Everyone has experienced stomach discomfort in some form or another. Whether that be bloating, gas, acid reflux, or other uncomfortable ailments, poor digestion may be the cause. There are many reasons one may experience reduced digestive ability. One of the most overlooked causes of poor digestion, even though it is frequently the instigator, is a lack of digestive enzymes.
Enzymes in the general sense are critical for healthy bodily function. All enzymes act as catalysts to promote and aid in various biochemical reactions. Specifically, digestive enzymes support the body by improving and optimizing digestion. Those who are deficient in digestive enzymes quickly experience malfunction in many areas. Understanding the importance of digestive enzymes, the symptoms and conditions associated with them, and the significant benefits that come with optimizing enzyme levels can help one overcome a slew of gastrointestinal woes and discomfort.
The Digestive Enzyme Breakdown
Enzymes are categorized into various groups, which indicate their primary function. For example, digestive enzymes are necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. These small proteins are so integral to the digestive process that we would be unable to acquire any nutrients out of the foods we eat if they weren’t present.
Enzymes present in the duodenum, the primary and smallest section of the small intestine, break down larger food molecules. The remainder of these cleaved molecules are carried into the bloodstream, which boosts metabolic function and improves nutrient absorption. Large molecules that are not broken down in the duodenum will likely be deconstructed by stomach acid and ultimately end up in the bloodstream as well. However, if one has malfunctioning enzymes or has an enzyme deficiency they are likely to experience ineffective or dysfunctional digestion.
Why Are Digestive Enzymes Important?
Poor enzymatic function is a notable cause of malnutrition. Even if one is consuming a healthy balance of foods and following an appropriate diet plan, they may not be acquiring the nutrients they need. Without the assistance of digestive enzymes, the small intestine is unable to break down large macronutrients including fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. If these substances are not broken down into their more easily absorbed and usable forms (absorbable fats, amino acids, and smaller sugars) the body is unable to effectively use the nutrients locked inside larger food particles.
If one is lacking specific enzymes, they may become intolerant to different foods and substances. For example, those with insufficient lactase are unable to properly digest lactose, found in milk, making them intolerant to dairy products and other foods containing lactose.
Digestive enzymes are needed to break down food into amino acids, cholesterol, simple sugars, and nucleic acid (used in building DNA). These substances are used throughout the body. Therefore, digestive enzymes play an important role in overall bodily function. They are also an important protector of digestive function. When undigested food reaches the large intestine, it becomes fuel for harmful bacteria that can result in dysbiosis. Overabundance of harmful bacteria in the gut and colon can lead to serious conditions and symptoms including: bloating, nausea, fatigue, chronic intestine infection and others.
Who’s Doing What Where?
The bulk of the body’s enzymes are produced in the pancreas. As one begins eating, the pancreas is notified via hormones to release pancreatic juice into the small intestine. The enzymes contained in this substance go to work and help break down larger food particles into absorbable and usable molecules.
As mentioned previously, there are several categories of enzymes. The following list contains a small selection of digestive enzymes that facilitate a specific function or aid in different bodily systems throughout the body.
- Aminopeptidases: breaks down peptide into amino acids
- Amylase: converts carbohydrates into simple sugars
- Cellulose: critical in breaking down dietary fiber
- Cholecystokinin: supports protein and fat digestion
- Chymotrypsin and Trypsin: converts proteins to amino acids
- Lactase: converts lactose into usable glucose
- Lipase: needed for digesting fats and converting triglycerides in fatty acids and glycerol
- Maltase: converts complex sugars such as maltose into glucose
- Nucleases: converts nucleic acid to nucleotides and nucleosides
- Phytase: important for overall digestion and improves extraction and utilization of B
- Phospholipase: supports conversion of phospholipids into fatty acids
- Protease: needed for protein digestion
- Sucrase: converts sucrose into disaccharides and monosaccharides which allows for easier digestion of sugar
This group of difficult to pronounce substances may seem daunting. Truly, the primary takeaway from this list is that enzymes breakdown difficult or impossible to use molecules into easy to use resources. The result of enzymatic action is smaller components that can be effectively absorbed or utilized by the rest of the body. Essentially, enzymes increase bodily function by making it easier to acquire energy and reduces the amount of energy needed to do so.
Because enzymes are so closely related to various bodily functions, optimizing enzyme levels and function can benefit numerous areas including:
- Energy production
- Removal of toxins
- Better oxygen usage
- Dissolving blood clots
- Hormone regulation
- Reducing the impact of aging
- Combatting infection
- Improved healing
- Reduced inflammation
Increasing enzyme levels may seem difficult, but it has been made easier throughout the years. One method of improving enzyme prevalence and function is by using a quality digestive enzyme supplement.
Supporting the Body Through Enzyme Supplementation
Many are not familiar with the significant impact that enzymes have on the body. Therefore, supplementation may not be an obvious solution to one’s digestive difficulties. However, in recent years, the number of people taking digestive enzyme supplements has increased.
Individuals frequently turn to enzyme supplements to treat various digestive conditions such as bloating, leaky gut syndrome, IBS, ulcerative colitis, malabsorption and others. Incorporating digestive enzymes into one’s supplement plan can help reduce the demand on the stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, and small intestine. Relieving these systems can reduce the occurrence of painful, and potentially serious gastrointestinal problems.
Those with reduced stomach acid levels, also known as hypochlorhydria, may also benefit significantly from enzyme supplementation. Lack of acid can cause biochemical triggers to be missed, resulting in poor absorption and ineffective breakdown of foods. Individuals with this condition frequently have difficulty maintaining healthy levels of various vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Improving digestive enzyme levels and function may resolve hypochlorhydria -related deficiencies.
Effective supplementation requires high quality ingredients and appropriate formulation. HoltraCeuticals digestive enzyme, Digestizyme-B, contains a collection of exceptionally powerful digestion restoring enzymes. Two of these enzymes, betaine and pepsin, are noted for their ability to resolve or reduce the symptoms of GERD and low stomach acid. This pair of enzymes helps reduce stomach acid PH which promotes absorption of important nutrients such as B12, iron, calcium, and others. Supporting the body through healthy enzyme supplementation can improve gastrointestinal function and have a rippling impact of improved function elsewhere in the body.