Maintaining Nutrient Absorption with Daily Digestive Enzymes
7 minute read
It may come as a shock to you to learn that it was only recently discovered just how the digestive system works. More and more discoveries are being made that link illnesses back to poor digestion and nutrient malabsorption.
When we are younger, our bodies digestive enzymes break down food efficiently, delivering vital nutrients and elements that we need. Age and illness causes digestive function to deteriorate, which leaves us open to uncomfortable symptoms and disease.
Eating a healthy diet certainly promotes optimal health and vitality. The problem with healthy food is that it is essentially useless if not digested and absorbed properly. As it happens, our lifespan is directly related to our enzyme potential.
Enzymes slow the rate of exhaustion which increases vitality. As enzyme levels fall, food breakdown slows and is often incomplete causing malnutrition. The result ends up being compromised immunity, increased risk of disease, and faltering health.
The good news is that there is something you can do. A supplemental enzyme regimen can repair and improve digestive processes, getting you right back on the road to longevity.
What are Digestive Enzymes?
Essentially, enzymes are catalysts that speed up chemical reactions. Regarding digestion, they are responsible for breaking down food into smaller, easier to absorb nutrients and particles.
There are specific enzymes for every part of the metabolic process; amylase to break down carbohydrates, protease to break down proteins, and lipase for fats, to name a few. Most of the available supplemental enzymes are derived from plant sources and their purpose is to replace the pancreatic enzymes we no longer produce.
Exhaustion of Enzyme Potential
Every activity in our body is governed by enzymes; creating cellular energy, building muscle and bone, hormone production, and even thinking. There are three major types of enzymes; metabolic, food and digestive. Metabolic enzymes are mostly made in the pancreas and perform the processes for cellular metabolism.
Organic raw foods also contain enzymes,which means that the more of this food you eat, the less work your pancreas has to do. The process of chewing also releases enzymes, which get the digestive process started.
| Related: 11 Foods Rich In Gut-Supporting Digestive Enzymes |
What causes the system to come to a halt is the production of stomach acids. During the time the food is in the stomach, enzymes sit on the sidelines but jump right back into action in the intestines. When we do not get enough enzymes in our food, the pancreas gets overworked over time. This is compacted by the fact that most food enzymes are killed off during cooking.
Additionally, not chewing food properly causes less enzyme breakdown in the mouth. Generally speaking, during this pre-digestion phase in the mouth, more than half of the food is broken down into absorbable nutrients.
Before the pancreas even needs to get involved, most of the work has already been done. The more heavily we rely on the pancreatic enzymes to break down the waste in our intestines, the quicker the system becomes exhausted. Our pancreas becomes tired and inflamed which triggers a cascade of symptoms and illnesses.
The Digestive Process
Digestion begins in the mouth with the enzymes present in saliva. Much of the carbohydrate and fats in our food are broken down before the contents even reach the stomach. In the stomach gastric acid churns the food up and proteins begin to get digested. Once in the small intestine, our meals get further assistance from enzymes leaving nutrients, amino acids, simple sugars and fatty acids to be absorbed.
| Related: The Guide To a Healthy Gut |
Our natural intake of enzymes is low at best because Americans do not consume enough fresh, organic foods. As we age, our body’s production of pancreatic enzyme slows, and so does the digestive process. Slower digestion not only means malnutrition, but it also causes problems along the digestive tract.
Food moves slower which causes backup and constipation. Additionally, increased waste in the intestines means increased gas and bloating. Not only are these symptoms uncomfortable but they can have far reaching effects. Our immune system and overall health is tied to our guts, so when one process becomes impaired, they all do.
Recovering Enzyme Potential
There are several ways to boost the potential of your natural enzymes. You can start to chew your food more thoroughly to make sure as much food is digested in the mouth before it moves down the tract. Additionally, try to consume more unprocessed, raw foods.
If at all possible, reduce your stress levels, particularly when eating. Stress is not good for any part of our body but it negatively impacts digestion by slowing down the whole process.
Even if you follow an organic and unprocessed diet, some foods still require help. Meats contain tough to digest proteins which cause the pancreas to work hard. This is where adding enzyme supplements to your diet can help. You want to be sure to choose supplements that contain papain for protein digestion.
A double blind crossover study found that healthy individuals experienced greater digestive comfort after incorporating supplemental enzymes into their diets. Regardless of whether the enzymes are natural or added, the benefits are still the same, promoting your digestion and longevity to get back on track.
The Benefits of Enzymes
Most people do not think of taking enzymes until it becomes necessary. Why take a supplement if your digestive system seems to be working just fine? The process of aging will eventually affect us all, so the sooner you prepare, the less of an impact it will have on you. Additional enzymes in your diet now will not harm you but will provide relief for your pancreas, allowing the digestive system to function without being stressed.
The Bottom Line
Digestive enzymes play a starring role in averting inflammation, which is known to be linked to numerous serious ailments. By maintaining maximum digestive enzyme potential, you will get optimal nutritional status, as well as various health benefits and defense against some major diseases. Stop thinking “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”; don’t let it get broken in the first place.
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