If you suffer with occasional bloating, gas or other digestive concerns after eating, especially the foods you enjoy most, you’re not alone. According to a national survey back in 2013 of 2,000 adults, 74 percent of Americans live with these types of common digestive symptoms.
Some of these symptoms are due to sensitivities such as lactose intolerance and gluten allergies and/or it’s due to eating too many processed, cooked foods. In the end, these symptoms and other digestive concerns may be telling you your body can’t break down the food you eat and properly absorb nutrients.
By adding digestive enzymes that your body may be lacking, you may be able to help ease occasional complaints and more fully reap the benefits of the nutrients in your food. After all….what’s the use in putting all the effort to eat healthy when your body can’t absorb the nutrients and in essence, you waste your time…and your will power?
In this article, I am going to review what an enzyme and more specifically, a digestive enzyme is – digestive enzyme deficiencies and how to correct it – and my top recommendation for the best digestive enzyme supplement!
An enzyme is an organic compound that enables a chemical reaction, such as digestion. Digestive enzymes are a group of enzymes that break down macromolecules (i.e. carbohydrates, proteins and fats) into their smaller building blocks (i.e. simple sugars, amino acids and fatty acids), 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 where they function to maintain cellular survival.
In the human digestive system, the main sites of digestion are the oral cavity, the stomach, and the small intestine. Digestive enzymes are primarily produced in the pancreas and small intestine and secreted by different exocrine glands including:
⦁ Salivary glands
⦁ Gastric glands in the stomach
⦁ Secretory cells(eyeslit) in the pancreas
⦁ Secretory glands in the small intestine
CAUSES FOR DIGESTIVE ENZYME DEFICIENCY
There are many factors that could cause someone’s body to not produce digestive enzymes efficiently.
First, diseases may prevent proper digestive enzyme production.
⦁ Pancreatic problems, including cystic fibrosis, pancreatic cancer, and acute or chronic pancreatitis.
⦁ Celiac disease
⦁ G.I. diseases like Crohn’s
Other than disease, other lifestyle factors and health issues can play a part.
⦁ Low-grade inflammation in the digestive tract (such as that caused by “food allergies,” intestinal permeability, dysbiosis, parasitic infection, leaky gut syndrome etc.) can lead to deficiencies in digestive enzymes.
⦁ Aging has been associated with decreased digestive function
⦁ Low stomach acid with has been shown to coincide with low digestive enzyme production as well.
⦁ Chronic stress. This is the most common reason for digestive enzyme problems. Our body has two modes: sympathetic “fight or flight,” and parasympathetic “rest and digest.” When we’re in “fight or flight” mode, digestion is given a very low priority, which means digestive function (including digestive enzyme output) is dialed down. Chronic stress= constant “fight of flight” mode = impaired digestive enzyme output.
SYMPTOMS OF DIGESTIVE ENZYME DEFICIENCY
Some of the possible symptoms of a digestive enzyme deficiency include:
⦁ Indigestion, gas, bloating
⦁ Abdominal pain or cramps
⦁ Undigested foods in your stool
⦁ Floating/fatty stool
⦁ Foul smelling stool
⦁ Constipation, diarrhea
⦁ Difficulty passing stool
⦁ Food allergies, difficulties digesting certain foods
⦁ Acid reflux, heartburn
⦁ Blood sugar issues
⦁ Feeling tired after eating
⦁ Craving for certain foods
⦁ Have to eat something every 2 hours, otherwise get cranky or hungry
⦁ Thinning hair or hair loss, lose of shine, unhealthy hair
⦁ Weak nails
⦁ Pale or unhealthy/dull skin
⦁ Rashes, eczema
⦁ Muscles or joints pain
⦁ Slow wound healing or slow recovery from physical activities
⦁ Body odor
In essence, if you suffer from a digestive enzyme deficiency, you suffer from malnutrition to some extent. This makes you more susceptible to disease and illness, complicates existing diseases and illnesses and slows healing and recovery.
If you are experiences any health issues – consult your physician immediately to help determine the cause.
HOW TO HELP NATURALLY IMPROVE DIGESTIVE ENZYME DEVELOPMENT
1. Eat more raw foods in your diet – Enzymes are naturally found in raw foods, such as fruits, vegetables and seeds, just as nature intended. High enzymes foods include sprouts (micro greens), fresh ripe fruits, veggies and sprouted seeds and blue-green algae. These foods don’t require our bodies to tap into their own digestive enzyme reservoirs like cooked foods. Cooked foods enzymes are destroyed by the heat and therefore deplete the bodies enzyme storage in order to efficiently digest and break it down.
2. Combat stress – Stress causes physiological changes, like a heightened state of awareness, faster breathing and heart rates, elevated blood pressure, a rise in blood cholesterol, and an increase in muscle tension. When stress activates the flight-or-flight response in your central nervous system, it can affect your digestive system by:
⦁ Causing your esophagus to go into spasms
⦁ Increasing the acid in your stomach, which results in indigestion
⦁ Making you feel nauseous
⦁ Giving you diarrhea or constipation
In more serious cases, stress may cause a decrease in blood flow and oxygen to the stomach, which could lead to cramping, inflammation, or an imbalance of gut bacteria and can exacerbate gastrointestinal disorders such as GERD, IBS/IBD etc.
3. Practice good eating habits such as effectively chewing up all of your food before swallowing; Eat slowly and mindfully which will naturally aid your digestion; Drink slowly, giving the liquid time to mix with your saliva to aid in digestion.
4. Watch for food sensitivity – If after eating certain foods you experience digestion issues, you may have a food sensitivity. Pay close attention to common allergens such as dairy, soy, nuts, or foods that are known to be hard to digest such as beans, legumes, and fatty meats.
5. Take a digestive enzyme supplement! Found OTC or prescription – these supplements can help aid your body in digestion.
THE MAIN TYPES OF DIGESTIVE ENZYMES
1. Carbohydrases are enzymes that break down carbohydrates such as starches, sugars and cellulose into more easily absorbed sugar molecules. These include amylase, lactase, cellulose, and Beta-glucanase.
2. Proteases are enzymes that break down intact protein molecules into individual amino acids for proper absorption. Examples of proteases are pepsin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, and peptidase.
3. Lipases are enzymes that break down fats into easily absorbable fatty acid and glycerol molecules. Bile aids the actions of lipases by breaking the fat into small droplets. Lipases break down triglycerides, support gall bladder function, and improve fat utilization by your body.
Once enzymes break down these macro-nutrients, the smaller molecules enter your bloodstream and play an important role in fueling your body, boosting your metabolism, and even making your cells’ DNA.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A DIGESTIVE ENZYME SUPPLEMENT
If you are interested in starting a digestive enzyme, it’s important to know there are single enzyme supplements or full spectrum supplements. A lot of products on the market focus on a specific enzyme. A small assortment of enzyme types just doesn’t get the job done. You want a broad array of different types of enzymes in the formula to break down a variety of foods. For this reason, I recommend a full Spectrum Enzyme containing a very broad range of enzymes derived from plant, bacterial and fungal sources to help digest different types of foods, and to digest them quickly.
SAFETY AND POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS
Overall, digestive enzymes are safe – however, there are things to consider before taking it. Always consult your physician or dietitian before starting any new supplement to ensure it is right for you.
*The FDA has not reviewed this product for safety or effectiveness. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
*Take this medication by mouth with meals and snacks as directed by your doctor and as directed on the label.
*Some supplement products have been found to contain possibly harmful impurities/additives. Be sure to always read the label and consult your pharmacist or physician if you are unsure of the safety of an ingredient.
*Although rare, some patients can experience life-threatening allergic reactions when taking this medicine. If you experience any adverse reactions, stop immediately and seek emergency medical help.
*Digestive enzymes containing amylase or other carbohydrate digesting enzymes may reduce the effectiveness of alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (for example, acarbose (Precose), miglitol [Glyset]), a class of oral anti-diabetes medications that are used to reduce the activity of the carbohydrate digesting enzymes. Be sure to consult your physician on any possible contraindications.
*The effectiveness of oral digestive enzymes may decrease when they are given with calcium or magnesium containing antacids. Avoid taking these at the same time so as not to waste your money and time.
*Oral digestive enzymes have not been adequately studied in pregnant women. Consult your doctor if you are pregnant or breast feeding prior to use.
MY TOP SUPPLEMENTATION RECOMMENDATION
Product Name: Dr. Mercola’s Full Spectrum Enzymes
My Overall Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: Full spectrum enzyme | Non-GMO | Includes ATP | Helps with Gluten and Dairy sensitivities | Helps support ketosis | Vegetarian friendly
Note: Dr. Mercola’s original digestive enzyme formula is consumerlab approved. These newer formulas have not yet been evaluated.
Cons: Not vegan friendly (i.e – contains ox bile)
Price: About $29.97 for a 30-day supply | $72.97 for a 90-day supply
Best Place to buy: Purchase via directly the Mercola website and save on bulk + free shipping on bulk (i.e the 90-day supply) + a 10% coupon when you become a member & save on subscribe/auto ship -> Full Spectrum Digestive Enzyme | Full Spectrum Digestive Enzyme For Women
Return Policy: Through mercola.com, their return policy for new members is a 30 day money back guarantee for non-consumables and a 90 day money back guarantee for consumables (better return policies for preferred members)
Dr. Mercola full Spectrum Enzymes product is a potent digestive enzyme supplement ideal for vegetarians and others who prefer enzymes from plants and other non-animal sources. This one-of-a-kind flagship digestive enzyme blend is scientifically formulated based on USDA data to contain a broad range of enzymes to help digest different types of food quickly.
*Is designed for what real people actually eat and includes an appropriate allowance for enzyme deficiencies and loss of enzymes due to age to ensure effective digestion without waste.
*Contains a total of 22 different digestive enzymes, including four special blends, to completely digest carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fibers and more.
*Works at a wide range of different pH throughout your digestive tract to cover various phases of digestion, helping to digest food rapidly and relieve occasional bloating, gas and intestinal discomfort.*
*Is designed for speed to break down food fast and reduce digestive discomfort.
*Includes adenosine-5’-triphosphate, or ATP (a signaling molecule – your bodies natural energy source responsible for cellular energy storage and transfer), that’s missing from processed and cooked foods to help initiate your digestive processes.
*Includes fruit enzymes derived from stem, and not the fruit itself to minimize allergies
*Are potent plant- , bacterial- and fungal-derived enzymes, instead of animal sources (except for Gallbladder Enzymes which contain ox bile)
*Contains no genetically engineered ingredients.
Best Time to Take It: It is suggested that you take an enzyme supplement BEFORE a meal – typically no more than 10 minutes before you eat.
CUSTOMER REVIEWS VIA AMAZON
If you suffer with occasional bloating, gas or other digestive concerns after eating, especially the foods you enjoy most, you’re not alone. More than half of the American population suffers with common digestive symptoms. Whether due to an allergy/sensitivity or just not efficiently refueling your enzyme stores – there are ways to help!
By focusing on certain eating habits and lifestyle changes and adding digestive enzymes that your body may be lacking, you may be able to help ease occasional complaints and more fully reap the benefits of the nutrients in your food. You can certainly eat your food and enjoy it’s benefits too!
If you have any questions, thoughts or want to share your experiences or knowledge about digestive enzymes, please comment below! 🙂