Digestive enzymes play a vital role in the full function of the gastrointestinal system aka GI tract. The GI tract needs to work well, as it is not simply for digesting food, but that it is integral to facilitating the absorption of important nutrients , elimination of toxic waste and (as discovered in the recent years) the vital role that it plays in relation to the immune system and the nervous system.
Digestive enzymes exist throughout the various different areas of the GI tract. The different digestive enzymes have different uses and breakdown different foods into the smaller component nutrients so that the food nutrients can be absorbed properly into the blood stream.
If the body is not able to produce the right amount of the digestive enzymes, then food cannot be broken down, which means that it cannot be absorbed by the body for the nutrients. In turn, over a longer period of time, the body will start showing signs of illness due to low nutrient levels.
There are so many different and complex digestive enzymes which the body manufactures. The main organs responsible for manufacturing digestive enzymes are the pancreas and the small intestine. The salivary glands are also responsible for making saliva which contains enzymes which start the process of breaking down carbohydrates.
Why do digestive enzyme production reduce or stop in the body?
- If the organs which manufacture the digestive enzymes become diseased then the production will become lowered or stopped altogether. Examples of such disease are: coeliac disease; crohns disease; chronic pancreatitis; pancreatic cancer; cystic fibrosis.
- When the GI tract becomes inflammed (for example when there is a food sensitivity/allergy) this can lead to a reduction in the production of digestiveenzymes.
- Stress has always been considered to affect the GI tract, which in turn can affect the production of digestive enzymes. Continual stress leads to poor digestive activity and this can impair the digestiveenzymeoutput.
Using supplemental digestive enzymes for overcoming the deficiencies
If you find that you suffer from discomfort straight after eating food, then it is possible that you have low levels of digestive enzymes. Some ofthe signs and symptoms which you might experience are as follows:
- You feel that your food has not been digested and it’s been sitting in your stomach for a long time
- Your stools have undigested food pieces
- An oil slick in the toilet bowl indicates that you are excreting undigested fats
If you feel that you might have low levels of digestive enzymes, then I would advise that you see your healthcare professional and request a stool test. If you do find that the stool test indicates a deficiency in digestive enzymes, then supplementing before eating any meal with a digestive enzyme will be beneficial.
It is important that you choose a digestive enzyme from a reputable company. My preference in clinic is use any one of the Biocare Ranges (professional) digestive enzymes.
Copyright G Nandhra BSc. Psy. Diploma Nutritional Therapy. Wellbeingrange. Jan2016.