How I Nearly Missed a Key to Nutrient Absorption
This information originally appeared in a slightly different form in our Fall 2009 catalog.
Busy schedules and a desire for convenience had taken a toll on my family’s diet, but not long ago, I decided to get us back on the wagon of nutritious eating. While eating whole and healthy foods has always been my focus, we had gotten so we didn’t take time to prepare fresh, nutritious foods.
Our family garden and the weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) basket gave us a plentiful supply of delicious and healthy foods, so we had no excuse for not eating well. I knew our bodies craved better foods and noticed my own energy level had dropped considerably. I was fatigued much of the time.
I tweaked our family menus so that we once again were eating nature’s bounty. To my surprise, however, my fatigue lingered, along with occasional bouts of acid reflux. Our diets had improved, but I didn’t feel the commensurate improvement in my body.
Fortunately, about this time, a friend told me a bit about digestive enzymes, and I set out to learn more.
How the Good in Good Food is Lost
I discovered that proper nourishment involves more than just eating healthy foods. It’s possible to eat a wide variety of the best foods, use only organically-grown fare, and still be deficient in adequate nutrition.
But why is this so? The key to good health lies in both eating healthy foods and properly digesting them.
We’re born with an ample supply of enzymes to break down the food we eat just after birth: breastmilk. A broader range of enzymes to process other foods and release their nutrients develops gradually as we grow. Nutrients in our food, when properly digested, strengthen our immune systems, enhance cell growth and repair, and boost energy levels.
However, the SAD (Standard American Diet) is an enemy of digestive enzymes. Our abundance of non-living and processed foods actually destroy digestive enzymes!
Time and poor diets whittle away the supply of digestive enzymes, particularly if our diets have been low in fresh, cultured, and raw fruits and vegetables. Consequently, research shows that older people and people with chronic diseases have fewer enzymes in their saliva, urine, and tissues.
Enzymes are also destroyed by stress and environmental toxins. Once the enzymes are gone, the digestive system struggles to compensate for the loss of these essential workers. When enzymes are not plentiful and functioning, a person may experience any or all of the following: fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, bloated sensations, heartburn, acid reflux, excessive gas, and food cravings.
The Great Enzyme Comeback
The good news is that vital digestive enzymes can be restored to the body. Even if your body is depleted of its natural digestive enzymes, you can, through supplemental digestive enzymes, rebuild your body’s inventory of these necessary enzymes. Here are a few of the most helpful.
- Betaine– A naturally-occurring enzyme in the stomach that helps break down fats and proteins.
- Pancreatin– A mixture of amylase, protease, and lipase, this enzyme fills the gap where pancreatic secretions are deficient. It has been associated with helping food allergies, celiac disease, automimmune disease, cancer, and weight loss.
- Papain– Derived from papaya and certain other plants, this enzyme has a mild, soothing effect on the stomach and aids in protein digestion. Papain helps digest protein thoroughly and frees amino acids for quick absorption. It works in acid, alkaline, or neutral environments and is especially valuable for the elderly or anyone who has weak digestion due to enzyme deficiencies.
- Ox Bile Extract– Excreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, this important enzyme assists in digestion of fats. It also assists in metabolizing cholesterol and fat and in absorption of Vitamins K, A, D, and E.
- Pepsin Enzymes– Pepsin is produced in the mucosal lining of the stomach and acts to degrade protein.
- Bromelain– Found in the stems and plants of the pineapple, this enzyme is often used to aid irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, gas, and other digestive problems. It is effective in breaking down proteins and rendering their nutrition available to the body.
The Enzyme Solution
Some nutritional experts recommend that at least 70% of your diet should consist of raw, cultured, or juiced foods, all which will boost enzyme production and which also provide healthy levels of fiber, another important element of healthy digestion.
Since heat kills enzymes during cooking and pasteurization, milk products that are pasteurized have no life to aid digestion. These products are essentially cooked and dead, and end up burdening your digestive system. It is far better to use live dairy products. Those made from raw milk are best. Yogurt, for instance, contains beneficial probiotics and is simple to make at home from raw milk.
When making the shift to a more natural diet, though, go slowly. Introduce raw foods gradually, and allow your body to adjust to the new “climate” you’re creating in your digestive system.
As I discovered, eating raw fruits and vegetables did not immediately cure my fatigue. In my case, I needed help from a supplement to restore my digestive balance and to help my body absorb nutrients in the healthy foods. This is where supplemental enzymes can be such a blessing.
I started by taking one tablet of Beeyoutiful’s Digestive Enzyme with each meal. After about a week, I was able to tolerate foods better, and the tired, sluggish feelings I had been experiencing during the day were gone! I no longer wanted a midday nap and felt energetic and stronger each day.
Beeyoutiful has expanded its line to include four different enzyme options.
- Digestive Enzymes – Broad Spectrum digestive enzyme with Cellulase and Protease for yeast cell wall digestion.
- Digest Best – Whether you are looking for a digestive aid to help with protein, carbohydrates or fats, Digest Best’s one pill covers them all with its special blend of non-GMO, vegetarian digestive enzymes.
- Bromelain – An enzyme derived directly from the pineapple that is beneficial for digestion.
- GoGoZymes – Beeyoutiful’s GoGoZymes provide a great range of digestive enzymes that are great for both kids and adults. These berry-flavored tablets are certified non-GMO and are free of artificial additives.
If you’re experiencing symptoms that may indicate an enzyme deficiency, you may benefit from a supplemental boost of digestive enzymes. I was amazed at how, in a week’s time, I had more energy and the occasional acid reflux completely disappeared. The road to better health begins with proper digestion!
Christy Stouffer moved from the “big city” to rural middle Tennessee where she enjoys gardening, living in a small community among friends, learning about the natural things God has given us for nutrition, and homeschooling her four children with her husband. She is a pianist in her church fellowship and a valued resource of encouragement and wisdom for younger women in her life. Christy’s enthusiasm and research about nutrition and wholesome living is appreciated by all who know her.
*Article has been updated to reflect new products.