Digest This…Why Enzymes Matter
Why Digestive Enzymes Matter. Imagine an enormous holiday buffet: the ham, the turkey, the dressing, the creamy cloud of mashed potatoes, that scrumptious wedge of pie smothered in whipped topping… all calling your name. For some, this is the stuff dining dreams are made of. For many others though, it’s a dreaded digestive nightmare. We’re talking abdominal Armageddon.
Upwards of 70 million Americans suffer chronic digestive disorders. Conditions such as gastro esophageal reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and Celiac disease cause daily suffering and take a big toll on one’s quality of life. The National Institutes of Health reports that digestive diseases come at an annual cost of nearly 150-billion dollars, and kill a quarter of a million people a year. The amazing thing is that these diseases are preventable. All this leads us to talk about enzymes.
Simply put, enzymes are the stuff of life. Without these little catalysts that spark hundreds of thousands of biochemical reactions in the body we would be… a rock. Or a railroad tie. Or a doorknob. Completely void of life. Each enzyme is specific to a particular body function that no other enzyme can accomplish. They’re important. Really important. And if there were such a thing as the most important enzymes, in my book it would be those that our bodies use to digest food.
Digestive enzymes break down protein, carbs, and fats, allowing for vital nutrient absorption that turns food into energy and keeps our bodies healthy. Raw fruits and vegetables contain their own enzymes that reduce the digestive burden on the body. But cooking food –over 118 degrees– kills the enzymes, and foods that come in a bag, box, or can… well, they’re already dead. So when we eat these foods the body has to supply all the enzymes needed for digestion. Problem is, we don’t have an endless supply.
We begin life with a bank of digestive enzymes; when they’re gone, they’re gone. Cooked and processed foods use up our digestive enzymes faster than a sailor on shore leave can empty his wallet. And when the enzyme account starts running low, digestive difficulties arise. Indigestion, gas, and bloating are ways the body tells us that all is not as it should be in the enzyme department. Serious diseases can result when we ignore these warning signs.
“Ninety-eight per cent of the people whose blood I analyze are enzyme deficient,” says Brandi Stewart, a Microscopic Technician, specially trained to analyze live blood for a host of health concerns. “It’s the typical American diet of too much processed and not enough raw food.”.
A lack of enzymes not only causes digestive diseases, it also causes the blood to become sticky, according to Brandi. The result is reduced nutrient absorption, fatigue, malnourishment, slowed metabolism, weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Kids need enzymes too. One study found that a diet heavy in processed foods causes enzyme depletion as early as age 13. That,-my friends, is a health disaster waiting to happen.
The solution is really pretty simple. Make raw fruits and veggies a big part of the daily diet, and learn about proper food combining. The old steak and potatoes meal stresses digestion because proteins and starches are incredibly difficult to break down at the same time. It would be very wise to take a digestive enzyme supplement at every meal where cooked or processed food is on the menu.
Brandi recommends enzymes that are broad spectrum and plant-based. “Enzymes in supplement form are sensitive to the body’s pH, and the plant-based variety are more forgiving than animal based enzymes,” she says.
There are oodles of digestive enzymes available, usually found at health food stores. They are incredibly safe, effective, and affordable. So, pop some digestive enzymes before grazing at the holiday buffet. Your guts will thank you.
If you’d like to read more about it: Enzymes: What the Experts Know by Tom Bohager, published by One World Press.
Julie Brannon is a licensed natural health counselor and owner of Bailey’s Naturals, in downtown Safety Harbor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Julie Brannon, CPT
Article written for Destination Tampa Bay magazine
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