Overeating, bolting your meals, or overindulging in spicy or fatty foods is the most common cause of indigestion. Marked by bloating, gas, heartburn, and a feeling of fullness, most people have experienced indigestion at one time or another. If you are among them, try these strategies for fast relief.
The key to avoiding indigestion is to eat slowly and chew your food well. When you eat too quickly, your stomach produces more acid, which can lead to a bout with heartburn. It’s also important to eat smaller portions. When you overeat, the food stays in the stomach longer before it is transferred to the small intestine. This not only leads to bloating, it increases the possibility that food mixed with stomach acid will travel back into the esophagus and create a burning sensation. If you suffer from frequent indigestion, keep a food diary to help pinpoint which foods you should avoid.
If you smoke, be aware that smoking can make indigestion worse by stimulating acid production in the stomach. Smoking also slows down digestion and the time it takes food to travel to the small intestine. Take a walk instead. Physical activity not only helps to reduce cravings, it aids digestion and burns calories. Being overweight causes more pressure in the stomach. Losing weight or maintaining your ideal body weight can help relieve symptoms.
DGL (Deglycyrrhizinated licorice): quickly and effectively soothes the heartburn that often accompanies indigestion. Although the herb doesn't reduce stomach acid, it’s thought that DGL works by soothing irritated stomach and esophageal tissue. It may also act as an anti-inflammatory. Typical dosage: Chew two DGL tablets as soon as symptoms arise.
Digestive enzymes:are essential for the breakdown of food and the absorption of nutrients. Among the most important enzymes are protease, lipase, and amylase. Each of these enzymes works to digest a specific type of macro-nutrient. Protease breaks apart protein. Lipase processes fat. And amylase digests carbohydrates. Taking a broad spectrum of digestive enzymes with each meal helps to ensure that your digestive tract has sufficient enzymes to process the foods you eat. A double-blind crossover study conducted at the Minneapolis Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center confirms the efficacy of taking digestive enzymes for everyday gastrointestinal problems. Healthy volunteers ate a high-calorie, high-fat meal along with either an enzyme supplement or a placebo. Symptoms were then recorded for the next 17 hours. Unlike the placebo, the enzyme supplement significantly reduced bloating, gas, and the feeling of fullness. Typical dosage: Take according to the label directions, either with meals or immediately after eating.
Peppermint oil: has a centuries old reputation as a carminative herb for indigestion (‘carminative’ means it helps gas symptoms). Today, studies show that peppermint oil reduces gastrointestinal spasms that can cause abdominal cramping. It may also ease bloating and flatulence. In one clinical trial, a supplement containing peppermint and caraway oils reduced bloating, gas, and cramping. Typical dosage: 0.2 to 0.4 ml of peppermint oil in enteric-coated capsules.