How Do Digestive Enzymes Work?

January 2019 - Health & Wellness

Indigestion affects nearly one third of North Americans today. Symptoms such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea are common signs that you may be having trouble digesting proteins, fats, or carbohydrates in your food. This can harm your body and cause you to miss out on important nutrients and microelements that pass through your system unabsorbed.

Eliminating trigger foods from your diet can help, but isn’t foolproof. Supplementing your diet with digestive enzymes can help you gain the full nutritional benefits of healthy digestion – without uncomfortable symptoms.

Digestive enzymes and their functions

Digestive enzymes are a natural component of your body and are found in some foods. They are present in your saliva, pancreatic juices, intestines and intestinal microflora, where they help break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Different types of enzymes perform different digestive tasks.[1],[2]

Proteases are found in your stomach, pancreas and intestine. These are proteolytic enzymes, meaning they help digest proteins into smaller units – including gluten from cereal grains and casein from dairy products. When taken on an empty stomach, they can help reduce inflammation and support intestinal balance.

Bromelain and papain are other types of proteolytic enzymes that are found in pineapple and papaya fruit.

Lipase is an enzyme produced in your mouth, pancreas and stomach that helps digest dietary fats and oils into more absorbable forms.

Lactase is an enzyme found in your small intestine. It converts the lactose from dairy products into absorbable sugars.

Amylase is an enzyme found in your saliva and pancreas. It helps convert starches, glycogen and other carbohydrates from breads and pasta into simple sugars that you can readily absorb.

Cellulase and hemicellulase are enzymes found within your gut microflora. They work to convert indigestible plant-based carbohydrates and fibres into simpler molecules for your body to process. They also help release important nutrients, such as glucose for energy, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and macronutrients.

Pectinase is an enzyme found in many plant foods that also helps break down indigestible plant-based carbohydrates and fibres.

Alpha-galactosidase is a natural fungal enzyme that can be taken to help digest complex carbohydrates from vegetables and legumes.

Benefits of taking digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes promote healthy digestion and are particularly helpful for anyone dealing with enzyme insufficiencies or food sensitivities. They help your digestive tract properly break down foods that contain difficult-to-digest proteins, fats and carbohydrates. By releasing important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and macronutrients from your food, you gain more nutritional value from each meal. They also help relieve uncomfortable symptoms of indigestion and food sensitivities, such as gas, bloating, constipation and other complications.

Natural digestive enzymes

Natural Factors offers a variety of effective over-the-counter digestive enzymes, including new intensive-strength formulas that offer targeted relief for common digestive problems. These diet-specific formulas support optimum digestive health and maximum nutrient absorption, and reduce susceptibility to food sensitivities, allergies and yeast overgrowth.

ClenzDida™: Uses a unique enzyme blend that can be taken between meals to help break down trapped food particles in the intestines. This formula works to reduce yeast overgrowth and help the body’s natural cleansing process.

ReliefZyme™: Offers digestive support for wheat, gluten and dairy proteins – some of the most common allergens and offenders for food sensitivities and indigestion.

Keto Paleo MacroGest™: Provides enzymatic support for the complete digestion of protein-rich and high-fat foods such as dairy, eggs and meat.

Vegetarian MacroGest™: Provides a full spectrum of plant-based enzymes to support the complete digestion of foods common in a vegetarian diet. This formula is designed to reduce gas production due to FODMAPs (fermentable carbohydrates) such as those found in beans, grains and vegetables.

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