Inadequate digestive enzyme production leads to digestive complications. The good news is, they are easy to replenish in most cases. Read on to learn how this all works together for better overall health.
Digestive health is the key to maintaining overall health. The incidence of digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, and excessive flatulence has risen over the past decades.
As recently as 1999, only 1 in every 10,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with some type of digestive disorder. Thanks to a poor diet and major lack of physical activity, that ratio has unfortunately dropped to 1 in 500!
When you add the fact that poor digestive health creates more than just digestive disorders, and influences negative health conditions throughout your body, you begin to understand how important a properly operating digestive process truly is.
Enzymes are defined as “substances produced by living organisms
that act as catalysts to bring about specific biochemical reactions.” The
job of digestive enzymes is to help you digest your food properly. When
everything is working in apple pie order, your digestive process takes all of
the vitamins, minerals and nutrients from your food, and passes everything that
your body doesn’t need as waste.
Your digestive system includes the digestive tract and stomach, as well as your pancreas, gallbladder and liver. Your digestive system relies on enzymes to work properly, protein-based globules that control biological reactions. Digestive enzymes speed up the natural breakdown of food and reduce the things you eat into their chemical components. Digestive enzymes do most of their important work in your gut.
When you do not have enough of the proper digestive enzymes in your body, do not get all of the nutritional goodness out of the foods you eat and the liquids you drink. This situation can lead to mental and physical problems throughout your body. As you know, when your body does not receive the nutrients, vitamins and nutritional requirements it craves, body parts and processes begin to break down.
It is in this way that the seldom talked about digestive enzymes in your body influence how healthy or unhealthy you are. Poor digestive health can lead to an increased rate of sickness and infection, cancer and heart disease, skin problems, poor respiratory health, neurological disorders, poor memory, obesity, and a long list of seemingly unrelated health problems.
Simply put, if you have tried tirelessly to fix some type of health problem and failed, the answer could be a poor digestive process, and not in the honest attempts you have made to become healthier.
Fix your digestive process, and you can realize the health and wellness goals which have evaded you up to this point.
Since enzymes are so crucial to overall health and well-being, and they
do much of their important work in your gut, many doctors and health experts
believe an unhealthy gut is the leading cause of most health problems.
Have you seen that commercial where the guy is buying a cell phone? He asks the salesperson dozens of questions before he makes a purchase. Then they show the same man in his doctor’s office. After a check-up the doctor asks the man if he has any questions. The patient thinks for a minute and says, “No.”
It is a sad state of modern man that we are so very concerned about our consumer electronics, but blindly accept whatever our doctor has to say. In most cases, this is because we have come to equate doctors with health improvement. If you trust your doctor, and in most every case you should, then it follows that you would definitely accept the opinion of a man known as the father of modern medicine concerning overall health and well-being, right?
We are referring of course to Hippocrates, a Greek philosopher and physician. He lived in the 5th and 4th centuries BC and was the first to openly declare that all sickness and disease had its origins in nature, and not in religion, which was a nearly scandalous thought at the time. Two of his major teaching points show just how important your gut and digestive systems are to your overall health.
“All disease begins in the gut.”
“Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.”
There are a couple of huge takeaways here.
First, and you are hearing this for about the millionth time, what you put into your body, the foods and beverages you eat and drink, is directly related to how healthy you are. Secondly, and just as important, your gut and your digestive system are hugely influential to keeping healthy as well.
How do you keep your gut and digestive system strong and working
properly? You do that by regulating healthy levels of digestive enzymes.
Do you enjoy a healthy diet, forgoing processed foods and fast foods, eating a wide variety of fresh plans and vegetables, raw when you can, nuts, seeds and berries, accompanied with wild-caught fish, organic poultry and grass-fed beef? Do you drink plenty of water throughout the day? Do you exercise and enjoy physical activities regularly? Do you get plenty of rest?
If you can honestly answer yes to all of those questions, there’s a good chance that you enjoy proper digestive health.
However, because of environmental factors, toxic chemicals in the clothes you wear and the linens you cover yourself with at night and other objects in your home, workplace and the air that you breathe, you could be negatively impacting the health of your digestive enzymes. The same is true if you experience stress regularly.
This is why eating foods which support digestive enzyme production is
so important to optimal health. You could be living a relatively healthy
lifestyle, and still be missing out on these important building blocks of
health. Aside from eating smart, there are enzyme supplements which are
available as well, to keep your digestive process working properly.
If your stomach feels “funny” after eating a heavy meal, that is a sign that you have probably overloaded your digestive process. This could or could not be a signal that you have overall digestive issues.
What are some symptoms of poor digestive health? The following list describes those issues, some seemingly unconnected with your digestive process, that should serve as red flags, indicating a problem with your digestive enzymes.
- Gas, belching, burping, a bloated feeling (especially within one hour of eating)
- Undigested food in your stool
- A craving of vinegar, citrus and other acidic foods
- Bad breath
- Heartburn, acid reflux
- Chronic diarrhea
- Stomach aches, pains and cramps
- Your fingernails chip, break and peel, or don’t grow properly
- You suffer from chronic fatigue or anemia, which do not respond positively to iron supplementation
- You are frequently sleepy after meals
- You routinely skip breakfast, and feel better when you don’t eat
- A loss of taste for meat and meat-based products
- Your sweat has a strong, unpleasant odor
- You experience an upset stomach when you take vitamins
This is far from a complete list of poor digestive health symptoms but
includes some of the more common signs of that health problem.
Are there any natural, “no doctor” remedies to boost digestive enzyme production?
Yes, there are natural remedies to boost the production of healthy digestive enzymes. Two of the most natural ways to ensure your gut has enough healthy digestive enzymes is to 1) eat the right foods, and 2) take a digestive enzyme supplement.
The following list includes the most important digestive enzymes (in alphabetical order), those that lead to optimal health and well-being throughout your body. Listed after each you will also see exactly what foods, components and substances they help break down.
- Alpha-galactosidase – Carbohydrates in beans and other legumes
- Amylase – Starches
- Cellulase – Dietary fiber (cellulose) in vegetables and fruits, seeds and grains
- Glucoamylase – The sugar found in grains (maltose)
- Invertase – Sugar (sucrose)
- Lactase – The sugar found in milk and milk products (lactose)
- Lipase – Any fat in your food
- Malt diastase – Carbohydrates in general
- Protease – Proteins (when supplementing, look for a combination of alkaline, neutral, and acid protease enzymes)
- Peptidase – The casein found in milk and milk products, as well as gluten in grains
As you can see from the above list, each digestive enzyme works on a specific type of food and has a very specific job. This is why your supplements should contain multiple digestive enzymes. At least one or more of the following enzymes, while not as important as the ones listed above, should also be present in any enzyme supplement you take (listed in no particular order):
- Xylanase – Helps break down plant fibers
- Pectinase – Breaks down carbohydrates found in fruits, especially pectin
- Hemicellulase – Helps break down plant fibers
- Phytase – Phytonutrients and minerals in plants
- Beta-glucanase – Breaks down Beta-Glucan, a fiber found in yeast, grains, and some mushrooms
Your digestive system is only designed to break down roughly 1/2 of all the food you eat. When you eat raw foods, such as an apple, the food itself does much of the digestive work for you.
This is because healthy, clean raw foods contain food enzymes which break down and help you digest anywhere from 40% to 60% of that food!
This means your digestive system has a very easy job.
However, eating cooked foods and other “dead foods”, which processed foods and fast foods definitely qualify as, puts your digestive process under incredible stress. Those types of foods require your body to break down 80% to 100% of the food itself. Even today’s raw foods, if they are not organic and certifiably free of pesticides, toxins and other poisons, may have so few food enzymes in them that they only break down 20% to 40% of that food.
This is why eating more of the following foods is so important, since
they contribute so many healthy digestive enzymes to your body.
- Organic raw foods
- Papaya fruit
- Bee pollen
- Raw honey
- Coconut water
- Melons, mangoes, kiwis and grapes
- Wheatgrass juice
- Sauerkraut, kimchee and other fermented vegetables
A poorly operating digestive process can affect your mood negatively. It can lead to problems with your memory, eventually contribute to heart disease, cancer, overweight and obesity, can create embarrassing and problematic skin conditions, even make your hair fall out. Those conditions are literally just the tip of the iceberg as far as health problems related to poor digestion are concerned.
Start eating more of the foods listed above.
Add a digestive enzyme supplement to your daily routine. Because of the number of environmental, airborne, dietary and lifestyle influences that contribute to poor digestive health, it just makes sense to take steps that guarantee you have healthy levels of the important digestive enzymes that lead to overall health and well-being.