Gut Reaction – what’s causing discomfort?

If you are suffering from bloating, belching, indigestion, heartburn, abdominal pain, IBS or any other digestive complaint, or even other symptoms but after meals, you might be wondering if there’s something you are eating that you are intolerant or allergic to.

Actually, they are not the only options and you can find out what’s going on with a few simple experiments.

Digestive enzymes

Your body produces 10 litres of digestive juices containing enzymes and acids and other secretions that break down food. There are different enzymes and secretions for different foods. For example, protein needs stomach acid then a sequence of protein splitting enzymes such as pepsin, protease and so on. Fat, on the other hand, needs lipase and bile, made in the liver. Milk needs lactase. Greens need glucosidase while beans needs galactosidase, as do cruciferous veg like broccoli.

So, the first ‘test’, especially if your symptoms include bloating and indigestion straight after certain meals, is to take a digestive enzyme supplement containing all these. If the problem goes away you know your problem is that your body is not producing enough of the right enzymes for certain food groups. Knowing, this you’ll be able to work out which foods are difficult for you by trial and error.

The reason for the bloating is that if you don’t digest foods completely bacteria in your gut will ‘eat’ it and produce gas.

Low stomach acid

Some people, especially later in life, don’t make enough stomach acid and can end up with indigestion, bloating and, ironically, heartburn. The heartburn is caused by very small amounts of stomach acid getting through the shut-off valve at the top of the stomach into the oesophagus leading to the throat. Without enough stomach acid, food isn’t properly digested however nor are harmful bacteria killed off. So, the right balance of bacteria in the gut gets disrupted. The net result can be more ‘upward’ gas, leading to belching and heartburn caused by acid leaking.

If a person under-produces stomach acid this can be supplemented as betaine hydrochloride. I explain how to do this in my report on GastroEnterological Reflux Disorder (GERD) and Acid Reflux Relief.

Dysbiosis – imbalanced bacteria

This then highlights the next ‘test’. You may have an imbalance of the right bacteria in the gut, called dysbiosis. While there are stool tests which can measure what’s going on, available through nutritional therapists, I often recommend two weeks to a month taking a good probiotic supplement every day. This needs to contain both Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bifidobacteria, and at least 1 to 5 billion viable organisms per dose.

If this solves your problem all well and good, but there are some gut ‘infections’ that need a different approach. An example of this is infection with Helicobacter pylori, the organism that causes most stomach ulcers. Read my report on stomach ulcers if this is your problem.

Another example here would be some kind of food poisoning in which case you may need antibiotics if it doesn’t resolve quickly. I also recommend taking probiotics to restore healthy gut bacteria.

My digestive support supplement provides both a full array of digestive enzymes and probiotics, plus glutamine powder, which nourishes the cells that line the gut.

Allergy or Intolerance?

If you’ve ruled out indigestion and dysbiosis the next most likely contributor to your digestive problems is a food allergy

Want to keep reading? Members have full access...

Join Today!


First month free

Then £7.99 per month & free cancellation at any time

FREE health check

Find out your health score & see how healthy you are

Personal Health Plan

Detailed report, analysis & tailored action plan

Free Vitamin D3

With your first purchase at HOLFORDirect (suitable for vegans)

Save money

20% off all Patrick Holford supplements & events plus free delivery over £30

Exclusive Health support

Ask Patrick your questions, access to Low GL recipes & research updates