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Supplemental Digestive
Enzymes Benefits

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The benefits of supplemental digestive enzymes are numerous.

Enzymes are necessary for every cell in your body.  To date, science has discovered at least 3,000 different enzymes. 

The three main categories of enzymes are food based, digestive and metabolic. 

We will only be focusing on the digestive and food enzymes.

Digestive enzymes are secreted by the salivary glands when you chew your food.  Your stomach also secretes enzymes when it knows food is on its way. 

The pancreatic enzymes lend a hand in breaking down the food once it empties into the small intestines.

Food enzymes are naturally found in the raw foods we should be eating.   While the digestive and food enzymes come from different sources, they have the same mission. 

Their role is to breakdown and digest the food so the nutrients can be assimilated by the blood stream.

Click here for a more complete explanation about the our food and in our body. 

If you're enzyme deficient, you'll notice the benefits of enzymes right away when you take supplemental digestive enzymes.

Before you finish reading this page, you might want to check our benefits of enzymes questionnaire to see if you have symptoms of an enzyme deficiency.

Cooking our foods at temperatures beyond 120 degrees destroys the enzymes. Ideally we should eat the majority of our food raw, but that's not likely in our modern society.

To make things worse, the preservatives used in processed foods contain enzyme inhibitors. 

Since most people eat mainly cooked and processed food, most of us could benefit from taking supplemental digestive enzymes.

What Are Digestive Enzymes?

Food digestive enzymes from animals sources contain the same enzymes that our body produces to digest food. They are made of pancreatic enzymes, hydrochloric acid and bile salts.

Plant digestive enzymes are plant sources. They contain enzymes like amylase, lipase, protease, etc. Plant enzymes replace the enzymes that were destroyed during cooking.

How Do Enzymes Work?

The basic function of enzymes are to turn the food we eat into nutrients so they can be used by the body. Enzymes are involved in many functions of the body and help with our immunity, detoxification and structural repair.

The first phase happens in our mouth.  When we chew, the salivary glands secrete enzymes that start breaking the food down. 

That is why it is suggested to chew your food until it is the consistency of applesauce.  There is less work for the stomach when your chewing has pre-digested the food.

Next, the food ends up in the upper part of the stomach.  It stays there for about 20-30 minutes and continues to predigest the food.

When natural enzymes are present in your diet, you rarely have digestion issues.

Up to 1/3 of digestion takes place in the upper stomach if either natural enzymes or supplemental digestive enzymes are present.

But when we eat a meal of all cooked foods this pre-digestion doesn't take place and the bulk of the digestive work falls to the stomach and the pancreas.

I immediately noticed the benefits of enzymes when I started using digestive enzymes. No more rockin' and rollin' in my tummy!

Choosing the Best Digestive Enzymes

Determining which is the best supplemental digestive enzyme for you depends on many factors. Your age, your diet and your current state of health are all factors in choosing the the best digestive enzymes for yourself.

Steven Horne,AHG, an expert in natural health, explained it this way in a class I was taking.

If a person's natural digestion process is impaired due to being weak, elderly, illness or injury, then enzymes containing betaine HCI should be used.

Because they are the same enzymes that are produced by our own body.

Once digestion is improved then it would be appropriate to switch to plant based digestive enzymes.

Plant digestive enzymes are healthy choices for most everyone else.

Steven Horne explains, “There’s nothing wrong with using betaine HCI, but I don’t like doing anything for the body that it should be doing for itself.

My thoughts on this are that all chemicals in the body have feedback loops. When levels of a particular substance rise, it shuts down the body’s own production.

This, in my opinion, tends to make the body “lazy,” and isn’t restoring natural function.”

Choices In Supplemental Digestive Enzymes

Here is a list of the main enzymes and the role they play in digestion. help break down different types of food:

  • Betaine HCI: Helps to replace stomach acid to kill pathogens and breakdown food.
  • Lipase: Helps to break down fats. (Helpful if you've had gallbladder removed).
  • Sucrase or Invertase:  Helps to break down sugars.
  • Lactase:  Helps to break down the sugar molecule in milk and dairy.
  • Cellulase:  Helps to break down fiber.
  • Amylase:  Helps to digest carbohydrates.
  • Maltase: Helps to convert complex grain sugars into glucose
  • Protease:  Helps to digest protein and the heavy feeling after eating.
  • Phytase:  Helps with overall digestion.

To my knowledge there are no digestive enzymes side effects. However, enzymes may be contraindicated if you have stomach ulcers, so check with your healthcare provider before taking them. 

Additional Resources

Don't forget to check out the Enzymes Questionnaire.

What to do about Chronic Gas and Bloating

Benefits of Probiotic Pills

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Return to Healthy Choices 4 Life Home Page

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