Paavo Airola - Let's Live - December 1976Index

Digestive Problems - Part Two

Simple, Common-Sense Solutions To Indigestion, Flatulence, And Gas!

Gallbladder and Indigestion

An under-functioning gallbladder can often be a major cause of indigestion, flatulence, gas, and constipation. The gallbladder produces bile, which is necessary for the digestion of fats. Even fat-soluble or fat-containing vitamins such as E, A, D, and K, cannot be properly utilized if there isn't enough fat in the diet or the bile to digest them. The usual medical approach of putting gallbladder patients on a fat-free diet does not solve the problem - it actually makes it worse. Without fat, oil-soluble vitamins cannot be utilized. This can be crucial, especially in regard to vitamin K, which, among other things, regulates your intestinal flora, which, in turn, is to a large degree responsible for proper utilization of nutrients from the food you eat.

If your digestive problems, such as excessive gas, flatulence, a feeling of fullness, nausea, constipation, clay-colored stools, edema of the ankles, and halitosis, are caused by a chronically under-functioning gallbladder, there are many things you can do to stimulate the production and flow of the bile and improve digestion, assimilation, and elimination:

Allergies, Indigestion, and Gas

A great many cases of digestive problems and gas are caused by allergies, although a few people, and even few doctors, recognize that.

Recently, a young man of 26, very pale and malnourished looking, came to see me. To my first question, why did he come to see me, he replied: "I have a bad stomach. In fact, practically everything I eat gives me problems. I've been suffering from stomach pain, gas, and bad digestion since I was sixteen, and have seen dozens of doctors during the last ten years. I've tried all kinds of medication, enzymes, vitamins, and diets, but nothing seems to help. I have constant cramps, pains, gas, and intermittent diarrhea and constipation - no matter what I eat." After careful questioning and listening to his subjective reactions as to when and how he felt discomfort, what foods caused the most trouble, etc., I was able to tell him that there was nothing wrong with his stomach or digestion, but that his problem was a severe case of allergy. He was allergic to about 95% of all available foods! The body of an allergic person treats allergens (the foods or substances to which it is allergic) as poisons, no matter how good or healthful these foods may be to other people. It rejects them and refuses to consider them as useful foods - thus the typical allergic rejection responses in the form of pain, cramps, gas, belching, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.

The solution for digestive problems caused by allergies is as simple as it is difficult to implement: all allergens must be eliminated from the diet for a certain period, which must often extend for years, to give the body time to "forget" about them. Fasting is an excellent way to begin the treatment. Prolonged juice fasting, or repeated short fasts, will eventually result in better tolerance of previous allergens. After juice fasting, the patient can try a mono diet - one food, which he knows he tolerates well, at a time. Then he can add one new food each week, testing it for a week. If the body's reaction is good, this food is kept in the diet and another new food is added - if the reaction is bad, that food should be discarded and a new food tried. This way all real allergens can eventually be eliminated from the diet.

The most common allergens are: wheat in all forms, citrus fruits, milk and cheese, corn, chocolate, and white potatoes. It is amazing how many people insist on eating wheat and milk, although they have trouble digesting them. Remember: leave all real or suspected allergens out of your diet forever, if need be. There are hundreds of foods available for eating today, so there is no sense in eating anything that does not agree with you. Also, an increasing number of people today are allergic to the growing number of food additives and environmental chemicals. The best solution to this is to eat natural, untreated foods - unchemicalized, untampered with, preferably organically grown. Many health food stores now sell such foods. If your health food store does not carry organic produce, perhaps you will have to grow it yourself.

Brewer's Yeast and Gas

These who have read my books, heard my lectures, or seen my TV appearances and/or followed my writings in Let's LIVE, know that one of the supplements I highly recommend is brewer's yeast. In fact, it was suggested by several health food stores that not only am I responsible for a national shortage of brewer's yeast, but also for its price doubling in the last year. (Needless to say, I do not sell brewer's yeast, nor am I associated with the health food industry in any way.)

But, I receive many letters from those who follow my advice and incorporate yeast into their dietary routine, complaining that it gives them gas! No question about it: Brewer's yeast is a gassy food, if used incorrectly. But, if you follow some simple rules, brewer's yeast need not cause any digestive problems.

If brewer's yeast gives you gas, here are a few foolproof rules which, if followed literally, will eliminate this problem:

  1. Take brewer's yeast only on an empty stomach, never with meals, One hour before a meal, three hours after a meal, or just before retiring at night are the best times.
  2. Don't take more than 1 tbsp. of yeast powder, or 5 tablets at a time. You may take yeast 2 or 3 times a day, however.
  3. Mix brewer's yeast powder or flakes with some sour fruit juice. Best juices are fresh grapefruit, pineapple, lemon, or lime. One tablespoonful of brewer's yeast to one-half glass of juice, taken one hour before meals, is the ideal. If fresh juices are not available, canned juices may be substituted; or you can use apple-cider vinegar: 1 tbsp. vinegar per glass of water.
  4. Don't drink the mixture, but eat it with a spoon, or take small swallows and "chew", so it will be salivated properly.

  5. If you are over 50, it is very likely that your own hydrochloric acid secretion is decreased. Brewer's yeast, being a high protein food (up to 50% protein!), needs lots of hydrochloric acid for effective and gas-free digestion. If, after observing the 4 above-mentioned rules, you are still troubled with gas, you'll know that the hydrochloric acid level in your stomach is insufficient. In that case, take one or two, tablets of Betaine Hydrochloric acid with one-half glass of water immediately after taking yeast. Hydrochloric acid tablets, as well as brewer's yeast, are sold in every health food store.

Other Specifics for Indigestion and Gas

To improve digestion of food and assimilation of nutrients, as well as prevent flatulence and gas, here are a few other specific approaches proven effective by clinical studies, observation, and experience:

In persistent and chronic digestive problems, repeated short juice fasts can help by giving the digestive organs time and opportunity to rest and regenerate. Fasting will also cleanse the bowels and colon thoroughly, removing the masses of impacted hardened feces and mucus accumulation which interfere with proper assimilation as well as elimination. Juice fasting, up to 10 days, can be done on your own, without supervision, if you follow meticulously my instructions on fasting. 16

Keep in mind that I do not recommend fasting on water only, especially without enemas. Juice fasting is far superior therapeutically to water fasting, causes less stress on the system, and is now recommended by all European, and a growing number of American, biologically oriented doctors. Unfortunately, some American doctors are so behind times that they still recommend the less effective, and sometimes harmful, water fast without enemas.

On occasion, every doctor has encountered a patient whose digestive system is so fouled up and digestive capacity so impaired, that he doesn't seem to be able to digest any kind of food at all. I have often heard patients say, "no matter what I eat, everything turns into gas!" Such persons should let their digestive system rest for a few days, drinking nothing but juices, especially papaya, lemon, and pineapple juices, diluted with water, take a daily cleansing enema, then start gradually introducing some solid foods. I have found that finely shredded raw apple mixed with raw honey, and eaten slowly with raw goat's milk seems to be well digested even by those who are unable to digest any other kind of food.

Hyperacidity Myth

Through persistent TV, radio, and press commercials, the American public is brainwashed to believe that most stomach distress, indigestion, and. gas is caused by excessive stomach acid. Therefore, Americans gulp antacid pills at the first sign of any stomach distress - millions of dollars worth per year! Although every doctor may encounter a few cases of hyperacidity, especially among those with a predisposition for gastric ulcers, they are the exception rather than the rule. Not too much acid, but too little acid is the cause of most cases of indigestion!

It is natural and healthy for the stomach to be acid. The acid condition in the digestive tract is caused by hydrochloric acid abbreviated (HCl) which is manufactured by the body and poured into the stomach. Young, healthy people, as a rule, have a plentiful supply of HCl, but many older people suffer from deficiencies of this valuable natural body acid. This deficiency is caused by many contributing factors, such as dietary D-vitamin deficiencies, wrong eating habits, (such as eating salad before protein food, for example); eating too fast; eating when not hungry; lack of exercise; tension, emotional stresses, worries; etc. And without sufficient HCl in the digestive tract, the digestion of food and assimilation of nutrients is almost impossible, especially digestion of protein foods, milk, brewer's yeast, and assimilation of such important minerals as calcium and iron.

If you suffer from constant bloating, indigestion, and gas, especially a couple of hours after a meal, and if you can eliminate all the other possible causes of your problem, mentioned earlier in this article, check your HCl level - the answer to your problem may be hypoacidity (low acidity). To test yourself to find if you need HCl supplementation, take 1 tablet of HCl, (such as Betaine Hydrochloric Acid - your health food store will have it) with 1/2 glass of water after every protein-rich meal. If you feel a burning sensation in your stomach area, you do not need HCl. But, the majority of those over 40 would probably find that their digestion will improve and gas problems disappear. If you feel an improvement, but not a complete correction of the indigestive distress, double your dose of HCl: you may need 2 tablets after each larger protein-rich meal. By trying and experimenting, you can find out for yourself if you need supplementary HCl and how much - it is much easier, safer, and less expensive than medical tests for HCl levels, which often include stomach pumping.

If your acid deficiency is only slight, it may be remedied just by sipping apple cider vinegar (1 - 2 tsp. in a glass of water) with meals.

Mexican Secrets of Good Digestion

Those who are familiar with native Mexican cuisine, know that Mexicans use excessively (even this superlative is an understatement!) three special digestion-promoting foods in their diets: papaya, lime, and chili (cayenne pepper). All three are powerful stimulants of digestive processes and can improve digestion for most people, if used regularly.

Papaya contains the enzyme papain which is useful in aiding protein digestion. (Papain is one of the few food enzymes that is useful in man's metabolism). Papain helps break down protein into amino acids, and makes them easily assimilable. Papaya is also an excellent health food, rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C. It is a remarkably good cleansing food and has been used with success therapeutically in the treatment of such conditions as arthritis, obesity, kidney diseases, and of course, digestive disorders.

Lime is served in all Mexican restaurants the way a glass of ice water is served in the United States. Mexicans squeeze it on any conceivable food or drink they consume. Lime helps create an acid condition in the digestive tract and improves the digestion and assimilation of foods. Lime is also considered to be one of the best natural remedies for colds, skin diseases, stomach disorder, dysentery ("turista") or for disinfection and healing of fresh wounds and scratches. It even cures the itching if squeezed fresh on mosquito bites! Lime juice also stimulates both liver and kidney activity, dissolves uric acid crystals in the tissues, and is rich in enzymes and Vitamin C. It is used therapeutically to treat asthma, liver problems, scurvy, fevers, and digestive disorders.

Chili is consumed in Mexico to the extent that it has to be seen to be believed! As with lime juice, chili powder or sauce (salsa) is sprinkled on virtually everything, including oranges, apples, mangoes, and watermelon. It is also added to practically every cooked food. The best chili from the point of improving digestion, is red cayenne, although Mexicans use a great variety of stronger chilis. While spices commonly used by Americans, such as mustard and black and white pepper, are definitely harmful, toxic, and irritating to the delicate linings of the stomach and bowels, cayenne pepper or chili is actually beneficial and soothing. It has many wonderful medicinal properties in addition to stimulating the output of digestive juices and improving digestion. Cayenne improves circulation; it has a stimulating action on the kidneys, spleen, and pancreas; and is considered to be a powerful general tonic. Chilis are also extremely rich in minerals, enzymes, and vitamins, especially vitamin C. No wonder that if you ask an average Mexican why he is so healthy, he will invariably answer "I eat lots of chili!". Cayenne pepper is now sold in capsule form in most health food stores and can be taken even by those who do not like "hot" foods.

Inclusion of these three powerful Mexican digestion-promoting foods in your daily diet may do a great deal towards eliminating some, if not most, of your digestive problems.

Specific Herbs to Help Digestion

There are several herbs that have been used in folk medicine to treat digestive disorders. In addition to those already mentioned, such as garlic, cayenne pepper, and camomile, here are a few more:

The best way to make herb teas is to pour boiling water over 1 tsp. of dried herbs (or the contents of 2 capsules) and steep for 5-10 minutes. Tea can be sweetened with honey, and should be drunk comfortably warm. Never drink iced tea. Ice cold drinks or foods interfere with digestive processes and only contribute to digestive problems.


Indigestion is not just a minor discomfort. It is a nationwide epidemic and a very serious medical problem. Between 13 and 18 million Americans suffer from complex digestive disorders that often cripple and sometimes even kill. Dr. Edward M. Rosenthal, the president of the National Foundation for Ileitis and Colitis, says that "the bellyache is the main cause of hospitalization in America." Digestive disorders are not always just "simple" flatulence or gas, but can be precursors of such serious conditions as stomach ulcers, hepatitis, gallstones, cirrhosis of the liver, ileitis, ailments of the pancreas, and cancer of the colon and rectum. Practicing physicians have reported to me that the overwhelming majority of the patients visiting their offices are those complaining of digestive problems and gas.

As this article shows, most, if not all, digestive problems are of our own making. We violate most rules of healthful eating and living, with the result that our digestive, assimilative, and eliminative systems rebel, causing indigestion, intestinal putrefaction, gas, and other digestive disorders.

The solutions offered in this article are simple, common-sense approaches aimed not at the treatment of symptoms, but at the elimination of the underlying causes of the problem. In a nutshell, here are the ten rules of trouble-free digestion, good elimination, and gas-free eating:

  1. Do not overeat! Systematic undereating is the best advice I can give to improve digestion and assimilation of foods.
  2. Avoid constipation, one of the main causes of intestinal putrefaction and gas. If this is your problem, follow my corrective program for constipation, which is guaranteed to normalize your bowel movements if followed conscientiously. 10
  3. Eat your salad with or after protein dish, not before.
  4. Avoid mixing too many foods in the same meal.
  5. Eat slowly, chew well, and eat only when hungry.
  6. Eat several small meals in preference to a few large ones.
  7. If your digestive problem is caused by an underactive gallbladder, take steps to correct it by the approaches suggested in this article.
  8. Make sure your body produces enough digestive acids and enzymes - if not, take supplementary enzymes.
  9. If your digestive problems are caused by allergies to foods, eliminate all allergens from your diet, and gradually reintroduce one food at a time.
  10. Take vitamins, supplements, herbs, and other specifics recommended in this article.

Following the dietary rules, using suggested eating precautions, and taking specific vitamins, enzymes, herbs, and food supplements recommended in this article will help improve your digestion of food, assimilation of nutrients, prevent, intestinal putrefaction and constipation and eliminate digestive distress, flatulence, and gas. Although 90% of all Americans seem to suffer from digestive problems, this is one ailment that can be completely eliminated if a few common-sense rules and approaches, as suggested in this article, are not only read, contemplated, given the nod of approval, and then conveniently forgotten, but actually applied, put to use, and incorporated into a daily eating and living routine.


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