With an American diet full of cooked and processed foods, many people suffer from occasional or chronic indigestion. Cutting down on processed foods and adding more raw fruits and vegetables to the diet can help. Supplemental enzymes also make great indigestion remedies. Promoting the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and other substances, these enzymes help ensure the digestive system doesn't get overtaxed.
Amylase: Amylase helps convert carbohydrates into simple sugars the body can absorb. Amylase works in two areas of the body ─ the mouth and the pancreas. The salivary glands release amylase to begin breaking down starches in the mouth. When food passes through to the small intestine, the pancreas releases amylase to complete the breakdown of carbohydrates.
Cellulase: Much of the plant fiber that people eat is made up of cellulose. The human body doesn't manufacture cellulase, which is the enzyme needed to break down this fiber. It depends on bacteria, fungi, and protozoa in the large intestine to produce cellulase through fermentation. While some types of cellulase are more active in an alkaline environment, others operate more effectively in a neutral or acidic environment.
Lactase: Lactase helps break down lactose ─ a sugar in milk and milk products ─ for proper absorption by the body. People who are lactose intolerant do not make enough lactase. Supplemental lactase helps them tolerate and digest milk and milk products, relieving indigestion and other symptoms.
Lipase: For some people, lipase is one of the more important indigestion remedies. It helps breakdown fats into molecules that can pass through the digestive tract and into the bloodstream. While there is some lipase production in the mouth and stomach, most occurs in the pancreas. Many people produce enough lipase for adequate breakdown of fats, but individuals with celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or cystic fibrosis may lack this important enzyme.
Protease: Protease enzymes help break down different types of proteins. Through the process of hydrolysis, these enzymes convert proteins into smaller peptides and amino acids. They also help clean cell walls of harmful organisms by breaking down toxins and cellular debris. Good plant sources of protease enzymes are papaya and pineapple.
In addition to making good indigestion remedies, enzymes also prevent or minimize:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Stomach bloating