Today I’m going to address the topic of digestive enzymes. About half of the population of America suffers from digestive problems of some sort, whether it’s bloating, constipation, irritable bowels, gas etc. Keep in mind, that as humans, we’re the only animals that consume cooked and processed food; apart from a few animals we keep as pets (dogs and cats for instance). Digestive problems don’t just end with the issues I raised above, further down the line they have the potential to develop into very serious chronic illnesses. It’s extremely important to keep in mind that we eat food but our bodies don’t absorb food, our bodies absorb the nutrients from those foods that we consume. That being said, if we eat chicken, our body will break that food down into amino acids which will contribute to strengthening and repairing our muscle tissue. If we eat an apple, our body will break that down into simple sugars, which will provide us with a quick burst of energy. Hopefully you’re starting to get the jist by now.
So, if we don’t have enough digestive enzymes to go to work on breaking down the food so we can absorb the nutrients, we will become malnourished, weak, lacking in energy etc.
There are three categories of digestive enzymes:
Amylase: this is the digestive enzyme responsible for the breakdown of carbohydrates. Amylase can be located in the pancreas, intestines as well as within our saliva (yes, the digestive process begins in the mouth).
Protease: As you can probably guess from the name, is responsible for the breakdown of proteins. Seeing as protein is required to carry protein-bound calcium in the blood, a lack of protease to actually digest the protein can lead to arthritis, osteoporosis and other diseases caused by a deficiency of calcium.
Lipase: Having covered the other two macronutrients and their digestive enzymes, we know that lipase is responsible for the digestion of fats. Lipase breaks down a fat like avocado into cholesterol and fatty acids. Like the other two digestive enzymes amylase and protease, lipase is created/located in the pancreas, intestines and the mouth.
There are a number of different factors that can cause a deficiency in digestive enzymes and a decrease in their efficiency of actually breaking down the food we consume.
Food allergies can cause a deficiency of digestive enzymes
Aging: For me, aging gets overly used as an excuse for poor health when in actual fact it’s neglect of your health over the years that’s caused the problem. If you’re 50 years old and have spent your life eating processed ‘junk’ and not exercising, then of course your health is going to be poor. So aging could potentially affect your digestive enzymes but neglect and a poor lifestyle is equally, if not more responsible.
Stress can also play a major role in digestive enzyme issues. Chronic stress will cause the body to be in a constant sympathetic state. This means we are in fight or flight mode! Fight or flight mode causes adrenaline and cortisol to be released into the bloodstream and we will experience an increase in breathing and heart rate. While this is going on, digestion has been moved down the pecking order in the body’s priorities and we will experience a decrease in digestive efficiency.
However, all of this is by no means irreparable. In order to increase the efficiency of your digestive enzymes, you can supplement with digestive enzymes. You can also work on decreasing your level of stress (through exercise) and improving your nutrition. If you’re someone that likes to eat out and you consume a lot of processed food, start buying whole ‘clean’ foods and eat raw vegetables as much as possible to ensure you don’t overcook foods to the point of them losing their nutrients.
Remember, if you don’t know how to eat properly for YOUR body, we design custom meal plans tailored to YOU and YOUR needs.
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