Digestive enzymes are complex biomolecules that are produced in the small intestine and pancreas. Their primary purpose is to break down the food we eat. Specifically, they break down proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and other compounds into smaller nutrients that our body can absorb and use for its various life-sustaining functions.
So, how are digestive enzymes important to our health?
Here is the fact: our digestive system cannot absorb the food we eat as is. Instead, it can only absorb small food particles. Therefore, the big food particles—the fats, carbohydrates, and proteins—we eat must be converted to tiny cholesterol and fatty acids, simple sugars, and amino acids. It’s these small food elements that our body can absorb. And this is where digestive enzymes come into play as they catalyze this important conversion.
Why take the digestive enzymes supplements when your body can make its own?
The answer is, depending on several factors, your body might not be able to produce enough enzymes needed for proper digestion.
Here are some factors that compromise our digestive system.
- Stress. Chronic stress increases your adrenaline that in turn affects your body’s response to digestion. This reaction suppresses the production of digestive enzymes needed for healthy digestion.
- Aging. Our ability to produce enzymes is affected by age. The more we age, the fewer enzymes we produce.
- Inadequate sleep. Insufficient sleep disrupts circadian physiology that in turn alters the production of digestive enzymes. Good sleep improves your health as well as your metabolic performance.
- Certain medications. Continuous use of certain drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin that function as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are known to increase the risks of leaky gut and peptic ulcer. Such medications are known to alter the functionality of your digestive system.
- Eating processed foods. Raw foods are better eaten as they are, simply because they naturally contain digestive enzymes that help our digestion. Processed foods, on the other hand, contain no enzymes at all leading to sluggish digestion.
- Water containing fluoride. When you drink fluoridated water, you take in fluoride which is known to inhibit the performance of pancreatic enzymes such as protease and lipase. It is also known to destroy the ultra-structure of your pancreas whose purpose is to produce all the necessary digestive enzymes needed for healthy digestion.
Also, it is possible that one or more of the factors above are affecting the production of digestive enzymes in your body. It is also possible that you’ve not made any steps to deal with this situation.
The good news is, digestive enzyme supplements abound. Digestive enzymes have proven benefits.
Benefits of digestive enzyme supplements
Faster digestion. Have you ever felt that food has stuck in your stomach for hours after eating a meal? Normally, food stays in the stomach for only about an hour before it moves to the small intestine. This feeling often comes from not having enough digestive enzymes in your stomach. Digestive enzyme supplementation has been shown to help you not only digest your food but also absorb it.
Less bloating and gas. Digestive enzyme supplements enable your body to digest your food more effectively. As a result, they reduce cramping and abdominal pain caused by undigested food particles that interact with gas-producing bacteria.
Reduction in food intolerances and allergies. The more thoroughly food is digested the lower the risk of allergic reactions in the gut. For example, gluten, a protein found in wheat, is known to elicit immune responses to some people.
Today, there are certain digestive enzymes in the market which help you break down gluten so that the risk of an immune response is lower.
Taking digestive enzyme supplements can support digestion. If you decide to start using one, look for plant-based, GMO-free products that contain all necessary (broad-spectrum) enzymes.
Dr. Matthew #1 Digestive Enzymes supplement is one of the most advanced currently in the market, containing 18+ enzymes that are plant-based. It’s gluten-free and GMO-free. You can read plenty of reviews from people who have tried it on Amazon.com.