enzymes.

What are digestive enzymes?

Enzymes are necessary for all functions carried out within our bodies. Currently, more than 3000 enzymes have been identified and experts believe that there are literally thousands of enzymes that have yet to be identified. Such is the complexity of the human body.

Enzymes basically act as catalysts working to quicken any process that they are involved in. Every organ, tissue and cells have their own specific enzymes designed to carry out appropriate processes. Without enzymes one would not be able to digest food, breathe, move or even think.

We are constantly being reminded about drinking plenty of water, eating high fibre foods and consuming lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and yet large numbers of the population still experience constant bloating, gas and indigestion. The reason could be the lack of digestive enzymes. Our bodies require sufficient amounts of digestive enzymes to break down food as it passes through the gastrointestinal tract. The foods we eat require to be broken down into smaller bits in order to obtain nutrients from them. They are generally grouped as containing fats, proteins, carbohydrates, fibres and other components. As soon as we ingest food, these digestive enzymes are released in the small intestine from the liver, gall bladder and pancreas. Digestive enzymes are specialised proteins and can be generally classified as:

  • Proteases to break down proteins
  • Lipases to break down fats
  • Amylases to break down carbohydrates

What affects our production of digestive enzymes?

  • Digestive enzymes are produced naturally by the body but their production can diminish for several reasons including:
  • Ageing – as we age, our production of digestive enzymes diminishes.
  • Stress because our bodies are not equipped to digest food under stressful conditions.
  • Poor eating habits such as not chewing food properly or rushing through meals.
  • Imbalanced diets that do not have the right mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
  • Eating insufficient raw foods which contain naturally occurring enzymes.
  • Inadequate vitamin and mineral levels
  • Exposure to artificial colours and preservatives.

With so many factors affecting digestive enzymes, is it a surprise that vast numbers of the population suffer from minor digestive concerns?

Most people neglect the first step of digestion and that is to chew food thoroughly. Chewing food thoroughly has great benefits by breaking down food into smaller particles that are easier to digest, by stimulating the flow of saliva which has its own digestive enzymes and the actual action of chewing sends signals to the pancreas and other digestive organs to ensure digestive enzyme production. By the same token, do not chew gum because this fools the digestive organs into releasing digestive enzymes resulting in possible glandular exhaustion.

If you do not have sufficient digestive enzymes then taking the above steps will have no major benefits from the relief of bloating, occasional constipation, reflux, abdominal discomfort and other related issues. I am not going to bore you with all the individual digestive enzymes and their role in great detail except to say that the use of a digestive enzyme supplement can help and may put less strain on the digestive system.

Why it’s worth considering digestive enzyme supplements

Studies indicate that the body’s natural digestive enzyme production starts to decline by the time you reach 20. These studies further indicate that digestive enzyme production decreases by an average of 12 percent with every ten years of age so that by the time you reach your forties, it is roughly 25 percent of when you are young. To make matters worse, hydrochloric acid production in the stomach also declines with age and this is crucial for activating all of the stomach’s digestive enzymes. This digestive enzyme depletion can not only result in many of the digestive concerns such as bloating and gas but it can result in nutrient depletion in the body and there are several studies that show that using digestive enzymes can increase nutrient absorption by hundreds of percentages.

How digestive enzymes reduce inflammation

In addition to playing a role in digestion, digestive enzymes also help to reduce inflammation in the body and speed healing after surgery. In general, protein digesting enzymes can help to prevent tissue damage, inflammation and swelling. Inflammation is linked to virtually every single chronic disease that affect our bodies including heart disease, poor cognitive function and joint function.

There are hundreds of digestive enzyme supplements on the market and many people find it difficult to choose which one to take. I am a great fan of Life Extension, a pioneering research based company and I have no hesitation in recommending Enhanced Super Digestive Enzymes. This digestive enzyme supplement fits my criteria because:

  • Super Digestive Enzymes contains a mixture of enzymes to break down all the food groups, without affecting the body’s own production.
  • It contains the enzyme activity rather than just the weight of each ingredient.
  • Super Digestive Enzymes are free from known allergens such as yeast, shellfish, artificial flavours, colours and preservatives.
  • It can have health benefits, including helping to boost your immune system and increase energy levels.

Final thought

Eating a balanced diet all the time is next to impossible for most of us on a daily basis. If we ate a diet of raw and whole foods only, which contain naturally occurring enzymes, then our bodies would not need to work overtime to produce more nor would we end up with digestive exhaustion. Instead we are, for all the reasons mentioned within the article, putting a huge burden on our digestive system.

This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner.

Shabir Daya | , , , , , ,
  • Joan Murphy

    I suffer from diverticular disease and over the holidays had a bit of a flare up I know that when the food is trapped in the pockets it causes pain, constipation and feverish symptoms Would I benefit from taking something like digestive enzymes or something like Super fibre cleanse. I also have a hiatus hernia for which I take daily medication which obviously upsets the balance of stomach acids so I am not sure if this is also a contributory factor I would appreciate your advice Regards Joan

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Joan, rather than fibre which is not always agreeable by people with diverticulitis, I would first recommend the use of Effervescent Vitamin C – Magnesium Crystals to be taken for a couple of weeks to clear the gut of mucoid plaque and then follow this with Complete Fiber Cleanse to be taken once daily. I don’t think that the digestive enzymes will cleanse the gut and I think that is paramount first. Shabir

  • Victoria Health

    Dear Nicola, Wheat is a big culprit for many digestive disorders and even for skin; I have often recommended a wheat free diet for acne sufferers and this works very well. The problem with PPI’s is that these reduce acid production by the stomach which often results in nutrient deficiencies since food needs to be broken down efficiently in order to extract nutrients from it. Enhanced Super Digestive Enzymes do not contain Betaine HCl which would not be good alongside your PPI’s but does contain bromelain and other digestive enzymes to break down protein, carbs, fibres and fats efficiently. Additionally, many digestive enzymes have an anti-inflammatory activity helping to calm inflammation in the body including the gut. Please take the digestive enzyme supplement with the largest meal of the day and perhaps also consider the use of a good probiotic such as Mega Probiotic ND, a dairy free multi-strain probiotic supplement. Shabir

  • Mark Charlton

    Thanks for the article. For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from bloating which increases as the day goes on. Although I’ve noticed it reduces when I have a strong exercise regime, recently I’ve been taking a longer gap between dinner and breakfast (11-12hours+) and I’ve noticed a massive difference. Hope this helps!

    Not sure how helpful or true the last comment is…”If we ate a diet of raw and whole foods only…” since the few people I know who have followed these recommendations don’t have improved digestions; sometimes, the opposite! What we eat is like learning a language…it’s part of our culture, our inheritance, our friendships and family patterns. It’s highly complex and sophisticated, and I think it’s unnecessary, and irresponsible, to make over-simplistic often unachievable and unrealistic recommendations.

    Have a happy New Year!

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Mark, there are numerous factors that may shut down digestive enzymes as per my editorial; perhaps the longer gap simply allows the body to recover more than any other reason. The last para was trying to emphasise that eating five or six portions of raw vegetables, as in a salad, is not a lot to ask to enhance one’s digestive health – unfortunately numerous studies indicate that large numbers of people don’t even have a salad on a daily basis. Thank you for the feedback though and have a happy and healthy New Year.

  • Sharon

    Could you recommend a digestive enzyme supplement that is suitable for vegans? Thanks!

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Sharon, please try the aptly named Vegan Digestive Enzymes as per link below.

    Best wishes,

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Jo, I normally tend to recommend Enhanced Super Digestive Enzymes in the link below.
    If you suspect or have an intolerance to gluten or wheat, then please use Udo’s Digestive Enzymes in the link below.
    Best wishes,