What You Need To Know About Digestive Enzymes

Have you ever wondered how the macronutrients in food – fats, carbohydrates and proteins – get where they need to be in your body? This is where digestive enzymes come into play: they move macronutrients, vitamins and minerals out of the digestive tract and into the bloodstream where they participate in functions such as growth and repair. If the body is deficient in these enzymes (due to genetics, illness, or food allergy), food cannot be properly digested.

What you need to know about your digestive Enzymes:

  • Proteases break down protein into amino acids and peptides.
  • Lipases break down fat into three types of fatty acids.
  • Amylases break down carbohydrates into simple sugars.

Other enzymes target specific sugars:

  • Lactase breaks down the sugar in milk.
  • Maltase moves maltose, which is produced from starch, and converts it into glucose that the body uses for quick energy.
  • Sucrase works on sucrose and converts it into other sugar molecules.

Deficiencies in digestive enzymes often result in gastrointestinal distress, belly discomfort, and food intolerances after eating food that contains a starch, fat, or protein the body cannot break down. For example, if you’re deficient in lactase, you’ll feel ill (bloating, cramps, gas) after eating dairy products. These can seem like hard to diagnose stomach problems. Deficiency of these enzyme leading to gastrointestinal distress may also lead to anxiety and other mental and emotional issues.

Digestive enzymes are naturally present in many foods. Pineapple and papaya are rich in proteases and can help ease symptoms of IBS. Mango and banana contain enzymes that break down starches. Other excellent sources of digestive enzymes include kefir, sauerkraut, honey and ginger and other cultured foods for health. To reap the benefits, eat these foods at their peak freshness and chew mindfully as saliva activates many enzymes. Eat fruits raw as heating destroys the enzymes.

When treating digestive dysfunction, food allergy or sensitivity, a naturopathic doctor may recommend dietary changes and probiotics along with enzymes in pill form. Many factors influence how you should take these enzymes (before, during, or after a meal). Your alternative doctor can help determine how these digestive problem solutions can best support your journey of health.

References
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Journey of Health Medical Clinic

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