The Importance & Benefits of a Plant-Based Digestive Enzyme Supplement
7 minute read
Digestive enzymes are natural proteins your body makes that help to break down foods into smaller easy to absorb nutrients. When the supply of these proteins decreases, your body is not able to fully process and absorb food nutrients, leading to uncomfortable digestive problems.
If you have noticed several digestive symptoms but have not been able to identify the cause, it could be your enzyme levels. Adding a plant-based digestive enzyme supplement to your diet could help not only address digestive issues but also ensure your body can absorb essential nutrients.
Why You Should Choose a Plant-Based Enzyme Supplement
Enzymes are derived from either plant- or animal-based sources. Animal-based or pancreatic enzymes are effective only within a narrow alkaline pH range, which means the enzymes cannot endure the acidic environment of the stomach.
Therefore, these animal-based enzymes don’t start doing their job until they reach the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine, which has a neutral pH range. Animal-based enzymes don’t help with your digestion until after food passes through the stomach.
Plant-based enzymes act earlier in the digestive process and can be used by those following a plant-based diet. In addition, there are no concerns about the food sources of the animal from which the enzymes were derived.
| Related: What Are Digestive Enzymes? |
Your body produces different enzymes to help process different foods. If you do not produce enough of a particular enzyme, you will have difficulty digesting the related food. For example, if you do not have the enzyme to digest dairy, you are most likely going to be lactose intolerant.
The main enzymes your body produces for digestion are:
♦ Amylase to split starches and sugars into easy to absorb glucose molecules
♦ Protease to break down proteins into amino acids
♦ Lipase for the processing of fats into fatty acids
♦ Maltase which is used to convert certain sugars in grains into glucose
♦ DPP-IV (dipeptidyl peptidase) which breaks down gluten and casein
The digestive process starts as soon as you put food in your mouth. Saliva contains amylase which starts breaking down carbohydrates into sugars. Once food enters your stomach, the enzyme pepsin continues to break down proteins and other foods.
Most of the digestive enzymes get to work in the small intestine. Food in your mouth additionally kick starts the pancreas into producing digestive enzymes, so your digestive system is in full swing as soon as you start eating. The enzymes from the pancreas take over in the small intestine, breaking everything down one final time into nutrients for absorption.
How Can Digestive Enzymes Help
There are a number of specific conditions that a supplement of digestive enzymes can help with.
Pancreatic Insufficiency: This condition is when your pancreas does not make enough digestive enzymes or the ones that are made are easily destroyed. Supplemental enzymes help to process your food thus avoiding absorption, diarrhea and increased risk of serious diseases.
Lactose Intolerance: When lactose cannot properly be digested in the small intestine it causes diarrhea and flatulence. Supplements that contain lactase can help resolve these symptoms and allow you to eat dairy without discomfort.
Gluten Intolerance: Found in wheat products, gluten is hard to digest for a large number of people. A digestive enzyme supplement can help to alleviate the symptoms of the minor gut problems related to processing gluten.
Food Allergies: By definition, an allergy is the body's immune response to a foreign particle. When you have insufficient enzyme levels, reactions to certain proteins can be severe. Supplements high in proteases can break down those proteins, helping to alleviate allergic reactions to foods.
Celiac Disease: This disease is characterized by your body's ability to hydrolyze wheat proteins, which causes inflammation and serious injury to intestinal cells. Supplements with proteases and peptidases can help with this condition.
Microbial Control: Pathogenic microbes can gain access to our bodies through food but your stomach acid usually takes care of most of them. Some enzymes are able to block bacterial infection from attaching to cells and therefore, prevent infection.
Colon Health: The health of your colon depends on probiotic and enzymatic balance. Your body will not absorb the nutrients from the food that is not completely processed by the colon and dangerous bacteria can take over. An enzyme supplement will help restore and keep the ecological balance.
| Related: Daily Digestive Enzymes Help Improve Colon Health |
If you suspect a problem with your digestive enzyme count, speak with your physician about getting tested. Inadequate numbers of digestive enzymes can be caused by any number of factors: toxins, leaky gut, food sensitivity and inflammation, chronic stress, genetics, and aging.
Fortunately, plant-based digestive enzymes can boost your digestive system. After taking a high-quality supplement with meals for several days, you should notice an improvement in your stools.
The Bottom Line
Digestion is the basis for your overall health. Without proper digestion, you do not get the nutrients you need. The gut's connection to your immune and central nervous systems makes it vital to your well-being. Adding plant-based digestive enzyme supplements to your diet can help with digestive and overall health.
By giving your enzymes attention, you can potentially increase your nutrient absorption and resolve nagging digestive issues and pains. The difference is immediately noticeable when extra nutrients are flowing through your body: great hair, glowing skin, strong nails, and no fatigue.
It's true what they say—beauty really is within. You probably just never realized this meant your gut.
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