The Natural Digestive Enzymes You Need for Better Fat Digestion
6 minute read
The organs responsible for digesting fat in your body are the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. While the term “fat” has a predominately negative image, fats are essential to your health and a necessary part of a balanced diet. The processes of digestion are responsible for breaking down the food you eat into the useful components your body needs.
Your body uses digestive enzymes to do this, and the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder rely on enzymes for proper fat digestion. Here is what enzymes you need and how to ensure you always have enough.
The Digestion Process
Digestion starts as soon as food enters your mouth. The enzyme amylase in your saliva begins to break down carbohydrates, and lipase begins to break down fats.
Despite this earlier work of lipase, the real digestion of fat does not occur until the food reaches your small intestine.
The partially digested food activates hormones as it travels from the stomach to the small intestine. These hormones signal the release of bile from the liver, which then signals the pancreas to release hormones, bile, and lipase to the intestines.
So long as your body has ideal enzyme production and activity, this process runs smoothly and efficiently. With enzyme depletion, however, there can be several issues.
Getting older naturally results in a slowing of digestive enzyme production, but poor diet and lifestyle choices can also contribute to this. Bloating or cramping after meals, along with loose and greasy stools as well as dry skin are all signs that fat digestion has been impaired.
The likely cause is a lack of fat-digesting enzymes and the inability to properly digest and absorb fat.
The Importance of Lipase
Lipase is the main digestive enzyme responsible for breaking down fat into useable fatty acids. By adding water to the fat molecules, a process known as hydrolysis, the molecules are broken down.
Because cell membranes as well as other important structures in the body are made from lipids (fats), it is important to have enough fat in your diet. Even when you choose the healthier fats over the unhealthy ones, without proper digestion and absorption, your body will still suffer.
The reasons that fat cannot be properly broken down and absorbed include your liver not producing enough bile, poor quality of bile, and your pancreas not producing enough enzymes.
Not eating enough fat results in low bile production because eating fat is what signals production to begin. Without regular bile production, the fats and other foods you eat cannot be properly digested.
Since fat is not water soluble, the end products of digestion are carried through your blood. If they are not fully digested, they cannot be absorbed.
Lipase is essential to this process. You need to include fats in your diet and also support healthy liver and pancreatic function. You also need to keep digestive enzyme levels high to aid in the digestive processes.
How You Can Support Fat Digestion
Digestive enzyme supplements are the usual way to be sure you have enough, but you can also add certain foods to your diet too. Eating these foods is a great and natural way to boost enzyme presences in light of the natural slow in production that comes with aging.
Avocados are known for being full of healthy fats. While being high in the fat you need and low in sugar (unlike most fruits that contain natural sugars), avocados have a healthy dose of lipase.
Including avocados in your diet is a great way to help your body digest high-fat meals so you get the essential fatty acids your cells need.
This fermented cabbage is common in Korean dishes and is beneficial for overall digestive health. The high probiotic content in this fermented food supports the natural gut flora you have. As these bacteria work to digest food and protect your gut, they produce beneficial enzymes including lipase.
Miso is another fermented food that benefits gut health, digestion, and fat absorption. Miso is a fermented soy product that contains probiotics and enzymes to support healthy digestion and optimal nutrient absorption.
Despite being popular in Japanese culture, Miso is becoming a sought-after food item in America because of its taste and digestive benefits.
Ginger has been used in cooking and for medicinal purposes for centuries. Ginger contains several different digestive enzymes and also helps the body to increase production of its own. By supporting the natural processes of your body, ginger can makes sure you have enough lipase on hand to properly digest the foods you eat.
A Regular, Balanced Diet
In addition to these specific foods, you want to follow a balanced diet that is also full of fiber. Fiber makes its way through your digestive tract and serves as ideal food for your gut bacteria.
By supporting the health of gut bacteria, they thrive and produce more digestive enzymes naturally. Fiber, along with prebiotic foods (those that also feed your bacteria) and probiotics, are the best way to support gut health and keep digestion running smoothly.
| Related: Papaya: The Many Health Benefits of Papain Enzymes |
You can also work to support healthy digestion by following a scheduled eating plan. Missing meals or eating irregularly causes your digestive processes to slow, which can decrease production of the enzymes you need.
Finally, drink plenty of water because dehydration is another common cause for digestive troubles.
The Bottom Line
You cannot maintain optimal health without nutrition, and you cannot get the nutrition you need without a balance and digestive aids like enzymes.
Lipase is essential for the digestion and absorption of fat that your body needs. If you notice digestive or malabsorption issues, a lack of enzymes may be your problem. Taking supplements or eating more lipase-rich foods is a great way to restore digestive health and get your body all the essential nutrients it needs.