As we age our body does not produce as many digestive enzymes in the pancreas. These enzymes help in the assimilation of the food we ingest. Because of this slowing down of enzyme production it is wise to add a digestive enzyme to your supplementation. I have been taking digestive enzymes for at least 17 years now and I know they make a difference.
Most people who aren’t taking any kind of supplemental digestive enzyme at mealtime are probably deficient in enzymes. Our current modern diet is missing this key nutrient. With the processing of food, overcooking, and pasteurization most packaged food is stripped of the enzymes.
Raw fruit and veggies contain enzymes naturally. These enzymes help the body break down our food into the nutrients in food….these nutrients being broken down into macronutrients – fat, carbohydrates and proteins. Unfortunately the majority of the population is not getting enough nutrition from their food because they are not eating enough organic, raw, fresh food.
Most people are suffering from this enzyme deficiency on a daily basis and end up walking around with gas, bloating, indigestion or heartburn, nausea and general abdominal discomfort. And what do they do to relieve this? Of course they reach for an antacid. That is a short term symptom fix but certainly does not get to the root of the problem.
Other things that can stem from this lack of digestive enzymes are conditions with your skin such as acne, eczema and rashes. You can experience brain fog, irritability and some even get regular headaches. Many people also get joint pain and think it is arthritis when really, it is enzyme deficiency not allowing your body to break down your food properly to nourish all of the different body functions. Lactose intolerance is a good example of digestive enzyme deficiency. This happens when the intestines lack the enzyme lactase which helps to break down milks and sugars.
I take digestive enzymes before every meal and never, never, never end up with indigestion or heartburn. As I mentioned, I have been taking enzymes for a very long time as suggested to me by my very first natural nutritionist way back when I started on this health journey. I know the enzymes are helping.
The best way to know whether you are needing to supplement with enzymes is through a stool test but that is something not regularly ordered by your doctor. Other symptoms you may make note of are, as mentioned earlier, gas and bloating after you eat a meal, a heavy feeling in your stomach long after eating a meal, feeling full after only eating just a few bites of food, undigested food in your stool, floating stool (not just an occasional piece but frequent floaters), and an oil slick in the toilet indicating undigested fat. (sorry to be so descriptive but these are signs to watch for)
There are many different kinds of digestive enzymes available today. I suggest going to a health food store and getting help to pick out the best supplement you can afford for your specific issues. Avoid fillers like magnesium stearate in the supplements. Don’t buy cheap supplements as they are made from inferior materials and usually don’t have enough goodness in them to make a difference.
Digestive enzymes come from different sources. Fruit enzymes from the pineapple or papaya are good for some but tend to be on the weaker side. Animal sourced enzymes listed as pancreatin are obviously not suitable for vegetarians or vegans such as myself. Plant sourced enzymes are what I use. They come from fungus, are very stable, hold up well in digestion and help with all three of the macronutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fats.
There are multi-enzyme products which most of us would benefit from. You want one that has protease for breaking down protein, lipase for breaking down fats and amylase for breaking down carbohydrates. Make sure you get in the habit of taking your enzymes within 30 minutes of each meal to reap the benefits. And it is a daily practice. You must be compliant in order to feel the difference.
As I said, when you first start out with enzymes, it can be confusing because there are so many out there. My only words of advice here is “don’t go cheap” and “ask for help at your local health food store”.