Enzymes aren’t just for the faint of gut. Everyone can benefit from them from time to time, and some more often than others.
What exactly are they, and how do they work? Our bodies produce digestive enzymes in every part of the digestion process, from the second we put food in our mouths (hello, saliva) to the second it hits the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs. Enzymes are secreted in our gastrointestinal system to break down fats, carbs, and proteins so that we can properly absorb the nutrients.
Even though this is a function of our bodies, oftentimes, we can benefit from supplementing with enzymes in a major way. Some people have a harder time digesting milk protein, glutinous carbs, fatty foods, or even fibrous or cruciferous vegetables, especially when eaten raw. Some people actually don’t naturally produce enough stomach acid, which can result in malabsorption of nutrients (think of all those expensive healthy groceries bought in vain) and irregular, not-so-solid bowel movements.
Many of us are lactose intolerant in some way or another. In fact, 75% of the population experiences some type of lactose intolerance in their lives. This can result in stomach pain, loose stool, gas, or even breakouts. Taking an enzyme tailored to this issue can help break up the lactose protein that is disagreeing with our bodies and can help us to digest them properly, with minimal side effects.
Enzymes like lipase, amylase, and protease are compounds that help break down fats, proteins, and carbs. We need these macronutrients for optimal cell function; however, sometimes when combined, they are not so easily assimilated and processed. This can result in gas and the dreaded bloat. This is also a major player for weight management, as fats can be hard to digest and become stored in the body.
Hemicellulase and cellulase are two compounds found in some formulations that help to break down fibers in plants and grains, and even assist with gluten. That doesn’t necessarily mean people with severe celiac disease can safely eat gluten, but those with a sensitivity may find relief.
Blends with phytase are great, because this enzyme helps to break down phytic acid found in grains, corn, seeds, and nuts. Phytic acid prevents nutrient absorption and can cause digestive duress.
If eating anything is a gamble with how your body will react (we can get gas and bloating from something as lean and clean as a smoothie or salad, or of course blow up with indigestion from a greasy pizza and Coke) then enzymes might be your next hero supplement. In chronic cases, take before every meal to see how it works for you—or save them for your “treat” days. Regardless of what we eat, we want to digest in the smoothest, healthiest way.
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