(Natural News) One of the leading causes for most chronic health problems is poor digestion. Some people may take over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to alleviate this health problem, but aside from the fact that they may potentially cause unwanted side effects, these drugs do very little in addressing the root cause of poor digestion, namely the insufficient levels of digestive enzymes.
The role of digestive enzymes in your body
Enzymes are a type of protein that you can find inside your cells. They create chemical reactions that can perform important tasks within your body. Natural digestive enzymes, such as those found in your saliva, gastrointestinal fluid, stomach and pancreas, break down your food into small molecules that can be absorbed by your body. The three main types of digestive enzymes are amylase, protease, and lipase, but there are also many other helpful enzymes including cellulase, lactase, and pectinase. Each kind of digestive enzyme breaks down a variety of foods, which is why you need a whole range of them to properly digest all the different kinds of foods that you eat. Protease breaks down proteins, amylase breaks down sugars and starches, while lipase breaks down lipids. (Related: Digestive enzymes enhance nutrient absorption, gut health and longevity.)
If your body doesn’t have enough levels of digestive enzymes, this can cause a shortage of stomach acid. Without enough stomach acid, your body won’t be able to digest food properly. Poor digestion can also inhibit your body’s absorption of nutrients. Your body naturally produces these enzymes, but as you age, your enzyme production levels tend to gradually decrease. Autoimmune conditions and exposure to certain chemicals, such as fluoride, may also result in a deficiency of digestive enzymes.
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The good news is that if you have insufficient levels of digestive enzymes, you can increase these levels by taking supplemental digestive enzymes or eating food items that contain natural digestive enzymes. You can take the supplements to help alleviate the symptoms of a number of digestive disorders, such as leaky gut, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, liver disorders, diverticulitis, age-related enzyme deficiency, and low stomach acid. If you plan to take supplemental digestive enzymes, try to find a full-spectrum, high-quality blend that contains at least alpha-galactosidae, amylase, cellulose, lactase, lipase, protease and pectinase. Take these supplements just before eating to supplement digestion.
Foods that contain natural digestive enzymes
Supplements don’t have to be your only source of digestive enzymes. There are plenty of food items that you can eat to increase your digestive enzyme levels. Here are just a few of these food items:
- Kefir. Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is made by adding kefir “grains” consisting of yeast, lactic acid bacteria, and acetic acid bacteria cultures to milk. It is rich in lipase, protease, and lactase.
- Pineapple. When you take a bite out of a juicy pineapple, you might feel a slight stinging sensation in your mouth. This is actually caused by a group of digestive enzymes called bromelain actively trying to break down the tender skin inside your mouth. Powdered bromelain is often used to tenderize tough meats. It can also be used as a supplement to aid in the digestion of proteins.
- Miso. A staple of Japanese cuisine, miso is made of fermented soybeans with salt and a fungus called koji. The koji fungus is responsible for adding lactase, lipase, protease and amylase to the miso.
- Kimchi. If Korean cuisine is more of your preference, you can eat this spicy vegetable side dish. During the fermentation process, healthy bacteria is added, which can produce protease, lipase, and amylase.
Learn more ways to maintain healthy digestion by going to Health.news.