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Digestive Enzymes

I have intestinal adhesions from surgery, hi fiber foods send me to the ER with intense pain and blockage, would digestive enzymes help, and if so what kind? I can not continue to live on protein and soft white foods, I need a healthier diet that won’t cause me pain and blockage.

Answer:

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that digestive enzymes help with adhesions, but there are only a few studies that suggest enzymes are of any benefit specifically for adhesions. Personally I am a strong believer that digestive enzymes can be of benefit in wound healing, and while recovering from surgery. Enzymes have been shown to be very effective in reducing inflammation and improving scar tissue. One enzyme I would recommend consuming is Bromelain, which is found in Pineapple. Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme which means it breaks down protein, so will help with the digestion of protein in your diet, it has been shown to help reduce post operative swelling and also useful for arthritis. If you are already following a low residue diet, you may well have a juicer to process any fruits and vegetables. I would suggest you start off making some pineapple juice using fresh pineapple (do not use commercially made juice as this has lost most of its benefits). Start by making a very small amount of the juice and see how well you can tolerate it. Drink it on its own, not mixed with anything else and over time you can increase the amount you consume. Two things to be aware of to maximise the benefit of taking bromelain: 1- For digestive benefit – drink the juice at the same time as a meal, this will allow the enzymes to assist breakdown of protein you have consumed. 2- For anti-inflammatory benefit – drink on its own away from any meal, this gives the enzymes a better chance of getting into your bloodstream, where they can exert their anti-inflammatory effects. Papaya also contains an proteolytic enzyme called Papain, which has similar benefits although not as well studied as Bromelain. Proteolytic enzymes are just one type of enzyme there are others which digest carbohydrates and fats. There are commercially available enzyme products that contain pure Bromelain, or combinations of many different enzymes. I would try using the juice first and if you find it of benefit, and want to try something else, then you may wish to discuss using the supplement form with your Doctor. Be aware that Bromelain, thins your blood so if you are taking any kind of blood thinning medication such as warfarin you should also discuss this with your doctor. I would also recommend drinking camomile tea which also has anti-inflammatory soothing effect on the digestive system and may help with some of your symptoms.

A Catch 22

I have read everywhere that eating oats and beans is a great thing, as they have a lot of fiber among other benefits. But, every time I try to incorporate beans or oatmeal into my diet, I get so constipated and give up about 5 days into it. I drink a lot of water and exercise. Why could this be happening? Is it something I should try to get through in hopes that my body will adapt, or just accept that these foods are not for me?

Answer:

Hi, Thanks for your question. As you stated oats and beans do have a number of health benefits including being rich in fiber. That being said these foods may not agree with you for a reason, you may possibly have an intolerance or one or both of these foods. Generally it is unusual to get constipation from fiber rich foods, as fiber helps alleviate that symptom but I don’t know how you are preparing your foods or in what quantities your are consuming them. I certainly wouldn’t recommend, if you are experiencing discomfort, that you keep eating them in the hopes that your body will adapt. Have you tried just introducing one of these items into your diet. For example just add oats to your diet for a couple of weeks and see if you get the same symptoms, or just add beans to your diet. That way you can identify if its is just one or both that cause a problem for you. There are many other foods that are rich in fiber, I would not worry about specifically trying to consume these two items as there are many other grains and vegetables that can achieve the same thing.

My gastrointestinal system has not been the healthiest since 2009

My gastrointestinal system has not been the healthiest since 2009 when I went through a bout of depression and stopped eating for about a year, was incarcerated for about 26 months as well and never get a proper appetite back. My present diet does not consist of a healthy balance of the major food groups. What suggestions can you offer to help get me back into a more healthy diet and system?

Answer:

I think the most important thing is to focus on helping improve your digestive system recover from the period of stress you experienced. Digestive symptoms are not uncommon in people undergoing stressful times. Introducing some beneficial foods to your diet would be my first recommendation. Probiotic live yoghurt will introduce beneficial bacteria, which can help normalise the balance of good and bad bacteria in your system. I would suggest trying to consume probiotic yoghurt a few times a week. They are readily available from your supermarket. I would suggest looking for natural product, that is free from artificial sweeteners, as some yoghurt products unfortunately contain this. Secondly to help stimulate your appetite consider trying herbal teas. Camomile tea has been shon to have a soothing effect both in term of relaxation and sleep, but also an anti-inflammatory effect on the digestive system. Dandelion, Spearmint, Burdock, Peppermint teas also help stimulate appetite and calm upset stomachs. Sliced ginger root can be added to tea or used as a seasoning and helps sooth upset stomachs. Artichoke is a vegetable your should consider adding to your diet, consuming it helps stimulate the production of bile acids, which are involved in digestion. Additionally it helps protect the liver due to anti-oxidants cynarin and silymarin. Other things to consider is what and when you eat. Try to eat regularly making sure you eat three times a day and preferably at the same time for each meal, each day. Set your self a goal to eat at 7am,12pm and 6pm each day or whatever fits your schedule. Avoid skipping or missing meals, even if you are not hungry, try to eat a small snack, or even just a glass of milk or a piece of fruit at each meal time. The reason for this is so that your body starts getting used to eating at the same time each day. If you keep this up over time you will find your appetite will return as your body will be expecting food at these times.

Paralyzed stomach, constipation, liquid diet

Diagnosed with gastroparesis & nonulcer dyspepsia with impaired accommodation & compliance” & on a temporary all LIQUID low-fat low-fiber diet for slow motility (barely moving) for a week now, with no relief. Past eating disorder nutritionists have said anorexics must eat enough despite symptoms to push thru & regulate bowel function. Been eating well for years, but symptoms persist, bloating acute now. Traditional MD & GI aren’t educated in best dietary approach. Which sounds right in this case? Suggestions? Good luck answering this, lol.

Answer:

Thanks for your question! From your description you are in a difficult situation. My view is that at this stage you should continue with your doctors advice and stay on the liquid low fat, low fiber diet. However I believe that whilst following these types of diets they will help reduce symptoms, but do little to combat the underlying causes. There can be a number of factors at play, inflammation, bacterial imbalance, irritation and sensitivity from excess stomach acid. All of these issues need to be addressed. I have found the following foods to be particularly helpful in people with problems relating to the digestive system. – Fresh ginger – (Zingiber officinale) has been used to treat a number of medical conditions, including those that affect the digestive tract. It has anti-inflammatory properties and recent studies have shown that ginger stimulated gastric emptying in patients with functional dyspepsia. I would suggest buying some fresh ginger root from your local supermarket and finely grate a small amount of ginger into your food. Alternatively you can cut a few thin slices and add it to cup of herbal tea. Adding it to a cup of camomile tea can help further sooth your stomach as camomile also contains natural anti-inflammatory which have been shown to heal the digestive system. – Pro-biotic yoghurt – It is well documented that symptoms of dyspepsia may be linked to the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. Yoghurt that contains live bacteria has been shown to benefit people with digestive disorders. Animal studies demonstrated that probiotic treatment is effective in reducing H. pylori-associated gastric inflammation. Look for a natural live yoghurt that is free from additives and artificial sweeteners. – Pineapple- in situations where digestive functions are compromised, the production of digestive enzymes can be reduced. Pineapple is natural source of proteolytic enzymes (protein-digesting), consuming this with meals can help improve digestion. Although I would say that in some cases it can lead to excess gas, especially if consumed with dairy products, so would eat the fruit away from some foods. Additionally pineapple does contain fiber, so this is something that you may need to hold off on until you have completed the temporary liquid diet your doctor has recommended. Initially you can blend the pineapple into a smoothie which will make it slightly easier to process, but will still allow you to introduce some fiber into your diet. I would suggest if you would like to try any of the above not to introduce them all at the same time, but to try them individually and then assess how your body responds. By doing it one at a time, you can identify what works and what doesn’t and over time find which works best for you.

Probiotics & Digestive Enzymes

I have a few digestive issues; one being that I am lactose intolerant. I take a probiotic but haven’t seen much luck since I started taking it 3 months ago. Should I be taking it once a day or more than that? Also, I was considering adding a digestive enzyme as well. Should I be taking them together? How many do I take?

Answer:

Firstly you may want to check the ingredients of your probiotic, some probiotics contain lactose, which could trigger your symptoms. If it does, there are lactose free probiotics available. Digestive enzymes can be a useful option, Lactase is the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose and you may want to investigate trying it. It can be purchased as drops and can then be added to milk which has to be left for 24 hours for the enzyme to do its work. Of course this is not suitable for other solid dairy products such as cheese for example. A lactase supplement is also available which can be eaten at the same time. The benefits that people find from them is quite variable. You may also want to look at lactose free milk alternatives such as Rice milk, and there are now some lactose free cheese products available.