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What are digestive enzymes?
Good digestion is key to health and well-being. I’d never considered if there was a way to enhance, improve or support my digestive system until I decided to add ultra fine oats to my diet – I had introduced consuming 100 grams of oats several times a day and was concerned whether this would impact the efficiency of my digestive system (a typical serving of oats is around 30 grams). This led me to realizing the benefits of digestive enzymes.
The digestion process is not just supported by stomach acid to break down food, but also enzymes. Enzymes are special proteins that act as catalysts to help break down a specific element in the body. For example proteases have the function of breaking down proteins. The protein would begin as a chain which the body cannot make use of, however the enzymes would break them down into small amino acids similar to unlinking a chain.
The different roles of enzymes.
Other enzymes have different functions for example lipases break down fats, and amylases break down carbohydrates. I learnt amalayse is an important digestive enzyme produced in the salivary glands when we chew food, in order to begin the breakdown of starches into simple sugars. Digestive enzymes are found in raw fruit and vegetables such as pineapple, papaya, mango, honey, bananas, kiwifruit, carrots, spinach and fermented food such as sauerkraut (fermented cabbage).
There were also metabolic enzymes which are produced by the body, and active in the cells, tissues and bloodstream that are responsible for processes in our systems that allow us to survive. For example being able to breath, walk, talk and hear wouldn’t be possible without metabolic enzymes.
Types of digestive enzyme supplements.
To ensure I was able to digest the ultra fine oats efficiently, I supplemented with digestive enzymes. There are various enzymes such as ones from animal sources which are derived from their pancreas. However, plant / fungal enzymes are more stable in the stomach (acidic) environment than animal sources. Therefore I chose a digestive enzyme derived from a mushroom source which I added to every oat serving (100 grams), and before each meal.
The benefits of digestive enzymes.
As soon as I supplemented with these enzymes, my digestion improved, and I experienced a sense of increased well-being. I was also able to add more ingredients to my pre-workout shake without needing to use a blender. I noticed that the enzymes helped to break down the actual ingredients in the shake to a thinner consistency.
There is evidence suggesting enzymes can aid health, and give us other benefits such as decreasing inflammation, and help fighting cancer.
Given these benefits, I intend on continuing to supplement with digestive enzymes as a daily part of my health regime!
All information in this article is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Bohagar ,T (2008). Everything You Need To Know About Enzymes (Kindle Edition). Florida: One World Press.
Kubala, J. (2018). Proteolytic Enzymes: How They Work, Benefits and Sources. Available: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/proteolytic-enzymes. Last accessed 05/10/2019.