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Why Are Enzymes So Important for Digestion? — an article on the Smart Living Network
April 4, 2010 at 4:03 PMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Why Are Enzymes So Important for Digestion?

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Enzymes are one of the key ingredients for a healthy digestive system. Most people don't know that having an enzyme deficiency can be the simple explanation behind common digestive problems like constipation/diarrhea, heartburn, bloating and IBS and even serious problems like Crohn's Disease and high blood pressure.

What are Enzymes?

Enzymes, in short, are proteins. Their primary function is to serve as a catalyst in bodily functions. They accelerate chemical reactions in almost all bodily processes by reducing the amount of energy necessary to perform those processes, making them integral to life. Enzymes are involved in over 4000 different processes, and one of the major processes they're a part of is digestion.

What do enzymes do for digestion?

Enzymes break down the substances we eat. That means enzymes break down proteins, cellulose, starches and other foodstuffs. This makes it possible for the intestines to absorb nutrients. Enzymes begin the digestive process in the mouth, as they're secreted by salivary glands. They work to break down starch into sugars. The next batch of digestive enzymes are encountered in the stomach. These are referred to as gastric enzymes. There are several different types of gastric enzymes including Gelatinase (breaks down meats), Gastric Amylase (breaks down starch), Gastric Lipase (breaks down certain types of fats), and Pepsin (breaks down proteins - the most predominant gastric enzyme). There are also enzymes in the pancreas. These digestive enzymes break substances down into even smaller parts than the mouth and stomach, sorting out solitary amino acids and separating fats. There are also other enzymes in the small intestine that break substances down into monosaccharides. How do we become enzyme deficient? If something prevents an enzyme from working at its full potential, it is called an Inhibitor. Enzymes are inhibited by a lot of things - drugs and poisons are frequently inhibitors, for instance - including temperature and chemicals. For this reason, simply cooking or processing food can destroy many of the natural enzymes. Since most people don't eat a lot of raw foods in their daily meals, the potential to absorb additional enzymes is lower now than it was two hundred years ago. Also, as a person ages, their exzyme production naturally slows.

How do you know if you have an enzyme deficiency?

Do you experience any of the following symptoms?:

  • Heartburn
  • Acid reflux
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

If so, this could indicate an enzyme deficiency. If left unattended, a severe enzyme deficiency could lead to:

  • Crohn's disease
  • Diabetes
  • Circulatory problems
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • IBS
  • Colitis
  • High Cholesterol
  • Bloating
  • Weight Gain/Loss

How can I stop an enzyme deficiency?

Try eating raw fruits and vegetables to absorb more enzymes in your diet. As an additional help, you can take an enzyme supplement. A good supplement will have a complete blend of essential enzymes including pancreatine, protease, amylase, collagenase and elastase.

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2 Comments

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