Stuffing Yourself on Thanksgiving Without Bloating

By Michael A. Smith, MD

Here we are again, Thanksgiving. This is the time of year when everyone in my family becomes a glutton. We all make promises not to overindulge and to watch how much we eat, but we almost always fail.

As a doctor, my advice is pretty simple: don’t overeat. But I’m also practical. It’s hard not to overdo it with all of that amazing food staring you in the face. So eat, enjoy … and just do your best.

Of course, a little preventive damage control is always a good idea. For this reason, digestive enzymes can go a long way toward avoiding that “stuffed and bloated” feeling.

Yes, your body makes its own digestive enzymes, but they can become easily overwhelmed when you’re trying to digest 2,000 calories of food all at once. And when your body has trouble digesting food properly, it remains in your digestive tract and leads to the build-up of gas. This gas causes bloating discomfort, which can easily dampen your holiday cheer.

Digestive Enzymes Help Prevent Bloating

The three basic types of food we eat are carbohydrates, protein and fat. Your body produces digestive enzymes to break down each type into their individual “building blocks” for absorption. For carbohydrates, the building blocks are smaller sugars called disaccharides or monosaccharides. The building blocks of proteins are amino acids, and the building blocks of fats are individual fatty acids.

When purchasing a digestive enzyme product, you want to make sure that it provides all of the different enzymes you naturally produce to breakdown the three macromolecules. Here’s what you should look for (names that end in –ase are enzymes):

  • Amylase — for digesting starch
  • Lactase — for digesting dairy sugar
  • Cellulase — for digesting fiber
  • Protease — for digesting protein
  • Lipase — for digesting fat
Keep in mind, raw foods also provide enzymes that naturally break down food for proper absorption. So during the Thanksgiving feast, try to throw some raw veggies into the mix. Also consider using fresh cranberries instead of the ones that come in cans. Like papaya and pineapple? Throw them into the mix as well, as they contain key enzymes for digesting proteins.

The Difference Between Enzyme Dose & Activity

Another thing to look for on the label of a digestive enzyme product is the dose and the enzyme potency. The dose is simply how much of the enzyme you’re getting in the product, say like 50 mg lipase. But what’s more important is the potency, which is measured in FCC units (Food Chemical Codex). The FCC is the industry standard for measuring and labeling enzyme potency — which is how well it digests food.

Most digestive enzyme products use comparisons that are based on weight, as in milligrams. However, there isn’t a direct relationship between weight and units of activity. So be cautious about products that list enzymes only in milligrams. This doesn't tell you the actual activity level of the enzyme, which is pretty important.

The enzyme activity of products should be measured and reported in FCC or Food Chemical Codex. Although there aren’t actual optimal FCC numbers for enzymes, the following can be used as a guideline when purchasing them. In general the higher the number, the stronger the enzyme:

  • Amylase — 4,000 to 7,000 FCC
  • Lactase — 1,000 FCC
  • Cellulase — 1,600 FCC
  • Protease — 25,000 FCC
  • Lipase — 1,000 FCC
Note that the actual unit that’s measured is different for each enzyme. For instance, amylase is measured in dextrinizing units (DU), while cellulase is measured in cellulase units (CU). So once the enzyme is measured in its specific unit, it’s converted to an FCC number for easier comparisons between enzymes.

Can’t Stop Eating? Take Digestive Enzymes

As we’ve mentioned, the best thing to do is to just not eat so much. So there, we said it. But for those of us who just can’t help it and overindulge, take high quality digestive enzymes to help prevent the uncomfortable bloating that often comes with indulgent meals.

Also note that the best time to take digestive enzymes is around 15 minutes before you eat. This way the enzymes are present in your gut, ready and waiting to start digesting food.

We hope this helps you enjoy your Thanksgiving meal in comfort. Enjoy!


how to cook lamb said...

A simple act of saving and sharing food is the best way to fight hunger. It can begin at the household level, at the community level and of course at the regional and national levels. If every household were to ensure that no food is wasted, and then organise the left over to be delivered to the poor and needy, much of the hunger that we see around can be taken care of.

Life Extension said...

Great point! We agree with 100%.

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