The lack of digestive enzymes in your diet can be the cause of a number of digestive health problems including allergies, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), IBD/flexirubin syndrome, celiac disease, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. The function of digestive enzymes is mainly to catalyze specific, important chemical reactions in your body. In essence, they help break large macromolecular molecules found in your food down into much smaller ones which your stomach is capable of processing, thus ensuring the nutrients are sent directly to the rest of your body and supporting digestive health.
Break down the proteins and fatty acids
Digestive enzymes are important to your health because they break down the proteins and fatty acids (which are part of the protein chains in plant and animal foods like meat, fish, legumes, nuts and eggs) in your foods like cereals, breads, potatoes, rice and pasta. These digestive enzymes are naturally present in your intestines and your mouth. However, if you take gluten, wheat, and dairy products or consume large amounts of alcohol, caffeine, and sugar, the enzyme activity in your intestines is disrupted. This leads to an increased production of digestive byproducts including ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, two of the components of gastric acids. This can result in inflammation, bloating, mucus accumulation, and diarrhea in people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, and other digestive diseases.
For example, one of the main enzymes involved in intestinal lining cell turnover is papain. Papain is derived from papaya fruit and converts into glucose, releasing it as a food for your blood cells to use as energy. If you’re suffering from constipation, gas, bloating, or excess flatulence, chances are you’ve eaten too much processed papaya juice or taken supplements that contain the chemical for papain (naturally occurring). In this case, the enzyme papain is interfering with another enzyme, bromelain, which prevents the release of glucose for energy.
Bromelain is a very important enzyme for IBS, and it’s not produced in plants (it needs to be extracted from pineapple and grapefruits), so if you’ve found that you’re losing your bowel movements because of an overproduction of digestive byproducts, or if you’ve been taking medications that interfere with the absorption of nutrients (for instance, antibiotics, some cancer drugs), it’s likely that you’ve been consuming large amounts of processed foods that have contained bromelain or other digestive enzymes.
The second major category involves amino acids. The digestive enzymes associated with amino acids are not directly affected by the types of foods you eat, but they can be affected by the way you digest the foods you eat. Dehydration, poor muscle tone, constipation, and bloating are all symptoms that occur when the digestive enzymes responsible for amino acids are compromised, so it stands to reason that most people would benefit by increasing their intake of fresh vegetables and fruits and cutting out simple sugars (such as table sugar) and processed carbohydrates.
Last, but certainly not least, are the enzymes affecting your pancreatic enzymes. When you eat foods like beans and whole grains, or when you exercise, your body releases a concoction of digestive enzymes, some of which are pancreatic enzymes and some of which are intestinal pancreatic enzymes. These pancreatic enzymes belong to the cyst form, and they are responsible for the food digestion process. As the cyst form decreases, your body is able to absorb more fat and protein.
If you’ve ever had heartburn, or digestive pain, or tried to treat your acid reflux by drinking only water, or only eating apples, you probably realized that there are underlying causes involved. To combat acid reflux and other digestive problems, you need to understand why the enzyme levels in your body are insufficient.
You can get help from your doctor, by taking a course of antibiotics, or by increasing your nutrient intake through diet. By switching to a healthy diet that provides the right amounts of fat, protein and fiber, you’ll give your body the best opportunity to develop the pancreatic and cyst enzymes that it needs. Remember, however, that supplements can only do so much to increase the levels of these important enzymes; you need to nourish your body from the inside out, with natural foods like fruits and vegetables and other natural food sources.