The Essential Work of Digestive Enzymes
By Christy Stouffer
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 have 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. So I tweaked our family menus, and we were once again 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 and process it so nutrients are released. Nutrients in our food, when properly digested, strengthen our immune systems, enhance cell growth and repair, and boost energy levels. The SAD (Standard American Diet) however is an enemy of digestive enzymes. Our overly abundant non-living and processed foods actually destroy digestive enzymes. Consequently, research shoes, older people and people with chronic diseases have fewer enzymes in their salvia, urine, and tissues. 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.
Enzymes are also destroyed by stress and environmental toxins. And once these 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 feeling, 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:
- Betaine– a naturally-occurring enzyme in the stomach that helps break down fats and proteins.
- Pancreatin–a mixture of amylaste, 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 lipids and 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 them as available nutrition for 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 fiver, another important element of healthy digestion. Off-the-shelf varieties, though, may not always do the trick.
Since heat kills enzymes during cooking and pasteurization, milk products that are pasteurized have no life to aid digestion. These products are essentially 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.
The book The Untold Story of Milk has a revolutionizing wealth of information and is available at http://www.beyoutiful.com. It explains everything from the history of the dairy industry to common myths and misconceptions about milk to the many documented health benefits of raw dairy products.
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. I started by taking one table 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 mid-day nap and felt energetic and stronger each day.
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 homsechooling 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.