Digestive enzymes are proteins that help break down larger molecules like fats, proteins and carbohydrates into more easily absorbed particles that the body can use to survive and thrive. Digestive enzymes are synthesized and secreted in different parts of the digestive tract including the mouth, stomach and pancreas. The role of digestive enzymes is to act as a catalyst in speeding up specific life preserving chemical reactions in the body.
Without sufficient digestive enzymes the body is unable to absorb nutrients and digest food particles properly. Digestive enzymes protect against malabsorption, which can slow digestion and lead to uncomfortable symptoms like bloating , flatulence, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Digestive enzymes may help leaky gut and other digestive conditions by taking stress off of the the organs including the stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine and gastrointestinal tract.
Digestive enzymes can be obtained from supplements or naturally through foods such as kale, spinach, chard, pineapple, papaya, mango, banana, kiwi, avocado, coconut kefir, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, kimchi, and ginger. Sprouted seeds, nuts and grains have the highest enzyme content and should be consumed on a regular basis. Supplemental enzymes are becoming more and more popular as people become aware of the importance of gut health. When choosing a supplement, it is best to get a whole food based enzyme blend that is free of binders or fillers.
While our bodies do produce their own enzymes, the digestive enzyme production often declines as we age. Furthermore, a poor diet consisting of processed foods that lack nutrients can diminish digestive enzyme production. Adding more raw fruits and vegetables to your diet and supporting your system with an enzyme supplement can make a significant difference in maintaining your digestive health.