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!
i had data analysis yesterday with regards to my health condition and i am in bad shape. i found out i lack vitamins c and e, my bones start thinning, my nerves have blockages, my liver is weak and slow in metabolism and the stroke volume of my heart is slow.how can you help me? i am 43 and i am from the Philippines.
thank you and i would like to hear from you the soonest possible time
Hi Janet – it sounds like you have a lot going on! If you had lab tests done, are you following up with the physician that ordered them? We would recommend doing that as we are not doctors here. Naturally it is my feeling that nutrition supplements can help bridge the gap between diet and disease. Sounds like you may benefit from at least a multivitamin. I am sure there are many other things that might help but I do suggest getting back with you doctor and finding out his diagnosis and recommendations.
the only supplements u should take r raw & organic everything else is synthetic.U should definetly take vitamin d for your bones eat lots of greens for calcium vitamin b comples or b12 eat lots of fruit excersize & live a helathy life
I just had my gall bladder removed and am wondering which type of enzyme substitutes would be best in addition to any other supplements to avoid any unpleasant digestive tract complications.
Shannon – many people find that taking an enzyme with bile and/or pancreatic enzymes such as Beta Plus, is helpful to digest fats. Your liver will still produce bile but it goes to the small intestine rather than to the stomach via the gallbladder, resulting in more indigestion for some people.
I have been taking enzymes for a couple years and lately I notice I can’t sleep when taking them. I take Solaray ultra-strenght super digestaway enzymes. They do benefit in many ways but I need the sleep also. Do you have any suggestions. I do know when I don’t take them I start sleeping better. But then the other issues from not taking them arise. Thank you. Penny
Hi Penny – You could try a couple things. If you like the Super Digestaway Enzymes, you could just take them with breakfast and lunch. Try to eat lighter for dinner and take a digestive enzyme that doesn’t contain ginger. The All-Zyme Digestive Enzyme formula is similar, but without the ginger. Hope this works for you.
Whatever you do, don’t take chewable enzymes, or any other chewable supplement for that matter. They will all have ingredients such as the ChewyZymes listed above:
Fructose – Bad type of sugar that you don’t want in your gut. In fact fructose can worsen gut problems i.e. IBS
Maltodextrin – Artificial sweetener – not a good one at that.
Natural Colors and Flavors – Whenever you see this, your alarm bells should go off. I recently discovered that “Natural Flavors” more often than not means MSG (which I found pretty shocking!). This particular product does state that it is actually “natural” strawberry/raspberry flavors so it may be ok but I’d still steer well clear of this. Most chewables do contain MSG so I wouldn’t risk it plus the Fructose and Maltodextrin are reasons enough to avoid.
While ChewyZymes are not necessarily the best example, I wouldn’t say that all chewables have these ingredients. For instance, Mega Probiotic ND Digestive Enzyme Chewable doesn’t have fructose or maltodextrin or non-descriptive natural flavor. It does make use of xylitol and natural orange flavor.
Maltodextrin is actually derived from real food such as corn, potato or wheat starch; no not the best ingredient, but . . . not artificial.
We have about eight papaya trees at home thanks to my mom’s passion for homegrown fruits and vegetables. Papayas are rich in enzymes as you have mentioned but only when they are not ripe and that is a green papaya. The only time we can eat a green papaya is when my father cooks it together with chicken and coconut oil, pardon my lack of knowledge in recipe names. Cooking the papaya means heating it so the enzymes are lost like what you said. How about if it’s blended into a cold smoothie? That’s how we can bear to eat a green papaya right
Hi I just started taksugadiestive enzymes from gnc today 4.7.14. Omg my stomach has been abused by me because of sugar. I have had a ct scan done but my gastrointestinal doctor said he did not see any anything. But I still have this terrible pain.i was diagnosed witH mal absorption for sugars 2006.i
Hi Adriane, it sounds like it would benefit you to find a doctor who can get to the bottom of your intestinal issues. Perhaps a doctor trained in functional medicine or one who has knowledge about the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) that can help heal your gut. Also, when you purchase supplements, make sure they’re knowledgeable about the specific health concerns you have and will address your needs. Some places pay commission to their sales staff and they have a different health focus than what you might need. All the best to you in getting your digestive issues taken care of!
I have been taking enzyme supplements to improve my health, and my visits to the doctor has become very much less frequent
One of the great things about living in Asia is all the enzyme rich foods around. I don’t know if it’s due to the enzymes but eating lots of pineapple, papaya and coconut oil works wonders for the digestion. It also tastes great of course.
Hi, Good information. Your post is very interesting about the benefits of digestive enzymes. Thanks for sharing this useful information.
I really mean this! What an awesome detailed read on Digestive Enzymes! You my friend have done your homework. I love digestive enzymes because I found that they are the only thing that works for me and allows me to eat the kind of foods I haven’t been able to in years like pizza, spaghetti and as such. However I just wanna say thank you for writing this up as people do need to know the seriousness of stomach problems such as GERD, Acid Reflux and Heartburn. Digestive Enzymes can help you with all of this!
I have just discovered the importance of digestive enzymes. I have been a vegan raw foodist for 9 years and before that vegetarian. How beneficial would it be for me to take digestive enzymes and if so which one would you recommend. I appreciate your site. It has been very helpful. In addition, I have no health problems and 66 years of age. I’ am giving that info because according to research many of your enzymes are depleted by age 60.
Thank you so much for your response
Barbara, as a raw foodist, you are getting live enzymes in every bite you eat! So your need for enzymes is less than someone who primarily eats cooked food. It is true (to my knowledge) that our ability to produce enzymes decreases with age. An all around digestive enzyme probably wouldn’t hurt especially if you are eating away from home. Similase from Integrative is popular vegan formula for many of our customers.
Yes. Above 5 reasons is really excellent about digestive enzymes. I know that Digestive Enzymes are Enzyme that break down polymeric macromolecules into their smaller building blocks, in order to facilitate their absorption by the body. Digestive enzymes are found in the digestive tracts of animals (including humans) and in the traps of carnivorous plants, where they aid in the digestion of food, as well as inside cells, especially in their lysosomes, where they function to maintain cellular survival. Digestive enzymes are diverse and are found in the saliva secreted by the salivary glands, in the stomach secreted by cells lining the stomach, in the pancreatic juice secreted by pancreatic exocrine cells, and in the intestinal (small and large) secretions, or as part of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.
Digestion enzymes are very vital in our bodies. We need to take digestive enzymes because Enzymes Are Vital to Human Survival,Our Typical Diet & Cooked Foods Drain Our Enzyme Supply,Even Some Raw Foods Contain Enzyme Inhibitors,Many Factors Cause Our Bodies to Use up Enzymes Faster and Enzyme levels drop significantly with age.Thanks for sharing with us.
All true, James! Thanks for your comment. I was actually just learning more about fermented foods and how they are loaded with natural enzymes and probiotics. We should all eat more of that!
Thats a great comment James. May be I should embark on eating raw foods…
I have pancreatitis and cysts on it. I will be going to get further check up soon. I have a pancreas dividum a divided pancreas. So I have indigestion as well. The doctor has me on Zenpep 25000IU capsules. 1 capsules with each meal. I
think these are causing me to have indigestion. What natural herb will give me the benefits as Zen pep. I would rather not take antibiotics. I do take probiotic everyday. Please give me some info asap. Thank you, linda
This article is great, and is only the tip of the iceberg on what enzymes have been proven through clinical research to be able to do. I personally use and recommend the Transformation brand, which is listed through the following website:
There are specific products, along with a lot of relevant reading that you can check up on.
? ? Just interested in health benefits of enzymes
I have fibromyalgia an chronic fatigue an wanting to help my gut flora with enzymes an probiotics is there anything u can reccomend for me thanks
I never knew that enzymes tend to be fewer as we age which in turns affect our normal digestion and cause sickness and disease. My parents have been getting sick for the past few weeks, and I couldn’t figure out the reason why. They’re particularly having issues with constipation, so I’m glad that I’m now aware how fewer enzymes can be the possible reason why. I will make sure to shop for digestive enzyme supplements for my parents. Thanks!