How to Combat a Long-Term Food Baby, Indigestion, and Gas: A Review of Digestive Enzymes and Betaine HCL with Pepsin
Have you ever heard of the term food baby? If you have, you understand how challenging it is to “give birth” to a food baby and make it go away (sorry, I will always be entertained by toilet humor). If you haven’t ever had a food baby I am envious of you and have to ask why you have magic powers and I don’t! Even if you don’t regularly experience stomach discomfort, I think we all could improve our gut health here and there, especially when consuming huge meals that can leave us tired and out of commission for a few hours (think post-thanksgiving crash).
Anyway, one of the biggest issues I’ve had on my health journey (rather, excursion) is digestion. A couple years ago I’d simply look at a head of broccoli and watch my stomach swell up. Okay, just kidding, but seriously, almost everything I ate either gave me gas (much to my Dad’s disdain… I like to champion my burping powers, but he likes to think I’m on the verge of throwing up. Thanks Dad!), a bloated stomach, and a lot of discomfort. Potatoes, bananas, oranges, beans of any kind, apples, broccoli, and many more foods would cause a trigger for my stomach. Even more troubling, gut health is certainly linked to mental health, and I know that every time I’d watch my stomach balloon up I’d start feeling disgruntled and/or anxious.
So, to figure out how to improve our digestive health I’m going to share with you two supplements that have helped me tackle my indigestion issues: digestive enzymes and Betaine HCL.
While the autoimmune protocol is speeding up my gut’s healing process, I still need some help digesting food here and there. My stomach lining is still healing considering I treated it horribly up until the past few months. To get some extra assistance I take a miracle product called digestive enzymes (see image below) :-) I could not swear by this supplement more. I take one to two capsules (depending on the serving size) before each meal and I have to say that my stomach is flatter for it.
While there are other variables to take into consideration (such as food pairings i.e. am I eating fruit with a hard-to-digest meal? Am I eating a lot of starchy foods with meat?, the type of foods I eat (my diet right now is super clean and I know that if I were to reintroduce some foods back into my diet my stomach would fight me on it), what time I eat, how much water I drink before, during, and after each meal, etc.) I know that I have made a ton of progress with this endeavor because my stomach has been super flat lately and I rarely get indigestion. Yay! Happy Yoolie :-)
As far as what brand I use, I use Source Naturals 99% of the time, but one time I forgot to order them on Amazon on time and ended up using the Vitamin Shoppe store brand. Both seem to do the trick, but I just like Source Naturals better as far as quality and price. Click on this link to see what specific ingredients are used, but essentially this lovely product helps you break down protein, fat, carbs, fiber, and milk lactase. The Vitamin Shoppe brand helps digest gluten, so perhaps looking into different brands of enzymes would be beneficial for all you gluten eaters out there ;-) As always, everyone is different, so something that works for me may not work for you! Do your research first before buying any supplement.
Now onto Betaine HCL with pepsin. Stomach acid is so important in the digestion process, especially for those of us who have digestion issues. A lot of times, the symptoms of low stomach acid go undiagnosed or are wrongly diagnosed as having TOO much stomach acid. Needless to say, it’s important to be really attuned to our bodies to help figure out whether we might need to take something to increase our stomach acid. Here is a list of symptoms of low stomach acid:
Of course, I have had most of these symptoms (sorry if you didn’t want to know about my bathroom habits, but it’s a part of the process), and since taking Betaine *with pepsin* most of them have gotten better. I take one capsule with each meal to help with digestion and gas, but some people may need more or less depending on what your acid levels are. You will know when you’ve taken too much though. For example, this week I decided to take four capsules a day and was met with acid reflux and a bit of a burn in my throat. I cut back to one with each meal and the reflux disappeared, poof!
Please take a look at this article to give you more information on how to effectively navigate taking Betaine HCL. The author offers up the following rules when taking this supplement: do not use Betaine HCL when you’re not supposed to (self-explanatory, but click the link to find out what these reasons are), make sure your Betaine has pepsin, take Betaine with the right foods, and make sure your dosage is correct. Again, the article will explain to you the how and why behind each suggestion :-)
So, this concludes my very quick crash course on improving digestion. These are two supplements that I take daily and I have to say I have been feeling amazing lately. Like the best I have felt in my entire life, which is huge considering the amount of stress and deadlines I have looming over my head (be gone thesis, be gone I say!!!). Of course my diet has played a huge role (all hail the autoimmune protocol!), but I still suggest looking into these supplements regardless of where you are at in your healthcare journey.
Of course, there are more homeopathic remedies that I implement as well: peppermint oil, ginger tea, and kombucha tea. I’ll have to write a separate post on these bad boys, but nothing hits the spot like some warm water with peppermint oil in it. Yum!
Do any of you have remedies for indigestion that you swear by? Do any of you have questions for me? Leave me a comment below!
Until next time!
Reasoner, J. (2013, October 7). 4 Common Betaine HCl Mistakes. Retrieved March 4, 2015, from http://scdlifestyle.com/2013/10/4-common-betaine-hcl-mistakes/