Enzymes: The Missing Link for Optimal Digestion
Steven Lamm, MD
Don’t feel alone if you experience tummy troubles. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, over 95 million Americans suffer from poor digestion. GERD and constipation are the top two most common outpatient care diagnoses among adults, and children under age 15 experience digestive issues as frequently as adults ages 65 years and older. Proof of this is seen in the multi-billion dollar digestive aid industry and on the shelves of your local pharmacy—stacked high with antacids, laxatives, fiber products, and more. The problem is endemic. Why? The major culprit is our modern cooked diet which destroys the natural enzymes found in raw foods that aid in digestion. Another reason is the body’s own diminishing ability to produce enzymes as we age. Add to that our love of processed, refined and fatty foods. It’s no wonder that so many of us frequently suffer from occasional bloating, gas, indigestion, poor absorption, and constipation. Illness and antibiotics also deplete the natural enzymes in our body.
Enzymes are biologically active proteins that are critical to every biochemical reaction in the body and necessary for good health.
In my practice, some of the most common complaints relate to digestion, bloating and gas. I’ve found that by changing how we eat and using supplements such as probiotics and enzymes can improve the entire digestive process which is critical for health maintenance
Dr. Lamm continues to explain that good digestion is a cornerstone of overall good health, so it’s a high priority to fix it when it’s broken.
Try the following 9 digestive tips recommended by Dr. Lamm:
- Eat meals at regular times. Your body appreciates a regular schedule.
- Take time to savor your food and don’t forget to chew properly.
- Get enough sleep at night, at least 8-9 hours. Sleep is the great healer and we tend to underestimate its importance in our sleep-deprived culture.
- Drink plenty of H2O whenever your lips or mouth feel dry. We tend to be dehydrated and this hampers good digestion and feeling healthy in general.
- Replace a cooked meal with a raw meal daily. Raw fruits and vegetables contain valuable enzymes that are lost when foods are heated in cooking.
- Take a good probiotic to maintain healthy flora in the intestines.
- Reduce stress through daily exercise, yoga and meditation, and take a relaxing walk after you eat.
- Try a product containing a full spectrum blend of the four key enzymes, including protease to digest protein, amylase to digest carbohydrates, lipase to digest fats, and cellulase to digest fiber.
- Take the “enzyme deficiency test” from Enzymedica—The Enzyme Experts, and initiate steps for healthier digestion, http://www.enzymedica.com/takethetest
Digestive Enzymes Power Digestion
Enzymes are made by our bodies and may be found in fresh wholesome foods as well as dietary supplements. They enhance the digestion and absorption of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, sugars, and dairy lactose. Digestive enzymes allow the nutrients found in the foods we consume to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Without enzymes, food cannot be broken down into nutrients, and waste cannot be eliminated.
Stress, medications, illness, processed foods and environmental factors may result in a dangerously low capacity to produce enzymes, leading to impaired digestion and eventually poor health. Fortunately, high quality supplemental enzymes can be found in health food stores for individuals who wish to maximize their own digestive processes, which contribute to optimal health.
The most popular and effective supplements contain plant-based enzymes. These enzymes are grown on plants, are vegetarian, and are able to break down carbohydrates, fats, proteins and fiber making them ideal for digestive aids.* The best formulas contain protease (for proteins), amylase (for carbohydrates), lipase (for lipids or fats) and cellulase (for fiber). Other unique enzymes can be added to assist with challenging foods: DPP-IV enzyme activity aids the digestion of proteins in gluten, lactase is specific to dairy lactose, and alpha-galactosidase is particularly helpful for beans and the complex starches in vegetables.
Of course, for the highest quality products, an individual should choose clean pure enzymes such as those which contain no fillers or binders.