LEARN THE ROLE OF DIGESTIVE ENZYMES IN EVERYDAY HEALTH
The optimal function of the digestive system is foundational to the healthy liberation of nutrients from food and overall good health. This is so important, in fact, that approximately 10-15% of people in the United States report some type of symptom associated with functional digestive health.1
Digestive enzymes are key players in effectively supporting the optimal breakdown of the food eaten each and every day. When this food is not properly digested one can experience a variety of consequences such as gas, bloating, occasional indigestion, and undigested food in the stool. Honestly, any time that one experiences stool changes or functional gastrointestinal complaints, the consideration of a digestive enzyme should be on the list.* With the understanding of some of the potential symptoms which would cause one to consider digestive enzyme supplementation, it is also important to have a clear understanding of the events which can lead up to this need.
The modern era has resulted in an on-the-go lifestyle of consistently eating when in a hurry or stressed. The process of digesting food is an eloquent symphony which has a very specific pattern to ensure optimal function. Adequate time is not taken to sit down and enjoy a meal. Taking a moment to just look at food can provide visual cues to the brain to start preparing the body.2 The pleasant aroma of a favorite, or any, dish helps to start the flow of saliva, an important initial step of the digestive process.3 More so, many are not taking time to adequately masticate their food, which further reduces the time food has to interact within the oral cavity with saliva. While saliva has several roles, an important one is its ability to initiate the digestion of starches in maltose to be further digested later on in the digestive process.4 Effectively “activating” this first step in the digestive process requires pause which many are unwilling or unable to do. This can create challenges further down the digestive tract when areas are not well equipped to deal with starches that have not had time to adequately be broken down by saliva.
Both the presence of excess gas in the digestive tract and flatus are potential indicators of digestive enzyme need. This occurs when food is not fully digested as it passes through the digestive tract and partially digested food-stuffs are fermented by the bacterial residents of the small or large intestine. The by-products of this bacterial fermentation in the colon are largely responsible for foul-smelling gas.5
As humans age, there is a natural decline in some of the endogenous production of digestive enzymes. Researchers have demonstrated that the content of saliva can be decreased by as much as 50% in the elderly.6Additional deficits have been noted in enzymes secreted by the pancreas.7
In conclusion, digestive enzymes are very important and optimal digestive function depends on their presence and effective interaction with food eaten each and every day. When eating in relaxed locations and chewing food thoroughly is not sufficient, combining the proper application of digestive enzymes to promote the full breakdown of food can yield powerful long-term results for both the young and old.*
Christopher Oswald, DC, LN, CNS
Christopher Oswald is a licensed nutritionist, chiropractor, and certified nutrition specialist. He has been in clinical practice since 2007 and currently practices in Wisconsin, in a general practice with a focus on digestive challenges, chronic fatigue, and overall health. In practice, he utilizes functional medicine principles to identify the underlying causes, which guides his direction for the appropriate clinical care. Additionally, he is the manager of education content for Nature’s Way Products, LLC.
Blog Source: Integrative Therapeutics | ROLE OF DIGESTIVE ENZYMES IN EVERYDAY HEALTH*