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Digestive Enzymes and Their Role in Healthy Digestion

by Nikki Seay

Each and every time you eat, your body goes through a methodical process of extracting what it needs from the food. Digestion is a complicated process that includes multiple steps, such as the grinding of food by your teeth or the chemical breakdown of food in your stomach. One of the most important roles in digestive health, however, is the one played by digestive enzymes.

If you’ve ever been told that you are what you eat, you were misled. The truth is that you are what you absorb from your food. When you eat a nice, juicy steak, you have to chew it up and swallow the bite. Your body has to continue working on that food in order to break it down and prepare to extract nutrients that are absorbed. This process is completed by digestive enzymes, which are chemical compounds that break down food particles into much smaller units.

Types of Digestive Enzymes

There are many different digestive enzymes, each with a particular function. Their job is to interact with every type of food you eat. A few types of digestive enzymes and their roles in healthy digestion are:

  • Amylase: This enzyme works to target and break down starches
  • Cellulase: This enzyme helps with your body digest dietary fibers
  • Lipase: This particular enzyme breaks down dietary fats
  • Protease: This enzyme breaks down proteins

Your body, being the amazing machine that it is, manufactures its own digestive enzymes from the nutrients obtained via food. If your diet is rich in all the necessary vitamins and minerals, it is able to make digestive enzymes and release them during digestion.

This process starts in the mouth where ptyalin, amylase and lipase start to work by breaking down carbohydrates and fats. Moving through the process, the stomach, liver, pancreas and gallbladder all play a role in healthy digestion. These organs release different types of enzymes into your digestive tract, ensuring the chemical breakdown of food. This is vital, as the food particles must be small enough to allow your body to absorb the nutrients deeply embedded in each bite of food.

Enzymes from Natural Sources

There are also naturally occurring enzymes that support your healthy digestion. These enzymes are not manufactured by your body, but obtained through eating raw fruits, vegetables and taking all-natural enzume dietary supplements such as those sold on this site. Two examples of these enzymes would be papain from papaya and bromelain from pineapple.

Poor Diet = Poor Digestion

Unfortunately, many people don’t eat nutritious meals on a regular basis. Sadly, it’s rare these days to see someone eating a consistent diet that is high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Generally, people tend to neglect their diet and eat processed foods that are stripped of nutrients and full of sugar. With this type of diet, it is extremely difficult for the body to produce all the digestive enzymes that are needed to break down and process nutrient-deficient foods. When the body is continually starved of nutrients, their enzyme production can be significantly reduced by the time middle-age sets in, causing serious digestive issues. Common side effects associated with a lack of digestive enzymes include upset stomach, chronic gas, bloating and digestive pain/discomfort. It is the typical diet that benefits from enzyme-containing dietary supplements.

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