Benefits of Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Should You Take Digestive Enzyme Supplements?
If you are suffering from symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, gas, irregularity, or heartburn, you may have an enzyme deficiency. The deeper cause is dependent upon each person's individual circumstances, but digestive enzyme supplements may specifically alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms. They can also help you with other non-digestive related problems such as lack of energy.
You can support your health and beauty by obtaining enough digestive enzymes to help your body function efficiently. That includes:
- Eating as many raw vegetables and fruits as possible.
- Chewing food slowly to ensure enzymes will be released—yes, there are enzymes in your mouth!
- Eating foods that are high in probiotics and enzymes, such as raw sauerkraut.
- Taking a high-quality, vegetable-based digestive enzyme supplement.
The Role of Enzymes in the Body
To fully understand the benefits of digestive enzyme supplements, you need to understand what exactly enzymes do in your body.
There are many different types of enzymes, so I will give you a quick biology tutorial that focuses on the digestive enzymes. For more in-depth information, read Dr. Barbara Bradley Bolen's discussion.
- Enzymes are important proteins in your cells. They are catalysts that help speed up every chemical reaction in your body. Without them, you would not be able to breathe, swallow, eat, or digest food.
- All of the vitamins and minerals you eat and all of the hormones your body produces need enzymes to work properly. That means your energy level, your ability to utilize vitamins and minerals, and even your immune system are dependent on enzymes.
- Food contains natural enzymes, which can be fully obtained if eaten raw.
- Enzymes are classified into three categories: digestive, food, and metabolic.
- Metabolic enzymes occur throughout your organs, and your digestive organs produce digestive enzymes.
Let's focus on the two enzymes that are associated with our digestive system, which have one major function—to help digest food!
How Enzymes Aid Digestion
In a perfect body, you would slowly chew enzyme-rich foods, such as raw vegetables and fruits. The food would enter the stomach, laced with digestive enzymes that help to "predigest" your food. The enzymes help break down the food and move nutrients to where your body needs them the most.
Hydrochloric acid then inactivates all of the enzymes and starts to break down the rest of the meal. This nutrient-rich food concentrate continues into the small intestine, where it is broken down further by more digestive enzymes. The end of digestion is completed when nutrients are passed through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream.
Unfortunately, our body isn't perfect, and there are factors that affect this process!
- As we age, we lose some of our "enzyme reserves." One of the reasons may be a lifestyle problem associated with poor diet.
- When food is cooked at a temperature of 120 degrees or higher, it destroys virtually all of the food's naturally occurring enzymes.
The majority of us eat foods that are cooked, such as sauteed vegetables and boiled potatoes. We may try our best to eat raw salads and fresh fruit smoothies, but realistically most of our foods are cooked at high temperatures. This means that even the vibrant and colorful vegetables we eat become severely deficient in those important enzymes.
This is where digestive enzyme supplements come in. By taking a supplement before each meal, you are replacing some of those lost enzymes.
Benefits of Digestive Enzymes Supplements
- Relief from ulcers
- Relief from gas and bloating
- Alleviation of food allergies
- Decreased indigestion and heartburn caused by too much acid in the stomach
- Increased energy levels from your body's reduced effort of digestion
Beauty Starts Within!
Kimberly Snyder, a nutritionist and author of “The Beauty Detox Solution,” also advocates taking one digestive enzyme a day before eating cooked food, in addition to drinking a Glowing Green Smoothie daily. “Enzymes are one of the secrets to longevity,” she mentions on her health blog.
Still Not Convinced? Try This Experiment!
There is an easy experiment you can do to see the benefit of enzyme supplements for yourself!
- Prepare two bowls of instant oatmeal.
- Crush 2-3 digestive enzyme capsules into one of the bowls.
- Wait about 30 minutes.
The bowl with the digestive enzyme will look watery, while the untreated bowl will still look lumpy and sticky. The concept shown here is that the oatmeal with the enzyme has been "predigested" and would have an easier time getting through your system, reducing the stress and effort of your digestive organs.
What to Look for When Buying Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzyme supplements are typically sold as pills. I recommend buying a vegetable-based supplement that contains all the enzymes listed in the table below.
These aren't the same enzymes that humans produce during normal digestion. However, many of them serve similar functions. They act as a predigesting tool that helps you digest food more efficiently.
Aids Digestion of
Carbohydrates and Starches
Warning: Please be cognizant of popular but unsupported claims on the internet. Digestive enzyme supplements should not be used as a weight loss tool.