Digestion is the process your body uses to break down food into the nutrients it needs for energy, cell repair and growth.
Good digestion is an important factor for long term health.
Indigestion can not only be the source of pain and discomfort, but can also cause other issues such as headache, nausea, fatigue, high blood pressure, etc., which can have a very negative effect on your quality of life. (1)
Signs of Indigestion
Some of the signs of Indigestion may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Reflux of stomach contents into throat or mouth
- Belching and gas
- Nausea and vomiting
- Acidic taste/dry mouth
- Growling stomach
- Burning in the stomach or upper abdomen
- Abdominal pain
- Frequent coughing though not sick
These symptoms may increase in times of stress and can also be due to other possible underlying problems.
Traditional Indigestion Remedies
There are a lot of different remedies for indigestion available in the market. Most of them have to do with prescription drugs and anti-acids. The problem with these remedies is that they treat the effects and not the causes.
Conventional drugs designed to deal with indigestion offer only temporary relief. In addition, these indigestion remedies can have some serious side effects. (2)
The good news is that there is a better and safer solution. Natural indigestion remedies can work effectively in helping you get rid of indigestion. Most of these remedies work by showing you how to help your body digest the food you eat faster and more efficiently.
Natural Remedies For Indigestion
In reality, there are indigestion remedies that are totally natural and with no side-effects. These remedies respect how the body works and are based on how the body digests the food you eat.
You need to understand that the stomach produces two different types of enzymes when digesting food. These two enzymes are acid and alkaline enzymes. (3)
The problem is that when you eat meals that require both types of enzymes to be released, they neutralize each other. When this happens, the food stays longer in your digestive system and you feel the effects of indigestion.
The good news is that by planning a little ahead before you eat, you will get rid of indigestion easily while still being able to eat the foods that you enjoy eating. The key is not to avoid certain foods but to see how you combine them.
The first thing to remember is NOT to mix carbohydrate foods (rice, cereals, pasta) with protein foods (dairy products, fish, meats). This is the most important rule in food combining because these two kinds of foods use two opposite type of enzymes in order to be processed by the body.
Another great natural indigestion remedy is to chew your food as much as you can. This seems silly but is extremely important since the smaller the chunks of foods the stomach needs to digest, the quicker the food will go through the system and the less acid will need to be released to deal with the food.
Similarly, it will help you to drink fewer fluids when eating. As you can imagine, fluids tend to dissolve the strength of the enzymes in charge of breaking down food. The weaker the enzymes the longer it will take to process the food.
As you can see, these are very easy-to-follow remedies for indigestion. Keep in mind that an indigestion remedy doesn’t have to be complicated and can be completely natural.
Herbal Supplements for Digestive Support
In addition to the remedies above, here are the top four herbs and supplements that can help to support healthy digestion.
Research on cranberries seems to indicate that the phytochemicals it contains can help improve the function of your digestive system.
A 2018 study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that cranberry can inhibit the growth of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in the stomach which can protect against intestinal inflammation and help promote better digestive health.
Milk Thistle has long been used as herbal medicine to support healthy digestive function. It helps to support the liver which is involved in the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
Also, helps support the gallbladder, bile ducts, and bile flow, which in turn helps the body with detoxification, digestion, and elimination. (3)
Apple Cider Vinegar
A big part of the digestion of protein happens as the result of the (HCL) hydrochloric acid in your stomach. If your acid levels are too low, the digestion of protein becomes harder for your body to handle.
Many people use apple cider vinegar as a digestive enzyme before eating high protein meals to improve their digestion. The idea is that the apple cider vinegar can help to increase the acid in your stomach, which will help your body create more of the enzyme called pepsin that breaks down protein.
Medicinal mushrooms, such as lion's mane, can help to improve the function of the part of the nervous system that controls digestion and gastro intestinal motility and helps to produce serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter.
Mushrooms can help strengthen immune system function, by acting as a prebiotic food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which supports a more healthy body. (4)
Causes of Indigestion
Here is a list of possible causes to the above symptoms.
Behavior/Lifestyle Indigestion Causes:
- Not chewing food thoroughly
- Poor Breathing patterns
- Lack of water consumption or dehydration
- Eating too much
- Eating too fast
- Swallowing excessive air when eating
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Cigarette smoking
- Stress and fatigue
- Eating too late at night
- Highly processed foods
- Food combining issues
- High fat foods
- High acid foods
- Citrus fruits or juice
- Tomatoes, tomato pastes and juices
- Aspirin and many other painkillers
- Estrogen and oral contraceptives
- Steroid medications
- Certain antibiotics
- Thyroid medicines
- Acid Reflux Drugs
Always check medication side effects for possible indigestion side effects.
- Hiatal Hernia
- Infections such as Helicobacter-pylori
- Insufficient stomach acid
- Excessive stomach acid
- Stomach infections
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Thyroid disease
- Crohn's disease
- Celiac disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Colon Cancer
- Stomach cancer (rare)
Pregnancy Indigestion Causes:
Many women experience indigestion during the middle and later parts of pregnancy
This is most likely caused by certain pregnancy related factors such as hormones that can relax the muscles of the digestive tract, and the growing uterus puts upward pressure on the stomach.
Some pre-existing indigestion problems can become worse due to pregnancy for the same reasons above.
5 Food Combining Rules For Better Digestion
The food combining concept is not difficult, you only need to understand these five main principles.
1. Don’t eat fruits with or after grains, cereals, etc.
When you first start food combining, you should start with the easiest and most effective step of the theory – Do not eat fruit or drink fruit juice with or after eating grains.
Fruit can often be eaten with fish, meat, eggs, seeds and nuts. But if you are eating grains such as pasta, bread, etc. then you should avoid fruit unless you eat if before you eat everything else.
An exception to this is dried fruit, which seems to be well tolerated by most people when eaten with grains.
2. Eat vegetables or salad along with carbohydrate or protein foods.
The soluble fiber and high water content in vegetables help the stomach and intestinal tract to mobilize and digest protein and carbohydrate foods.
3. Do not eat both proteins and carbohydrates in the same meal.
Proteins such as meat, fish, eggs, etc. and carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, potatoes, etc. when combined, can be difficult to digest together.
Because of this, they can sometimes sit in the stomach for too long which increases the chance of having indigestion, bloating, acid reflux, and constipation.
4. If protein and carbohydrates must be eaten in the same meal then eat the protein first.
This is due to the idea that protein can pass through the stomach faster than carbohydrates, thus you avoid fermentation of the food.
5. Drink little or no liquid with meals.
Drinking liquids with meals can dilute the stomach secretions that you need to digest food efficiently.
Start by limiting any beverages with your meals, then as your digestion improves drinking some water with meals should not really be an issue.
But, other beverages besides water, such as milk, fruit juice, alcohol, etc. can cause trouble.
Better digestion can help you feel better, have more energy, sleep at night and even drop some extra pounds.
Some simple changes in your eating habits, along with natural herbal supplements can help improve your digestion and help you get rid of any indigestion you may be experiencing as well as the problems associated with it.