Friday, August 26, 2011

Why You Need Digestive Enzymes

Sixty to seventy million people in the U.S. are affected by digestive disorders each year, adding to higher medical costs. Over the counter and prescription digestive aids are big sellers for those seeking relief from stomach bloating and upset, gas and irregular bowel activity (from constipation to diarrhea).

Everyone has experienced digestive disorders at some time or another. It's typically a sign that food is not being properly digested. And if food isn't digested, you don't get the nutrients the food is supposed to provide.

A primary contributor to the digestive problems is the quality and type of food being eaten. Eating too much meat, cooked and processed foods, and artificial ingredients puts a burden on your digestive system. Maybe you've already tried diet changes to deal with less-than-optimal digestion. You eat plenty of fiber, drink enough water, and consume lots of fresh, raw vegetables. Yet something still isn't working as well as it can.

At the heart of the problem is a lack of adequate digestive enzymes, which the body normally provides during the digestive process to break down food into material that nourishes and rebuilds the body. Digestive enzymes are secreted by the body during the digestive process starting in the mouth by the salivary glands, in the stomach secreted by cells lining the stomach, in the pancreatic juice secreted by the pancreas, and in secretions by the small and large intestine.

A number of situations either limit or deplete our enzyme supply:
  1. Not chewing your food enough. Too often food is gulped down with a few bites not allowing enzymes in saliva to mix with the food. Digestion starts in the mouth. Chew consciously by counting the bites until your food is well mashed before you swallow and take another bite.
  2. Eating too many cooked and processed foods. Live-enzymes naturally occur in raw and unprocessed food. Once food is cooked or heated during processing, the enzymes are "killed." "Dead" food requires the body to provide more of its enzymes to digest the food.
  3. Chewing gum. When you chew gum, you're tricking your body into preparing to digest food. Your brain thinks you're eating food so it sends signals to your stomach, pancreas, and other digestive organs to get them ready for the digestive process. Enzymes are needlessly wasted in the process.
The typical processed and cooked food diet of most people takes a toll on the system and its ability to produce enzymes. Fact is, by the time most reach forty years old, your enzyme supply is hindered and digestive issues may arise. Consider taking supplemental enzymes with each meal, particularly cooked meals.

What to look for in a digestive enzyme supplement:
  • Provides a mixture of enzymes for the breakdown of foods (at a minimum: lipase for fats, amylase for carbohydrates, and protease for proteins).
  • Natural ingredients, nothing artificial.
  • Works with all pH levels (poor quality enzymes can be destroyed by the acid in the stomach).
  • Comes in capsule form (I prefer the vegan type made from cellulose: hypromellose).
Taking digestive enzymes may benefit conditions such as food allergies, yeast infections, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. In addition to digestion, enzymes are vital to life and required for the following body processes: 

  • Energy production
  • Absorption of oxygen
  • Fighting infections and healing wounds
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Getting nutrients into your cells
  • Carrying away toxic wastes
  • Breaking down fats in your blood, regulating cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Dissolving blood clots
  • Proper hormone regulation
  • Slowing the aging process
I have been taking enzymes for over 20 years. I take them with every cooked meal. Total Systemic Enzyme from Nutranomics is a quality enzyme product I've taken. Nutranomics does not use any fillers in their product so you get more product in each capsule.

What digestive complaints have you been living with that might be relieved by taking enzymes? Please leave a comment.