Enzymes are naturally secreted by our digestive organs to speed up the breakdown of food, so our gut can extract and dispense the nutrients that are inside of the carbohydrates, fats and proteins. They also help us to absorb these nutrients and get rid of what isn’t needed. Without enzymes, the food we eat would just sit in our gut and slowly rot. There are several enzymes with specialized roles: lipases that break down fat, amylases that handle carbohydrates, and proteases that work on proteins.
Poor digestion can leave us feeling full and bloated after a meal. Unfortunately a lot of that has to do with the processed foods that are everywhere. Very few people truly eat a clean diet all of the time. So much of what’s in today’s processed food is nearly indigestible and bad for us. Even when our digestive enzymes are flowing freely and in the right amounts, they may only be able to break down and extract about half of our food’s true nutrient value. Our digestive organs and enzymes end up working harder than they should, when we eat the wrong foods and too much of them.
Did you know that 70% of our immune system is in our gut? When the digestive system is working properly it serves as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and pathogens of all kinds. The naturally occurring acid secreted in our stomach kills most pathogens; however, eating processed food produces gastric symptoms. Instead of taking a digestive enzyme, most turn to drugs that reduce or neutralize this acid, like antacids and proton pump inhibitors. These drugs negatively impact our ability to digest protein, which is an essential component of our immune cells, and permits pathogens to pass into our small intestine where they are absorbed into the blood stream.
As we age, our supply of enzymes gets smaller. Just like all of our other organs that show diminished function over time, like our heart, eyes, and joints, so do our enzyme making organs. By the time we are 50, our bodies may be producing about half of the enzymes they did when we were younger. Ultimately, our immune system will suffer, due to not being able to absorb all of the nutrients from the foods we eat. Enzyme deficiencies are the result of genetics, stress, unhealthy foods, environmental toxins, and poor lifestyle habits. Signs of a deficiency can include gas, constipation, diarrhea, skin rashes, bloating, gastric upset and lowered immune function.
Good health is dependent on a healthy digestive and immune system. Taking supplemental enzymes, especially when eating foods that are highly processed, cooked improperly or difficult to digest, reduces stress to the digestive system, supports the proper uptake of nutrients and creates a healthy environment for 70% of your immune system.