Enzymes are a vital part of digestive health. We take a look at the role they play.
Aregular, well-functioning digestive system is vital to good health. Without proper digestion, our bodies struggle to receive the nutrients they need from our food and we are left feeling sluggish and tired. Also, toxins begin to accumulate in our bodies, leading to poor health and disease. In this article we will take a look at some supplements to help support the digestive process.
Digestive enzymes are complex proteins involved in the process of digestion, which are needed for every single chemical action that takes place in the body. Enzymes are produced both internally (most notably in the pancreas and the other endocrine glands) and are also ingested by us through the raw or lightly cooked foods we eat. However, as a result of modern farming methods and food preparation, we are no longer obtaining the right amount of enzymes from our food. Furthermore, the ageing process depletes the body of its store of digestive enzymes. There are two ways to preserve and replenish our enzyme level: by eating living foods and food supplements and taking enzyme supplements.
Here are some examples of important digestive enzymes, and the roles they play in our health:
Amylase is a digestive enzyme which is secreted by the salivary and pancreatic glands. It breaks down carbohydrates into a form that can be used by the body for energy. As a result of poor dietary habits and ageing, many people become deficient in amylase, the symptoms of which can include allergies, excess gas, constipation and general digestive upset. Low levels of amylase are also thought to lead to a variety of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, blood sugar imbalances, hypoglycemia and food sensitivities.
This digestive enzyme is found in the gastric and pancreatic juices. It breaks down proteins into amino acids called peptides, which can be absorbed through the intestinal wall. Protease also helps to digest the cell walls of unwanted harmful organisms in the body as well as breaking down toxins, cellular debris and undigested proteins. This helps our immune system by avoiding an overload of toxins. Protease has been found to help with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, stomach ulcers and helps to promote beneficial gut bacteria.
Lipase is mainly produced in the pancreas but is also found in the mouth and stomach. It is needed to break down fats, also known as lipids, into glycerol and fatty acids. Lipase helps to maintain our pancreatic enzymes at optimal levels as we age. Research also shows that it may help people with coeliac disease, may improve indigestion, helps to improve immune function and aids fat digestion and weight control.
Lactase is produced by the cells lining the small intestines. It is needed to break down lactose, the main sugar found in milk. Most individuals are born producing it, but often make less of it as they age, which can cause lactose intolerance.
Cellulase is an enzyme that is needed to break down cellulose into glucose so that it can be used by the body for energy. Cellulose is a polysaccharide fibre found in the majority of raw foods, especially raw vegetables. Our bodies do not produce cellulase, which is why we need to take it in supplement form in order to ensure that we can properly digest foods containing cellulose. Without cellulase we can experience symptoms such as bloating, excessive gas and abdominal pain.
Foods such as beans and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are notorious for causing excess gas and bloating.
The abovementioned foods contain carbohydrates which are linked to proteins or fats (known as glycoproteins or glycolipids) which aren’t properly digested in the gut. These badly-digested particles are then fermented by intestinal bacteria, which produce gas, leaving us feeling bloated and uncomfortable. The enzyme alpha galactosidase stops this process. Alpha galactosidase is produced in the mouth and pancreas, but the amount we produce decreases with age. A deficiency of this enzyme can lead to indigestion, excess gas and Candida overgrowth.
This is an enzyme which digests carbohydrates, converting sucrose into glucose and fructose. It enhances the overall digestion of starch, sugar and other carbohydrates. As our body ages, we have less access to invertase, which reduces our ability to extract the essential nutrients from the food we eat. This enzyme is
most often found in bee pollen and yeast sources. It has a number of antioxidant properties and is a natural immune booster. It also helps to reduce stomach toxicity and offers natural respiratory support.
This enzyme is generally found in fruits such as bananas and apples. It breaks down pectin, a polysaccharide found in plant cell walls. Along with cellulase, pectinase assists with the digestion of plant-based foods, increasing their nutritional and prebiotic worth. Pectinase has been shown to promote the growth and health of intestinal microbiota and provides fuel for the lining of the colon.
Glucoamylase helps to break down starch that is naturally found in most vegetables and also in foods such as potatoes, corn, rice and wheat. It is produced in the mouth and pancreas. Glucoamylase breaks down these starches into glucose, which is absorbable and usable. By taking the load off the digestive process, it helps to reduce a number of digestive problems such as excess gas, bloating and fatigue. It has been shown to help ease the symptoms of IBS and may help to reduce food allergies.
Inulin is a natural form of soluble dietary fibre which is derived from chicory root. It is also found in a number of fruits and vegetables. Inulin has a number of health benefits, but the main one is supporting digestive health. It is known as a ‘prebiotic’ because it increases the activity of the beneficial bacteria in the gut, by acting as a ‘food’ for the good bacteria in your digestive system. Inulin therefore helps to promote digestive health and prevents the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut.
This is a newly formulated professional strength enzyme complex combining the power of eight digestive enzymes with Fruta-Fit® Inulin to create a powerhouse of digestive support. Contains the Lactase enzyme which improves lactose digestion in individuals who have difficulty digesting lactose.