Digestive Enzymes – What you need to Know!
Digestive enzymes are extremely important! You are what you eat – no wait – really you are what you eat AND what you are able to digest and absorb. You can eat a very healthy diet but if you don’t digest your food efficiently you won’t reap the benefits from your food.
Food has to be broken down into the basic nutrients to be absorbed and utilized for metabolic processes, energy and building. Digestive enzymes are produced in the mouth, stomach, pancreas and small intestine. Additionally the liver produces bile to help with the digestion of fats. We don’t absorb chicken, pasta, apples or avocados – we absorb the breakdown products which include amino acids (protein), simple sugars (carbohydrates), fatty acids and cholesterol (fats), minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients that come from our food and are used for our benefit. That’s assuming everything is working correctly.
But…often that is not the case.
What causes your digestive enzymes to be low?
- Chronic stress – when you are in a chronic state of “fight or flight” your digestion is reduced. The sympathetic nervous system is dominant during stress thus reducing digestion. During times of relaxation the parasympathetic or calming nervous system promotes digestion.
- Age – the older you get the less digestive enzymes you produce leading to poor digestion
- Dysbiosis – overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria, yeast or parasites
- Disease of the pancreas – cancer, cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis
- Bowel Diseases like Celiac and Crohn’s negatively impact the brush border where food is absorbed
- Inflammation from food allergies
- Low stomach pH
- Medications like antacids, acid blockers like proton pump inhibitors (eg. Prilosec)
Symptoms of poor digestion
- Gas and burping
- Heartburn and reflux
- Upset stomach, cramping, nausea with certain foods
- Feeling full longer than you should – food just sits in your stomach
- Food craving – especially for carbs
- Unable to eat foods that you used to eat without trouble
- Bad breath
- Diarrhea and irritable bowel
- Undigested food in stool
- Hair that lacks luster and nails that are brittle or ridged
- Fatigue or poor endurance
- Headaches – especially migraine
- Skin problems – eczema, pale or thin translucent skin
- Yeast infections
- Weight gain especially around the midline
- Achy joints or sore muscles
- Poor attention or brain fog
- Hyperactivity in children
What can you do to improve your digestive enzyme function?
- Chew your food – don’t gobble down partially chewed food. Take your time and enjoy food.
- Eat some raw veggies – uncooked fruits and veggies are rich in natural enzymes
- Take digestive enzymes – plant based broad spectrum is good place to start
- Take probiotics
- Eat greens – consider a green smoothie every morning to start your day off right. Link to green smoothie recipe
- Remove inflammatory foods – grains, gluten, soy – consider testing for food allergies or intolerance
- Learn to relax – deep breathe, stretch, meditate, smile & laugh, spend time with nature
- Find a balance in your life, reduce stress and enjoy each day
- Get plenty of sleep – at least 7 hours per night is optimal. Take a nap when you can.
How do I know if I need digestive enzyme support?
- Take our Quiz
- Stool testing – there are a variety of tests available
- Symptoms are present and bothersome – consider a trial of digestive enzymes
- Get evaluated for digestion and Intestinal flora – make an appointment and get going!
Digestive enzymes can make such a big difference and they are so easy, safe, affordable and most of all effective. In my practice I have seen so many amazing improvements in people’s symptoms just by use of digestive enzymes and probiotics.
What are you waiting for? Get started today.