Search by Brand
 
Free shipping for all orders over $80
Shopping Cart
0 items
 
Specials
 
Featured Items
 

Enzymes for healthy digestion

Most people are not aware of how complex their digestive system is. They eat three meals a day and trust the food will be digested and nutrients used for health and energy, with waste eliminated. In most cases this is exactly what happens, but when there are problems such as indigestion, bloating, heartburn, nausea or diarrhea, it’s helpful to know a little about the digestive process in order to assess what might be the cause (with assistance from a physician) and how to deal with it. Important components of digestion are enzymes which help to break down food into molecules for absorption. When they are not able to do their job because of some malfunction or intolerance in the body, there could be severe repercussions.

Let’s consider digestion. The foods we ingest—meat, vegetables, breads and cereals – taste good but are not in a form the body can use as nourishment. Food and drink must be changed into smaller molecules of nutrients before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to cells in the body. This is where the digestive tract comes in. It is so designed that each organ in the tract – mouth, esophagus, stomach and small intestine – provides different enzymes to help break down food.

Chewing in the mouth begins the process of breaking down food to make it easier on the rest of the tract. Saliva glands in the mouth secrete an enzyme known as amylase which breaks down starches into smaller molecules of maltose. This will eventually lead to the formation of glucose, the simple sugar that all cells require for energy.

As one swallows, food is carried down the esophagus into the stomach where acids and another enzyme, pepsin, work on protein to break it into its component amino acids, which are absorbed to build body tissues.

Into the small intestine

The lower part of the stomach next empties food into the small intestine. Here juices or enzymes from the pancreas and liver join those from the intestine itself to aid further digestion. For example, pancreatic amylase continues the process of breaking down starch into maltose, while lipase breaks down fat molecules into smaller fatty acids the body will use for such functions as producing hormones.

All the digested nutrients move through the walls of the small intestine to be transported throughout the body while unused or undigested materials including fibre are pushed into the colon or large intestine to be expelled.

What a marvellous system! Yet one can readily see that those who cannot produce certain enzymes perhaps because some part of the digestive tract is damaged or compromised will experience negative outcomes. These could be something mild such as stomach ache or bloating when food is held up in the stomach, or simple fatigue since food is not able to provide energy. On the other hand it could be something very serious such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease when the stomach or small intestine is damaged. Other ill effects of lack of enzyme activity in the digestive tract are gastrointestinal reflux, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis or other joint pain since calcium and protein might not be there to aid in bone health.

While most people fortunately have sufficient natural enzymes to adequately perform digestion, others may need to ingest an enzyme in the form of capsules. A fairly common ailment is lactose intolerance which means the small intestine does not produce the enzyme (lactase) to break down milk sugars. Dietary lactase supplements are available to ease this, although many people simply avoid eating milk products. If you are experiencing a mild form of heartburn, stomach ache or bloating after meals, perhaps your food is not being broken down adequately which could be alleviated by a digestive enzyme formula. For serious gastrointestinal conditions, consult your physician who will do tests to determine whether enzymes are doing their job or not.