Benefits of Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Improve the digestive process of individuals with gastrointestinal and other related diseases
Having understood how digestive enzymes work and who would benefit from them, we know that supplementation with digestive enzymes DOES NOT cure those struggling with several diseases. Digest enzymes take some of the load off your stomach, pancreas, or liver by filling in any digestive gaps caused by enzyme insufficiency due to pre-existing health conditions. It also supports the breakdown of nutrients, especially fats and proteins, often difficult to digest.
Help address many digestive symptoms
Digestive symptoms like constipation, gas and bloating, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, acid reflux, and heartburn are common and may be caused by a number of things. Digestive enzyme supplementation may help in managing these cumbersome symptoms. It also helps support a leaky gut.
Boost the immune system
When we eat well and digest effectively, we equip our bodies with the necessary nutritional support for optimal immune function and natural self-healing.
Curb your cravings and improve satiety
Weight loss and weight management are not considered the primary benefits of digestive enzyme supplementation. However, nutrient absorption is essential as there are thousands of bodily actions that rely on the catalysts provided by various minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, amino acids, and sugars. Many of these are connected to hormone action, thought processes, fat storage vs fat burning, etc. Also, since effective digestion may help you feel fuller for a more extended period of time, you may more easily avoid food binging or loading up on sweets to satisfy those hunger pangs.
Enhance cognitive performance
There is a clear and scientifically-proven connection between gut health and the brain. When we have issues with digestion because of insufficient enzymes, we may feel more lethargic, stressed, moody, and foggy. Digestive enzyme supplements may help in addressing these cognitive manifestations.
Choosing the Right Digestive Enzyme
Digestion is a complex, multi-stage process of breaking down digested food into smaller components that the body can use to fuel itself for various functions. It starts when the food touches the tongue and teeth; it then continues to the stomach and intestines, down to the point where the food remnants are ready for elimination. Digestion employs a number of organs like the stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, and others to be successful and efficient. Throughout this long process, one crucial player is constantly at work – our digestive enzymes.
Generally speaking, enzymes are proteins that fulfill a pivotal role in numerous biological reactions. Digestive enzymes split up large molecules of food into their basic building blocks. Once foods are converted into these usable forms, only then will we be able to benefit from them nutritionally.
What are Digestive Enzymes?
If our food intake is not processed accordingly, it becomes a liability rather than an asset to our bodies. Without sufficient and appropriate digestive enzymes, not only will we suffer indigestion and malnutrition, but we may also experience a lot of digestive symptoms like constipation, gas and bloating, heartburn, and diarrhea, among others.
Types of Digestive Enzymes
There are many types of digestive enzymes. There are also various ways to classify them. Some references group them according to their point of origin. Using this classification, there are five types – from the mouth, from the stomach, from the pancreas, from the liver, and from the small intestine.
However, digestive enzymes are more popularly classified based on the chemical reaction it speeds up. Digestive enzymes are, therefore broadly classified into the following:
- Protease or proteolytic enzymes – break down proteins into amino acids
- Lipase or lipolytic enzymes – break down fats into fatty acids and glycerol
- Amylase or amylolytic enzymes – break down carbohydrates and starch into simple sugars
Who Needs Digestive Enzymes?
All of us require digestive enzymes!
In an ideal world without diseases, toxins, medication, and physical degeneration, our bodies are equipped with all the digestive enzymes they need to break down natural and healthy food. However, because of the reality of these factors and health conditions, many of us have digestive enzyme insufficiency.
If you belong to any of these groups, you may benefit the most from taking digestive enzyme supplements:
1. Individuals with gastrointestinal issues
Having insufficient digestive enzymes may mean more frequent and severe digestive symptoms for patients suffering from IBS, leaky gut, ulcerative colitis, and other digestive diseases. It is very important that you take all the steps necessary to ease your gastrointestinal system of additional stress if your digestion is impaired to begin with.
2. People with low stomach acid or hypochlorhydria
When we experience heartburn, acid reflux, or nausea and vomiting after eating, we often blame hyperacidity and immediately take over-the-counter antacids. However, the more common culprit is low stomach acid. Hypochlorhydria is more rampant among the elderly but is also common in people who live with chronic stress. It is also associated with conditions like GERD, gastritis, SIBO, hypothyroidism, stomach ulcer, or stomach cancer.
3. Patients with gallbladder, liver, and pancreatic diseases
The contribution of the gallbladder, liver, and pancreas are all critical for a successful digestive process. The bile, pancreatic lipase, pancreatic amylase, phospholipase, trypsin, chymotrypsin, elastases, and nucleases from these organs all have a role to play. Therefore, individuals with diseases related to these organs may have an impaired ability to produce digestive enzymes necessary for specific reactions. Those who have had gallbladder removal and post-cholecystectomy syndrome could also greatly benefit from digestive enzymes and supplemental bile.
As we grow older, our stomachs become less and less acidic. Aging also affects the rate of enzyme production. There is a catch 22 at play here: the fewer enzymes we make, the fewer nutrients we absorb from our food which depletes us of the nutrients needed to produce hydrochloric acid which means we absorb less, and so on. Taking digestive enzyme supplements may result in better absorption of nutrients.
5. Individuals with enzyme insufficiency
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with enzyme insufficiency, taking digestive enzymes may not simply be beneficial; it may be imperative for nutrient absorption and function.
6. Anyone with digestive symptoms
This includes indigestion, gas and bloating, stomachache, constipation, diarrhea, the feeling of fullness, heartburn, acid reflux, or bile reflux.
Not all digestive enzymes are created equal. To find the right blend for you, consider the source and quality of the enzymes, your diet, and your health condition. Many people with impaired digestion, such as gallbladder problems, find animal-based enzymes to be too strong.
Under these conditions, digestive enzymes from microbial or plant-based sources are generally preferable.
Your diet is also of primary consideration. Check out your pantry and look at what you eat most of the time. Get rid of processed foods as well as common food allergens. These foods are tough on digestion, providing little to no nutritional value and wreaking havoc with your digestive system. They cause inflammation, at the very least. If you are eating food items that make digestion more difficult, find out which enzymes can help you break them down. For example, if you have trouble digesting proteins, you will need protease enzymes.
Know that fresh fruits and vegetables contain live enzymes whereas cooked food does not; therefore, always start your meal with a raw salad and take digestive enzymes with all cooked meals. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir are high in natural enzymes.
If you have any health conditions, ask your health practitioner what foods, vitamins, and enzymes help you manage symptoms and get the nutrition you need. For people with gallbladder issues or with no gallbladder, we recommend Digestive Enzymes by Good Apple Nutritionals, which are vegan and microbial-based. This formula also includes the right amount of lipase for fat digestion and extra enzymes for gas and bloating support.