Stop that Gas Attack!

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It pains me to write about this subject, as I find it difficult to maintain composure as an adult when discussing the subject of ..well, flatulence. You know, passing the gas, tooting, cutting the cheese, etc. I could go on, but then the point of this blog entry would be lost.

Many of us have issues with digestion, either with acid reflux (heartburn), gas of some sort, constipation and/or diarrhea. Going from an unhealthy diet of junk/fast food to a super healthy eating plan can also cause an "uproar" in our system. What may be lacking are the necessary and beneficial enzymes need to properly breakdown our food, as well as a quality probiotic supplement to assist with the complete digestive process.

Your mother or grandmother may have had a point when she told you to chew your food slowly. It's the enzymes in our saliva that aid in assimilating the nutrients in our meals. The next time you plan on indulging in a heavy meal, try taking a few enzyme and probiotic supplements 15 minutes prior to eating and see how much better you'll fare.

Contact me if you're confused about which enzymes and probiotics to take for optimal digestion.

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Food Combos for Optimal Digestion (from Bottomline Daily Health News)

Americans have gotten so used to indigestion that we consider it virtually a normal way of life, routinely tolerating stomachaches, cramps, gas, diarrhea, constipation and the like. However, this need not be the case, and there are steps you can take to reverse this trend without use of antacids and other pharmaceuticals. According to Daily Health News contributing editor, Andrew L. Rubman, ND, how you put your meals together greatly influences their digestibility. In this month's Rubman's Digestion Connection, we tackle the science of combining foods for better digestion and absorption.

DIFFERENT TIMETABLES FOR DIGESTION

Every day we eat a variety of foods containing proteins, carbohydrates and fats from meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, etc. The body requires food diversity to meet its needs, explains Dr. Rubman. Yet each category of food requires different enzymes to digest them, and each category has its own timetable of digestion. This means that in order to achieve optimal digestibility and absorption, it is essential to monitor food combinations.

THE BASIC PRINCIPLES

Fortunately, there are just a few simple rules to follow in order to correctly combine foods. Dr. Rubman advises...

* Do not combine simple carbohydrates with highly saturated fats. Simple carbohydrates for example, from processed and refined sugars and from sugars in fruits (fructose), tend to be high-glycemic foods, meaning that, when eaten alone, they quickly raise blood glucose levels. In contrast, saturated fats such as those in red meat or processed meats, may take up to four hours to digest. The digestive process slows down for a time during this period, which allows potentially dangerous microorganisms in food the opportunity to feed on the carbohydrates which can lead to the infiltration of the digestive tract lining (or leaky gut syndrome) and cause digestive disturbances. The problem is especially pronounced for those who have insufficient stomach acid due to stress, aging or medication.

Dr. Rubman's suggestion: If you choose to eat your steak and potatoes, consider taking digestive enzymes to ensure you have adequate levels of stomach acid.

* Do not eat fruits with meals. Dr. Rubman recommends eating fruits as an appetizer a half-an-hour before a meal, rather than as a dessert. He explains that fruits are normally digested very quickly. For example, when you eat fruit, just half an hour later you've digested it. When you eat fruits with other foods, however, you slow their digestion. The fruit sits and can ferment until all foods are ready to move on together. This, again, can allow damaging microorganisms such as Candida to gain a foothold in the body, warns Dr. Rubman.

When you belch after a meal, he points out that it is often not from swallowed air, but from gas and fermentation in the stomach due to improperly combined foods.

* Just say no to dessert. The worst thing you can do is to put a simple carb on top of a healthful, balanced meal, notes Dr. Rubman. Sugary sweet high-glycemic desserts, which would normally be digested rapidly, instead sit and ferment while the whole meal undergoes lengthier digestion.

If you're going to eat sweets, it's best to eat them on an empty stomach for optimal digestion (of course, this is not so good for blood sugar, but that's a discussion for another day). Treat sweets as special treats rather than every day events, chew them slowly and thoroughly so the pleasure lasts longer.

* Combine foods that contain different amino acids. Especially for the vegetarians among us, it's important to combine grains, fruits and vegetables -- which contain different amino acids -- in order to complete the essential amino acid profile, says Dr. Rubman. They do not need to be eaten together in one meal (although that's fine too). However, eat portions within a four hour time period. A black bean chili or white bean soup, and a healthful grain such as brown rice -- will do the trick. To learn more about these combinations, Dr. Rubman recommends taking a look at Diet for a Small Planet (Ballantine) by Frances Moore Lappé.

* Chew foods very thoroughly. Chew foods until they are virtually in liquid form before swallowing. The more food is broken down in the mouth, the more readily it can pass through the rest of the gastrointestinal tract.

OPTIMIZE YOUR DIGESTION

Of course, combining foods correctly is only part of an overall digestive strategy that also entails a diet filled with a rich variety of whole foods, with more healthful fats (wild salmon, avocados, olive oil, flaxseed, etc.) than saturated ones (hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, etc.), and complex carbs such as whole grains and starchy vegetables instead of simple carbohydrates from white sugar. When the goal is healthful digestion, Dr. Rubman also strongly cautions against antacid use. Clever advertising seduces many consumers with digestive challenges to reach for these, when in reality Americans suffer from a shortage of, rather than excess, stomach acid. Also: Limit beverages during meals. They dilute digestive enzymes.

Whatever your digestive challenges, rest assured that there's a solution for you, and very often all that is entailed is making simple, healthful, common sense choices. When in doubt, consult a trained physician to help you devise a sensible plan.

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Sources:

Food Combos for Optimal Digestion

* Andrew L. Rubman, ND, adjunct professor of clinical medicine, Florida College of Integrative Medicine, Orlando, and director, Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines, Southbury, CT.

Jeanette Lee Hada

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