Digestive enzymes are vital to our health. The are required for the proper digestion and assimilation of the food we eat. Enzymes are proteins that facilitate, or speed up, a wide variety of biological activities. They are produced by virtually all living organisms and are essential to every aspect of life. Digestive enzymes are a specific category of enzymes that unlock the nutritional value of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and hormones and allow them to go to work in the body. They break down the larger macromolecules of our food (such as protein, carbohydrates and fats) into their smaller building blocks. This makes it possible for our digestive system to properly utilize the nutrients they contain, and convert them into a form of energy that our cells can use.
Digestive enzymes influence a wide array of health conditions. Inadequate levels often result in bloating, belching, gas, bowel disorders, abdominal cramping, heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, reduced energy, poor immune function, and food sensitivities. Insufficient enzymes can also lead to a bacterial imbalance and nutritional deficiencies. Additionally, the digestive process consumes a large portion of our overall metabolic energy. When we suffer from inefficient digestion, it robs our body of energy that would otherwise be applied to important functions such as rebuilding and replacing damaged cells and tissues, and maintaining the immune system.
Digestive Enzymes Sources
We get our digestive enzymes from two natural sources. They are produced at various points along our digestive tract, and are also found in the foods we eat. However, since most of our food is either cooked or processed, destroying the enzymes contained within, our bodies must produce the majority of the digestive enzymes we require. Fortunately, when natural sources are insufficient, we can easily and safely take supplemental enzymes to aid in the digestive process.
The human body makes approximately 22 different digestive enzymes which are capable of digesting carbohydrates, protein and fats. They are produced in the salivary glands of the mouth, the stomach, the pancreas, and the small intestine, particularly the duodenum.
Who Needs Enzyme Supplements?
As we age, our ability to produce enzymes is decreased. Many people are simply deficient in one or more enzyme types from birth, and deficiencies may show up or worsen over time. Problems digesting dairy products, beans and fatty foods are very common. Relief from the resulting discomfort can be dramatic when supplemental enzymes are taken.
Supplementing with digestive enzymes can substantially improve your digestive health by ensuring that your food is digested efficiently. This helps to prevent digestion-related discomfort and reduces the potential for other illnesses by improving the assimilation and use of nutrients. The benefits can be impressive. A recent clinical study found that participants who took digestive enzymes with their meals increased their protein synthesis with free amino acid levels by up to 100%. This is particularly helpful, as proteins are perhaps the hardest food type for most people to digest.
Digestive enzymes may be exactly the right treatment for a wide variety of digestive problems, including gas, bloating, stomach cramping and even food sensitivities or food allergies. They are safe and affordable and can be found in a wide variety of combinations or single-purpose formulas.