Top 12 Benefits of Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes are specialized proteins that play an important role in digestion. They are produced by a variety of digestive organs and glands, including the salivary glands, stomach, pancreas, and small intestine.
These enzymes work together to break down the complex food we eat into smaller, more easily absorbable molecules that the whole body produces and can use for energy, growth, and repair.
Prepare to be amazed by the benefits of molecules that maintain us every day. Let’s explore the world of digestive enzymes together and discover its secrets to find a way to optimal wellness. This exploration promises to be exciting and transforming, whether you’re looking for digestive relief, trying to optimize your nutrient intake, or simply being curious about the wonders of the human body.
Types of Digestive Enzymes
There are three main digestive enzymes, each responsible for breaking down specific types of nutrients:
Proteases: These enzymes break down proteins into smaller peptides and amino acids. Proteins are essential for building and repairing tissues in the body.
Lipases: Lipase breaks down fats (lipids) into fatty acids and glycerol. Fats are a concentrated source of energy and are also necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).
Amylases: Amylases break down carbohydrates, such as starches and sugars, into simpler sugars like glucose. Carbohydrates provide a primary source of energy for the body.
Digestive Enzyme’s Effect on Digestion
The process of digestion begins in the mouth when salivary amylase helps to digest carbohydrates while we chew. Once the food reaches the stomach, gastric juices, including proteases, start breaking down proteins. Then, the partly digested food moves into the small intestine, while the pancreas releases a mix of enzymes, including proteases, lipases, and amylases, to further break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, respectively.
The small intestine also produces its own digestive enzymes to complete the digestion process, which allows the nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to various parts of the body.
Digestive enzymes are essential to efficiently absorb nutrients and for an overall healthy digestive system. In some cases, individuals may have insufficient production of certain digestive enzymes, therefore, leading to digestive issues and malabsorption. In such situations, digestive enzyme supplements may sometimes be recommended to aid in the digestion of specific nutrients and relieve related symptoms. However, it’s crucial to use enzyme supplements under the guidance of a healthcare professional, as excessive or inappropriate usage may lead to unintended side effects or an allergic reaction.
Top 12 Benefits Of Digestive Enzymes
1.Improved Nutrient Absorption
Digestive enzymes help the body break down complex nutrients into simpler forms that the body can easily absorb. This enhances the uptake of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from our food. Nutrient absorption is complex, involving several different types of enzymes, as well as saliva, acid, bile, and other substances.
Nutrient absorption plays a crucial role in converting food into energy. When your body efficiently absorbs nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, it can produce more energy, reducing feelings of fatigue and increasing overall vitality.
Adequate nutrient absorption is especially important for children, teenagers, and pregnant women, as it supports proper growth, development, and fetal growth. Essential nutrients like calcium, iron, and vitamins are necessary for bone health, cognitive development, and overall growth.
Proper nutrient absorption will maximize the impact of any vitamins, supplements, or treatments you’re taking, saving you money and maybe allowing you to reduce the amount!
How to Improve Nutrient Absorption:
Increase Probiotic Bacteria in your Gut:
Regularly eating fermented foods (such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and kefir) and/or taking a probiotic pill might help the growth of “good” bacteria in your gut.
Combine the Correct Nutrients:
When some nutrients are combined, they act together to increase absorption. Certain vitamins are also better absorbed when combined with a fat source in your intestine.
Examples of ideal nutrient pairings, try pairing these foods together:
Leafy greens (like spinach, kale, etc.) with peppers or berries
Eggs with sweet potatoes or wilted greens
Olive oil with herbs and veggies
Avocado with kale or broccoli
Nuts/seeds with oranges, berries, or cherries
Beans and rice
Turmeric and black pepper
Chew your Food Thoroughly:
Chewing food thoroughly helps to release enzymes that are an essential part of digestion, therefore, making it easier for digestive enzymes to act on the smaller particles.
Stress can affect many areas of digestion, including affecting the number of hormones produced, changing blood flow to the GI tract, and interfering with hunger cravings. Engaging in stress-reducing activities like deep breathing or spending time in nature can be beneficial.
Consider Digestive Enzyme Supplements:
Taking digestive enzyme supplements will help your body absorb nutrients in many ways as well as in an efficient way.
If you have specific digestive issues or enzyme deficiencies, consult with a healthcare professional about taking digestive enzyme supplements to support digestion.
2. Decrease in Digestive Disorders
A decrease in digestive disorders can have numerous positive effects on your overall health and well-being. Digestive disorders can range from minor discomfort to more serious conditions, and reducing their occurrence or severity can lead to several benefits.
Digestive enzymes can be beneficial for individuals with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome(IBS), bloating, gas, and indigestion. They can assist in breaking down food particles, reducing the likelihood of uncomfortable digestive symptoms.
Certain digestive disorders, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), have been linked to an increased risk of other chronic conditions, including esophageal damage, ulcers, and colorectal cancer. Reducing these disorders can help lower the risk of developing associated complications.
Feeling discomfort or pain after meals can take a toll on your overall enjoyment of food and eating experiences. Decreasing digestive disorders can lead to a more pleasurable and relaxed relationship with food.
3. Enhanced Digestion of Lactose
Enhanced digestion of lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products, can bring about several benefits, particularly for individuals who are lactose intolerant or have difficulty digesting lactose.
Lactose intolerance occurs when the body lacks sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which is the digestive enzyme that digests lactose. Individuals with lactose intolerance can benefit from taking lactase enzymes before consuming dairy products.
Individuals with lactose intolerance often limit or avoid dairy products to prevent symptoms. Improved lactose digestion can allow for a larger range of dietary choices, including consuming dairy products without discomfort.
4. Support for Pancreatic Insufficiency
Digestive enzyme supplements can be helpful for individuals with pancreatic insufficiency, a condition in which the pancreas doesn’t produce enough enzymes to properly digest food. Pancreatic insufficiency often occurs in conditions like chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, or following pancreatic surgery.
The lack of enzymes can lead to malabsorption of nutrients, causing symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, gas, lack of an immune system, and weight loss. Digestive enzyme supplements can help alleviate these symptoms by providing the enzymes needed for proper digestion.
Alongside enzyme supplementation, maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for managing pancreatic insufficiency. Your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can help create a suitable meal plan.
To treat exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, doctors typically prescribe PERT (pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy). Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy involves taking pills that contain pancreatic enzymes. PERT can improve your symptoms and help you get enough nutrients from what you eat and drink. PERT is taken during meals or snacks to help your small intestine digest.
5. Gut Health Improvement
Digestive enzymes play a significant role in improving gut health by aiding in the digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food we eat. A well-functioning digestive system is essential for overall health and well-being, and digestive enzymes contribute to this in several ways.
Proper digestion supports a balanced gut microbiota by providing the necessary nutrients for beneficial gut bacteria to thrive. These bacteria play a crucial role in maintaining gut health, immune function, and even mental well-being.
6. Relief from Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Digestive enzymes can help optimize digestion and reduce the backflow of stomach acid in the digestive tract, which can contribute to heartburn and acid reflux.
Here’s how digestive enzymes might play a role in managing heartburn and acid reflux:
Protease Enzymes: Protease enzymes can assist in breaking down proteins in the stomach. In some cases, improper protein digestion can contribute to increased stomach pressure, which may push stomach acid up into the esophagus and lead to heartburn. Improved protein digestion could potentially reduce the likelihood of this occurring.
Lipase Enzymes: Lipase enzymes help break down fats. High-fat meals can delay stomach emptying and may contribute to acid reflux. Improved fat digestion could potentially help reduce the risk of acid reflux triggered by delayed stomach emptying.
Lactase Enzymes: If lactose intolerance is contributing to acid reflux symptoms, supplementing with lactase enzymes can help break down lactose in dairy products and alleviate associated discomfort.
Enzymes for Carbohydrate Digestion: Certain carbohydrate-digesting enzymes may help with the digestion of complex carbohydrates, potentially reducing the fermentation of undigested carbohydrates by gut bacteria, which can contribute to gas and bloating, and sometimes exacerbate acid reflux symptoms.
7. Enhanced Energy Levels
Efficient nutrient absorption ensures that the body receives the energy it needs from the food consumed, leading to improved overall energy levels.
Digestive enzymes primarily play a role in breaking down food into smaller, absorbable components, which can impact nutrient absorption and overall digestion. While there isn’t a direct link between digestive enzymes and enhanced energy levels in the sense of providing a sudden energy boost like caffeine would, there are indirect ways in which improved digestion can contribute to overall energy and well-being
Proper digestion and absorption of carbohydrates can contribute to more stable blood sugar levels. This can help prevent energy crashes and maintain a steady supply of energy throughout the day.
Improved nutrient absorption ensures that your body receives essential vitamins and minerals needed for energy production and overall vitality. For example, B vitamins are crucial for converting food into energy, and digestive enzymes can aid in their absorption.
8. Support for Weight Management
Better nutrient absorption may help reduce food cravings, leading to better appetite control and potentially supporting weight management efforts.
Lipase is a digestive enzyme that helps your body absorb fat by breaking it down into glycerol and free fatty acids.
Using lipase supplements may help you feel less full. For example, one study of 16 adults, discovered that those who took a lipase supplement before ingesting a high-fat meal had considerably lower stomach fullness after 1 hour when compared to a control group.
9. Alleviation of Constipation
Digestive enzymes can contribute to smoother digestion and bowel movements, thus reducing the occurrence of constipation.
Some digestive enzymes, such as those that break down fats and fibers, can potentially contribute to softer stools. This can make it easier for stools to pass through the intestines and help alleviate constipation.
Digestive enzymes may help reduce bloating, gas, and discomfort that can contribute to constipation.
While digestive enzymes primarily assist in breaking down food, some enzymes indirectly influence gut motility and transit time. Improved digestion and reduced bloating can contribute to a more regular bowel movement pattern.
10. Anti-inflammatory Effects
Some digestive enzymes, such as proteases, have been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, potentially helping with health conditions often related to inflammation in the digestive system.
Proper digestion helps prevent undigested food particles from entering the bloodstream, which could trigger an immune response and inflammation. Improved digestion may reduce the likelihood of gut irritation and inflammation.
Improved Immune Function
While the primary role of digestive enzymes is to facilitate the breakdown and absorption of nutrients from the food we eat, there is evidence to suggest that optimizing digestion and nutrient absorption through digestive enzymes could potentially have certain indirect effects on immune function.
Nutrient Support for Immune Cells: Proper digestion and absorption of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, are essential for the normal functioning of immune cells. Nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and others play key roles in supporting immune function.
Gut-Immune System Connection: A significant portion of the immune system is located in the gut, and a balanced gut microbiota is crucial for immune health. Digestive enzymes may contribute to a healthy gut environment, which in turn can influence immune function.
Reduced Gut Inflammation: Efficient digestion can help prevent undigested food particles and potential irritants from entering the bloodstream. This may reduce the risk of immune responses and inflammation triggered by these substances.
Stress Reduction on the Digestive System: Improved digestion through enzyme supplementation may reduce stress on the digestive system, potentially freeing up resources for other bodily functions, including immune responses.
Overall Digestive Support
Digestive enzymes assist in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, offering comprehensive support for the entire digestive process.
Improving digestive enzymes can enhance your overall digestion, good gut bacteria and increase nutrient absorption and prevent nutrient deficiencies.
Here are some additional ways to achieve this:
Consume a Balanced Diet:
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins provides essential nutrients that support enzyme production and function.
Drinking an adequate amount of water helps maintain optimal enzyme function and overall digestive health.
Consider Enzyme-rich Foods
Pineapple and papaya are rich in bromelain and papain, respectively, which are natural enzymes that can aid digestion.
Add Spices to Your Meals
Spices like ginger, turmeric, and peppermint can stimulate enzyme secretion and promote better digestion.
Overloading your digestive system can strain enzyme production and lead to digestive discomfort. Practice portion control and eat smaller, more frequent meals if necessary.
Limit Processed Foods
Processed foods are often low in natural enzymes and high in preservatives, additives, and unhealthy fats, which can negatively impact digestion.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise promotes better blood flow and may positively influence enzyme secretion and digestion.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
Excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption can disrupt enzyme function and lead to digestive problems.
Smoking can harm the digestive system and reduce enzyme production. Quitting smoking can have significant benefits for digestion and overall health.
Diseases Caused by Digestive Enzyme Deficiencies
Digestive enzyme deficiencies can lead to various health issues and digestive disorders due to inadequate breakdown of nutrients to digest food. Digestive enzyme supplementation can reduce symptoms of digestive and kidney diseases that occur when digestive enzymes are deficient. Diseases that can be caused or worsened by digestive enzyme deficiencies include:
Lactase deficiency, which impairs the breakdown of lactose (milk sugar), leads to food intolerance. This condition can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort after consuming dairy products.
Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, producing insufficient digestive enzymes. This condition can cause severe abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and impaired digestion.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by the consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It can damage the lining of the small intestine and affect the production of digestive enzymes, leading to malabsorption of nutrients and various digestive symptoms.
Bile acid malabsorption:
Bile acids aid in the digestion and absorption of fats. When there is insufficient bile acid reabsorption in the intestine, it can lead to diarrhea and malabsorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO):
SIBO occurs when there is an abnormal increase in the number of bacteria in the small intestine. It can interfere with the normal function of digestive enzymes, leading to gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
Inflammation of the stomach lining can affect the production and release of digestive enzymes, leading to impaired digestion and discomfort.
Tropical sprue is a digestive disorder primarily affecting individuals in tropical regions. It can damage the small intestine’s lining and result in malabsorption of nutrients due to enzyme deficiencies.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects the production and function of various secretions, including digestive enzymes. It can lead to EPI and malabsorption issues.
Chronic inflammation of the pancreas can cause long-term damage to the organ. This damage can affect its ability to produce digestive enzymes and leads to digestive problems.
Ulcerative Colitis (UC):
is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that primarily affects the colon (large intestine) and the rectum. It is characterized by inflammation and the development of ulcers or sores in the inner lining of the colon, leading to various gastrointestinal symptoms and complications.
Suggested Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Plant-based proteins, like those from tofu, tempeh, and seitan, may require more effort to digest than animal-based proteins. Protease enzymes in supplements can assist in breaking down plant-based proteins into amino acids, facilitating better absorption and utilization by the body.
Vegans rely on plant sources for essential nutrients like iron, calcium, and zinc. However, some plant compounds, such as phytates, can bind to minerals and reduce their absorption. Digestive enzymes can help break down phytates and improve the availability of these important nutrients. Therefore, highlighting the importance of taking digestive enzymes as a supplement.
Digestive Enzymes with Makzyme-Pro® Blend
The Well of Life’s Digestive Enzymes with Makzyme-Pro® Blend is a combination of enzymes and probiotics. It supports digestive health and ensures nutrients are delivered to the body. This natural digestive enzyme supplement helps take stress off the digestive organs. Therefore, freeing up energy and decreasing digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, or occasional diarrhea or constipation. This all makes our supplement great for gut health and nutrient absorption.
In conclusion, digestive enzymes play a crucial role in ensuring our bodies can efficiently break down the food we eat into smaller, absorbable nutrients. As we’ve explored, these enzymes offer a wide range of benefits for our digestive health and overall well-being.
To fully harness the benefits of digestive enzymes, consider enzyme-rich foods, practice mindful eating habits, and maintain a balanced diet. For those with specific digestive concerns or enzyme deficiencies, enzyme supplements, under professional guidance, can offer valuable support.
Remember, individual digestive health varies, and it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and recommendations. By nurturing our digestive system, we can promote better digestion, overall health, and a greater sense of well-being. Here’s to embracing the power of digestive enzymes for a happier, healthier life!