This is the third in a series of 5 on what we, at Damron Chiropractic & Wellness, consider to be the “Vital & Integral Players” – VIPs – of the supplements necessary for healthy aging.
Have you ever thought about how the food you eat is broken down and used by your body? How even after the most filling meal, your stomach will be growling in just a few hours with hunger? Things move in and out of our body on a regular basis. But what keeps it moving? Digestive enzymes.
Enzymes run the show in our body. They are the linchpin that sustains our life. From our muscles and bones, to the organs and systems throughout our body and all the way down to our cells – enzymes regulate it all. They are the catalyst in every chemical reaction that occurs within us. In fact, enzymes actually speed up the chemical reactions which saves us energy and keep things moving at the appropriate speed. If we didn’t have enzymes there would still be chemical reactions, however, the speed at which they would occur would be too slow to keep us going. The food we eat is broken down by these digestive enzymes, primarily from our pancreas and small intestine, to get at the nutrients that comprise it.
Digestive enzymes can be broken down into three categories:
- Lipases – break down fat
- Amylases – break down carbohydrates
- Proteases – break down proteins
Ideally, the food that we eat each day is comprised of these three nutrients, yet the reality is something entirely different. Our Western diet is comprised of foods that inhibit the body’s ability to get what it needs to work as it should and thrive. We are surrounded by foods that are highly processed, cooked improperly, and difficult to digest. This sad state of affairs puts our digestive system in disarray. Instead “the more refined and processed a food is, the lower your gut’s capacity to retrieve what’s there and distribute to your body” (S. Lamm, MD., NYU Medical Center, Jan. 2013). Only 40-50% of the nutrients are able to be extracted because your body is working in overdrive to get what it needs from the “junk” it was given for fuel. Imagine the consequences of eating a poor diet 100% of the time. If we choose to overlook the impact our bad diet has on our bodies, then we run the risk of harming ourselves not only nutritionally but with our immune system as well.
Surprisingly, 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. This means that our digestive system plays a major role in helping to prevent things like bacteria, viruses, and pathogens from entering our bloodstream and making us ill. Denying our body of optimal nutrition adds undo stress, but other factors can impact our digestive enzymes such as age, genetics, the environment, and poor lifestyles habits.
Here are some signs that your body may be experiencing a digestive enzyme deficiency:
- abdominal pain
- skin conditions – acne, eczema, rashes
- moodiness, headaches
- joint & myofascial pain
Adding a digestive enzyme supplement helps to offset the impact of these symptoms, plus give your body the boost it needs to function as it should. It’s as simple as knowing what to look for. Keep these four things in mind as you research your options:
- Make sure you select a supplement company that is reputable (we prefer Standard Process).
- Select one that is “blended” – in other words, helps with fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
- Avoid digestive enzymes that contain fillers.
- Look for supplements that are in capsule form.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference in our lives.