The Supplement That May Help Your Digestive Issues
Digestive enzymes are proteins that are normally produced by the pancreas and then delivered to the saliva, the stomach, and the intestines. These enzymes work to break down the nutrients in the food we eat so that they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. The enzymes are classified based on what types of nutrients they break down (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, or nucleic acids). Without digestive enzymes, the body can’t break down or digest food. Because of the importance of these enzymes, the body has multiple systems for producing and maintaining them, but deficiencies can still occur.
If you have insufficient digestive enzymes, you may experience gas, bloating, feeling full after only a few bites of food, and abnormal stools. More serious symptoms can include weight loss, anemia, malnutrition, or signs of vitamin deficiency. If you have these symptoms, you may want to try changing your diet, as well. Start by avoiding fried or greasy foods, excessive coffee or alcohol, high amounts of sugar, and processed foods with preservatives and additives. Raw foods, or foods that are lightly cooked, can be easier to digest. Depending on your body, you may need to tailor your diet and supplement regime to fit your needs, and possibly change them over time. If you’re following a high fiber diet (such as a vegetarian or vegan plan), digestive enzymes can help with the occasional flatulence without a dramatic diet change.
There is controversy in the medical field about whether digestive enzymes are beneficial for everyone, but there are certain situations where the benefits of supplements are recognized:
1. Your body is under stress. If your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, food digestion temporarily goes to the back burner. This can be emotional stress affecting your body, or some sort of gastrointestinal illness causing physical stress.
2. Your intestines are damaged. The intestinal lining can be damaged by diseases like Celiac or Crohn’s, or drug use (either illegal or legal).