CAUSES OF INDIGESTION
The causes of indigestion are just as variable as the symptoms. Some of the causes include:
- Type Of Food Eaten
Nearly everyone can name a food, or a list of foods that does not agree with them. As many as two out of five people believe that they have “allergies” to certain foods. In fact, fewer than 2 percent have true food allergies.
A food allergy occurs when the body's immune system reacts to otherwise harmless proteins in certain foods. While most food allergies are mild, in some cases they can cause anaphylactic shock, a serious, sometimes life-threatening reaction.
Food allergies affect mostly young children. With the exception of peanut allergy, the majority of children outgrow their allergic sensitivities. Symptoms of true food allergies include:
- Swelling or itching lips, tongue, and mouth
- Dermatitis or hives
- Runny and itchy nose
- Stomach pain or upset (gas, bloating, diarrhoea)
A "Food allergy" refers specifically to an immunological reaction that takes place in the body after ingesting a certain food.
Most of the medical literature and testing focuses on immunologically-mediated mechanisms, especially that of food allergy (IgE), and it is likely that the majority of food reactions involve other mechanisms such as:
- Hypoglycaemic reactions, especially to sugars and other refined carbohydrates
- Non-IgE histamine release sometimes called pseudo-allergic reactions, such as to food additives such as tartrazine
- Enzyme deficiencies such as are found in lactose intolerance, fructose intolerance, and sensitivity to dietary amines (deficiency of diamine oxidase)
- Inappropriate binding of dietary lectins to cell walls or extra cellular molecules, such as wheat lectins in rheumatoid arthritis
- Neurotoxic molecules, such as glutamate
- Pharmacological actions, such as from salicylate-rich food
A “Food sensitivity" includes all types of adverse reactions to food that fall under the indigestion and forms a different class of antibody called IgG (food intolerance). Food sensitivities/intolerances are real, and avoiding these foods can make a huge difference between being comfortable and uncomfortable after eating.
What most people actually suffer from are food intolerances which generally cause the majority of indigestion symptoms. Food and environmental sensitivities / intolerances have been associated with a wide range of medical conditions affecting virtually every part of the body. Even mood and behaviour, including hyperactivity disorders in children, are profoundly influenced by food sensitivities.
Symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to severe and may include: Asthma, Migraines, Eczema, Hives, Arthritis, Ear infections, Sinusitis, Colitis, Headaches, Acne, Psoriasis, Joint pain, Chronic nasal congestion and post nasal drip, Recurrent sinus or headaches, Fatigue after meals, Itchy throat and Irritation, Cough and Throat clearing all the time, Gas and bloating, Dizziness, Diarrhea, Depression, Itchy ears, Ringing in the ears, Nausea, Chronic muscle tension and pain, Itchy skin and / or unexplained Rashes.
It is commonly believed that our stomachs should be able to digest any number of different foods at the same time. However, digestion is governed by physiological chemistry. It is not only what we eat that is crucial to our health, but also what we digest and assimilate from it as well.
Digestive enzymes are secreted in very specific amounts and at very specific times for breaking down the foods we eat. Different food types require different digestive secretions. Carbohydrate foods require carbohydrate-splitting enzymes, whereas protein foods require protein splitting enzymes, etc. Carbohydrate foods (bread, rice or potatoes) and acid foods (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, pineapples, tomatoes or other sour fruits) eaten at the same meal can cause severe digestive cramping.
This is because the enzyme, ptyalin, an amylase (carbohydrate digesting enzyme) present in saliva that catalyzes the hydrolysis of starch into maltose and dextrin acts only in an alkaline medium; it is destroyed even by a mild acid present in fruits. Fruit acids not only prevent carbohydrate digestion, but they also cause fermentation, which produces gas in the stomach. Oxalic acid, for example, diluted to one part in 10,000 completely arrests the action of ptyalin. Hence a breakfast of pancakes laden with maple syrup and fruits in bound to cause tummy upsets for most folks.
PASTA WITHOUT TOMATO SAUCE?
Tomatoes should never be combined with starchy foods such as breads or pastas, as the various acids present in the tomato are very much opposed to the alkaline digestion of starches. This leads to inhibiting the enzyme activity in the body to digest (break down) the starches. The starches then tend to “sit” in the stomach for a long time, allowing fermentation to occur, which causes gas and heart burn.
Dr Percy Howe of Harvard Medical School states: "Many people who cannot eat oranges at a meal derive great benefit from eating them fifteen to thirty minutes before the meal".
Herbert Sheldon, author of 'The science and fine art of food and nutrition' reports: “I have put hundreds of patients, who have told me that they could not eat oranges or grapefruit, upon a diet of these fruits and they found that they could take them. Such people are in the habit of taking these foods with a breakfast of cereal, with cream and sugar, egg on toast, stewed prunes and coffee, or some similar meal."
An acid process (gastric digestion) and an alkaline process (salivary digestion) cannot be carried on at the same time in an ideal way in the stomach. Before long, they cannot proceed at all, as the rising acidity of the stomach soon completely stops carbohydrate digestion. The highest efficiency in digestion demands that we eat in such a way as to offer the least hindrance to the work of digestion.
TYPES OF FOODS CONSUMED
- Refined, processed and altered foods all stress and wear out the digestive organs and are usually nutrient deficient
- Excessive fats, especially unhealthy saturated fats from deep fried and fast foods slow digestion
- Over consumption of coffee, alcohol, cigarettes and spicy foods make the stomach over acidic
BAD EATING HABITS
Eating too quickly or not chewing food well leads to inadequate breakdown of food and incomplete mixing of the secretive juices and enzymes with the food, which can cause an uncomfortable after meal experience, if not ill.
Eating when stressed or when in a hurry – emotional disturbances such as anxiety, nervousness, impatience, fear, anger, resentment, depression, wearing effects of fatigue can play a large part in how food is digested.
Drinking lots of liquids with meals leads to dilution of the gastric juices and enzymes leading to inadequate digestion of the food.
Inadequate Secretion Of Stomach Acids
This can be caused by stress, diet, age, vitamin B12 deficiency, prescriptions medications such as Losec or antacids among other factors.
Various Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Can Cause Digestive Upsets
Presence Of Parasites, Bacteria (H. Pylori), Undiagnosed Infections, Toxins In The Body
Certain Diseases Can Cause Indigestion Too
These include gall bladder disease, pancreatitis, thyroid problems, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and various cancers.