Bob Dylan may have crooned, “The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind,” but you probably want some real answers on how to reduce your occasional gas and bloating.
There are many reasons why you may be experiencing these uncomfortable symptoms. The cause could be as simple as swallowing air while sipping carbonated drinks from a straw, smoking, chewing gum, sucking hard candy or eating too quickly. Burping and flatulence are two ways swallowed air leave the body.
While occasional gas and bloating may be maddening, the good news is that many of the most common causes can be easy to resolve.
What Causes Occasional Gas and Bloating?
Undigested food stuck in the large intestine is often the root of the problem. Bacteria feed off this food and multiply, which produces foul-smelling gas in the abdomen. Essentially, gas is created by fermentation occurring in the colon.
If you experience gas after eating, you may have an enzyme deficiency. Digestive enzymes are catalysts that help break bonds that hold foods together. Enzymes break down food throughout the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. When there is a deficiency of enzymes, food is not broken down effectively and gets stuck in the large intestine, causing the uncomfortable symptoms of gas and bloating.
The large intestine can be compared to a kitchen colander used to strain pasta. If the food molecules are too large, they will not pass and will build up in the colander, causing heaviness. But, if the molecules were broken down properly with enzymes, they would be small enough to pass through the colander effortlessly.
“Many people who have food intolerances don’t have enough enzymes to digest certain foods,” says Dr. Murray. “Bacteria in the colon eat up undigested food like candy and multiply, and when they multiply, they produce a lot of gas, and the digestive process is thrown all out of whack.”
How Enzymes Can Help Prevent Occasional Gas and Bloating?
Since a main cause of occasional gas and bloating is due to a deficiency in enzymes, the best way to prevent these symptoms naturally is by taking an enzyme supplement before eating your meal.*
The enzyme alpha-galactosidase is key for the digestion of sugars, beans, grains, raw vegetables and other foods that may cause digestive discomfort.* This enzyme may be taken as a supplement to assist the body in breaking down these foods.
Here is a list of foods that can be difficult to digest and may cause gas and bloating. Everyone’s body will react differently to these foods, so you may want to test them separately to see how your body tolerates each food:
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Ice cream
- Milk products
- Dried Legumes
- Baked beans
- Dried beans, like kidney, pinto, garbanzos, lima and navy
- Dried peas, like split peas and lentils
- Prunes and raisins
- Grains and Starches
- Bran cereal or breads
- Large amounts of wheat products
- High Fat Foods
- Fatty meats
- Fried foods
- Rich cream sauces
- Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower
- Green peppers
- Onions and leeks
- Radishes, rutabaga and turnips
Benefits of a Mixed Enzyme Supplement
With so many foods associated with occasional gas and bloating, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint which food you have an intolerance to.
For example, someone with a lactose intolerance does not produce sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, causing indigestion when they eat dairy products. But in some cases, the food intolerance is not actually lactose. Instead, the person is intolerant to casein, a protein found in dairy.
This is why a targeted enzyme supplement, such as Enzymedica’s Digest Spectrum, is essential.
Digest Spectrum contains enzymes that address the most common food intolerances: lactose, casein, gluten, phenol and complex carbohydrates (beans and vegetables).* This supplement also contains Enzymedica’s proprietary blending technology, Thera-blend®, for enzymes that break down every component of a typical meal, such as carbohydrates, fats, fiber and protein.* Taking this supplement provides peace of mind that you’re hitting just about everything on the list of gas-causing foods.
Taking a multi-enzyme supplement also allows for more flexibility in your food choices, and it can support cross-contamination when dining out. And, if your family has different food intolerances, a multi-enzyme supplement can conveniently cover all the bases. There is no need to worry about taking too many of any one type of enzyme. With a mixed-enzyme supplement, the body is going to use what it needs, and any excess of enzymes will only speed up the overall digestion process.
“Proper breakdown of every component of your meal not only means fewer digestive problems, it also results in improved absorption of the nutrients in your food, which leads to improved energy and overall vitality,” says Dr. Murray. “This improved digestion eliminates occasional gas and bloating before they begin.”
How Can Charcoal Help Relieve Gas?
Enzymes are ideal to prevent occasional gas and bloating, but if you already have these symptoms and are looking for relief, activated charcoal can help.*
In looking at charcoal under a microscope, it looks similar to a sponge with multiple little pockets. By the process of adsorption, gas bubbles are captured in these pockets and then transported out of the colon.
Charcoal comes from many sources. Many companies source their charcoal by cutting down trees and then burning them. Enzymedica, however, wanted to produce their charcoal in an eco-friendlier way.
Purify Activated Charcoal Plus contains charcoal plus alpha-galactosidase, the enzyme that breaks down complex carbohydrates in beans and vegetables. This capsule offers a one-two punch since it contains the enzyme to prevent occasional gas, as well as the charcoal that escorts gas bubbles from the colon.*
Activated Coconut Charcoal Powder helps to naturally flush toxins and air bubbles from the colon, soothing occasional gas and bloating, and boosting any detox protocol.*
“All of Enzymedica’s charcoal products are made from pharmaceutical-grade coconut charcoal that has been tested through the Clean Label Project, which tests for 130 contaminants,” says Dr. Murray. “This testing ensures the ultimate level of purity.”
Slow Down and Savor
If you struggle with occasional gas and bloating, it is important to slow down while eating.
Dr. Murray says that it’s helpful to understand what’s happening in our bodies when we digest our food. He explains that there are two types of digestion: mechanical (such as chewing food in the mouth and churning food in the stomach) and chemical (such as enzymes breaking down food into smaller molecules).
When we eat our food slowly, the chewing breaks down our food into smaller, more-digestible molecules. Also, there is the enzyme amylase in the saliva, so the longer you chew, the longer you expose the food to this enzyme.
“One of the best things people can do to improve occasional digestive challenges is to take their time when they eat and savor every bite,” says Dr. Murray.