Did you know that digestive enzymes are important part of regulating your digestive system?
In addition to proteins, carbohydrates, fats and water, there are 20 types of minerals and thirteen types of vitamins required for healthy metabolism in the body. When food is eaten, digestive enzymes break down the nutrients in the food for absorption and transportation through the blood stream. In other words, these enzymes help to “jump-start” the digestive process. While a nutritious diet is important for good health, it does little good if foods are not properly digested.
With aging comes a slow-down in digestion which inhibits the body’s ability to make use of nutrients. This can cause gas, bloating, nutritional deficiency and occasionally, inflammatory conditions. Supplementation with manufactured digestive enzymes can help enhance digestion, prevent malnutrition and guard against inflammation. Supplemental digestive enzymes are also prescribed to patients with health conditions that affect absorption of nutrients, like pancreatic insufficiency and cystic fibrosis.
There are three groups of digestive enzymes: proteolytic enzymes are needed to digest protein, lipases are necessary for the digestion of fats, and amylases are needed for the digestion of carbohydrates. Digestive enzymes include those that are found in fungus, plant-derived enzymes and pancreatic enzymes. These enzymes treat more than just the digestion however.
Pancreatic enzymes work to eradicate organisms that infect the body like viruses and scar tissue. They are often used by naturopaths to treat many types of infection, bone fractures and to strengthen the body before surgery. Digestive enzymes are said to aid a variety of diseases including multiple sclerosis and cancer.
A review article from the U. S. National Library of Medicine entitled, Therapy with Proteolytic Enzymes in Rheumatic Disorders, examined a body of research with enzyme therapy. It was concluded that oral therapy with proteolytic enzymes can have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects on patients with rheumatic conditions, but the results are sometimes inconsistent. Due to positive effects however, more research is encouraged by the author.
In another review article entitled Systemic Enzyme Therapy in Diseases of the Vascular System, the author examines research of enzyme therapy for patients with vascular disease over last 40 years, involving 150 clinical trials. It was concluded that enzyme therapy has proven to be surprisingly high in effectiveness with absolutely no side effects. Treatment of vascular conditions with high-dosed combinations of several animal and plant proteolytic enzymes has helped patients with vascular disease in many ways including prevention of blood vessel decomposition and repair of vessel walls, normalization of T cells, and reduction in inflammation.
To boost your digestive system and possibly enhance overall health, give digestive enzymes a try. Look for one that contains:
- Proteases like papain (which comes from papayas) and bromelain (which comes from pineapple) to help with the digestion of proteins
- Lipase for digestion of fats
- Amylase to help process carbohydrates
- Lactase for the digestion of dairy products
- Cellulase to assist in the breakdown of fiber cellulose
In addition to a daily multivitamin supplement, digestive enzymes appear to be invaluable for the maintenance of good health. They can be found in most grocery stores, in your local whole foods store or through natural supplement websites.