Do you ever feel bloated or get constipated … or have diarrhea? Â What about heartburn, irritable bowels or just a bad case of gas?
More than 100 million Americans, or 1/2 the population, have digestive problems. These intestinal issues are just the beginning of what may lead to other chronic illnesses.
Chronic Illness And An Unhealthy Gut
Your gut health is critical to your overall health. Diabetes, obesity, arthritis, autism, depression, allergies, autoimmune disease, eczema, acne, dementia, chronic fatigue and cancerÂ are all issues that come from having an unhealthy gut. (Decreased enzyme levels are also found in many of these illnesses.)
This situation leadsÂ toÂ things like poor absorption, high toxicity, inflammation and improper digestion.
Food and environmental toxins like mold and mercury, food additives, preservatives, etc., cause damage to our gut health. The amount of stress we carry and chronic infections alter the nervous system of our gut. Antibiotics, birth control and most other drugs also contribute to an unhealthy gut flora and damage our intestinal barrier.
There are several things you can do to restore and maintain a healthy gut flora:
- Remove as many food toxins (processedÂ foods) from your body as you can. Try an elimination diet or get tested for food allergies to figure out what you should avoid eating.
- Detoxification and fasting are other avenues to explore.
- Eat fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, and take a probiotic supplement.
- Take an omega-3 supplement (fish or flax oil) to ease inflammation.
- Get rid of yeast, parasites or bacteria overgrowth that may be lurking in your gut. There are also supplements for this.
- Take the steps needed to manage the stress in your life. Exercise, sleep, massage and stress support supplements mayÂ help.
When your gut is healthy, your immune system works well. When your immune system works well, so do you.
What Are Digestive Enzymes
Giving your body digestive enzymes to help aid digestion is like hiring more workers for an extremely large task. The more workers you have, the better executed the task will be.Â Digestive enzymes help fight to keep your gut healthy.Â They are the key substances of the digestive process, working to break down our food for proper absorption. The four primary digestive enzymes are:
- Lipase enzymes, which help digest and assimilate fats.
- Protease/Peptidase enzymes, which break down proteins.
- Amylase enzymes, which break down carbohydrates or starch.
- CellulaseÂ enzymes, which break down cellulose molecules into simple sugars.
5 Reasons to Take Digestive Enzymes
1.Â Enzymes Are Vital to Human Survival.
Enzymes areÂ responsible for every chemical reaction that takes place in our bodies. These reactions allow our cells to build up and break down molecules quickly. Vitamins, minerals and hormones mean nothing without the labor force of enzymes. Here’s a simple example given to us by howstuffworks.comÂ …
The intestinal cells of lactose-intolerant people do not produceÂ lactase, the enzyme needed to break down lactose. This problem shows how the lack of just one enzyme in the human body can lead to problems. A person who is lactose intolerant can swallow a drop of lactase prior to drinking milk and the problem is solved.
2. Our Typical Diet andÂ Cooked Foods Drain Our Enzyme Supply.
Processed foods with additives, preservatives, nitrates, etc., do not contain the digestive enzymes needed for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Because our diet is made up mostly of these foods, our bodies are deficient in many nutrients. These foods also create harmful bacteria andÂ yeast overgrowth in our gut causing inflammation that leads to illness.
The more raw and organic food we eat, the more alive and well we will be. But, evenÂ non-organic raw food is better for you than cooked food – especially when it comes to enzymes. Raw foods like avocado, spinach and sprouts naturally contain enzymes. However, when these foods are heated, their enzymes are destroyed.
Enzyme-free foods force your body to steal enzymes from other parts of the body, just to digest, rather than using the enzymes from the food itself to do the job. This depletes the limited supply of enzymes we have in our bodies.
So, whether you eat mostly a raw diet or cooked food, taking digestive enzymes before you eat will help your body digest and absorb the nutrients needed for better health.
3. Even Some Raw Foods Contain Enzyme Inhibitors
Raw peanuts, raw wheat germ, egg whites, nuts, seeds, beans, peas, potatoes and lentils are all examples of healthy raw foods that contain enzyme inhibitors. This means that they actually neutralize some of the enzymes your body produces.
Dr. Edward Howell, author ofÂ Food Enzymes for Health & LongevityÂ and pioneer food enzyme researcher, explains:
These enzyme inhibitors are present for the protection of the seed. Nature doesn’t want the seed to germinate prematurely and lose its life. It wants to make sure that the seed is present in soil with sufficient moisture to grow and continue the species.
So, simply taking extra digestive enzymes when you eat seeds and nuts will neutralize these enzyme inhibitors.
4. Many Factors Cause Our Bodies to Use Up Enzymes Faster
The quicker you use up your enzyme supply, the faster you’ll run out. You will only live as long as your body has enzymes.
Our bodies use up enzymes in so many ways. For example, enzymes are used up by our bodies faster in extreme hot and cold weather, with strenuous exercise and when we’re ill.
This is another reason why it’s worth taking extra digestive enzymes to maintain your body’s enzyme bank.
According to Dr. Howell, “People could extend their lifespans by 20 or more years – just by maintaining proper enzyme levels.”
5. Enzyme levels drop significantly with age.
Low enzyme levels are associated with old age. In fact, as we age, we have fewer enzymes available and normal digestion slows down. This, in turn, affects the absorption of nutrients, which then leads to sickness and disease.
“Furthermore, as we pass our prime, the amount of enzymes in our bodies and excreted in our sweat and urine continues to decline until we die,” explains Dr. Howell.
If you add extra enzymes to your enzyme bank, you may have better health and longevity.
Foods High in Enzymes
Papayas, mangoes, avocados, sprouts and bananas are enzyme-rich foods.
But there’s a catch-22 …
Once the fruit or vegetable is ripe, it loses some concentration of its enzymes. When the produce ripens, the enzymes go back to the stem and seeds so that it can reproduce.
Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Here are some of Natural Healthy Concepts’ best-selling digestive enzyme supplements:
- DigestZyme – This unique formula is the perfect introduction to digestive enzymes. It also contains probiotics.
- Digest Basic – AÂ gentle digestive enzyme blend that supports digestion for all major food groups. 100% vegan.
- Premier Digest – AÂ vegan enzyme supplement to provide full-spectrum digestive support for fats, carbohydrates, proteins and dairy.
- ChewyZymes – AÂ natural berry-flavored, vegetarian, non-GMO, chewable tablet for adults and children.
It’s hard to be and stay healthy in our world today. Sometimes we feel so defeated by all the bad, that if feels worthless to even try. We simply accept it and expect that we will eventually die of cancer, diabetes or heart disease. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you try to eat healthy most of the time, focus on raw superfoods, choose organic as much as possible and supplement with a multi-vitamin, omega-3, probiotics and digestive enzymes – you’re doing well!
Do you have questions or a story to share? Leave a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!