What are Enzymes?
Enzymes are catalysts of chemical reactions. This
means that they initiate and increase the rate of one or several body
processes. Without enzymes, reactions in the body would take place too
slowly to maintain life. Digestive enzymes are responsible for breaking
down food particles so that they can be absorbed in the intestinal tract and
either used for energy or stored for later use.
There are three main categories of digestive enzymes, amylase, protease and
lipase. Amylase enzymes digest sugars, for example, like milk sugar is
digested by lactase and cane sugar by sucrase. Amylase is found in saliva,
pancreatic juice and intestinal juice. Proteases are responsible for
breaking down protein. It is found in intestinal and pancreatic juice.
Lipases digest fat and are released in the stomach and intestines.
Don't I Get Enzymes From My Food?
Enzymes naturally occur in all raw foods. When referring to the
“ripeness” of a food we are talking about its readiness to be eaten. Ripe
foods are most abundant in enzymes that are used for digestion. Rancid
foods are already being digested by the naturally occurring enzymes.
Unfortunately enzymes are destroyed by the cooking and processing of foods.
This means that most of the foods the average person consumes are deficient
in enzymes. The body must do all of the work to digest the food or, more
commonly, foods are improperly digested. The term “leaky gut” is used to
describe undigested protein particles that get into the bloodstream and
cause allergic reactions. This is one reason why digestive enzyme
supplements can improve lots of health complaints. They are widely
recommended by natural health practitioners for indigestion, gas, bloating,
arthritis, autoimmune disorders, food allergies and skin conditions.
You Can Support Digestive Health By:
Eating several small meals daily instead of three large meals.
Avoiding fluids with meals.
Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Avoiding refined, processed foods.
Not overeating; eat until 80% full.
Taking a HCL supplement before meals.
digestive enzyme during or after meals.
The intestine is the main
absorptive area of the digestive tract. It is essentially a tube with a
thin mucosal lining and lots of blood vessels on the inside and muscles
around the outside. It has its own immune tissue called GALT, or gut
associated lymphoid tissue. The inner lining is filled with little fingers,
or projection of the mucosa, which greatly increases its absorptive surface.
Lying on the membrane are many friendly organisms, which help our body with
the digestive process. The small intestine attaches to the stomach. Near
it’s beginning, ducts from the liver and pancreas release digestive juices.
These juices mix with the partially digested food from the stomach and
continue the digestive process. Nutrients are absorbed through the thin
intestinal wall and transported via the bloodstream, to where they are
needed. The liver also excretes processed toxins and fats through the
bile. These substances must be carried through the intestine without being
The remainder of the food is pushed through into the large intestine. The
main function of the large intestine is the preparation of stool for
excretion. In order to do this the digested food must be dehydrated and
compacted. The last bit of nutrients may also be absorbed here.
Some of the most important players in intestinal health are not part of our
own body. Friendly intestinal bacteria, often called probiotics, are an
essential part of digestion. They break down food particles, manufacture
vitamins and prevent the infection of the tract with other microbes. Each
bowel movement actually contains millions of these friendly bacteria; they
are in a constant state of renewal. Many concerns like
gas, bloating and constipation can be due to an imbalance of the
intestinal bacteria. It is easy to upset this balance by improper diet or
taking medications like antibiotics.