Indigestion affects millions of people every day. For some, eating fatty foods can bring on heartburn. For others, simple carbohydrates (like bread and pasta) may cause gas and bloating. And for other individuals, spicy foods can cause them grief. Although what we eat greatly influences the frequency and severity of indigestion, this discomfort could be related to an underlying problem – poor digestive enzyme activity.
Situations such as illness, gall bladder removal, overuse of antacids, and normal aging can contribute to insufficient secretion of stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes, and bile, and can adversely affect digestive enzyme activity and lead to occasional heartburn, gas, bloating, and other forms of gastrointestinal discomfort.* Maldigestion can lead to digestive problems and poor absorption of nutrients, resulting in vitamin deficiencies (particularly fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K). Food allergies can develop when inadequately digested proteins are absorbed through the gut. As large proteins are absorbed intact, the body might recognize them as foreign and create antibodies to them, resulting in an allergic response to the food.
An individual who has frequent indigestion should make sure to have adequate enzyme support. Hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach does several positive things. It assists protein digestion by activating pepsinogen to pepsin, it renders the stomach sterile against ingested pathogens, it inhibits undesirable overgrowth in the small intestine, and it encourages the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes.* Hydrochloric acid also facilitates the absorption of a number of nutrients, including folate, vitamin B12, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, iron, and some forms of calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Numerous studies have shown hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach declines with advancing age.