Most of us know the obvious symptoms of indigestion such as bloating, tummy aches, constipation and gas. You’d be surprised to know that the following 10 symptoms of enzyme deficiency might also indicate the need for supplemental digestive enzymes …
10 Not-So-Obvious Signs of Enzyme Deficiency
1. Skin rashes and irritations. Incomplete digestion can lead to food sensitivities that manifest as skin problems.
2. Fatigue and drowsiness. When so much energy goes to trying to compensate for a lack of digestive enzymes, is it any wonder that a body feels unbearably tired after eating?
3. Bad breath. Our mouths are the beginning of a long digestive journey. Adequate enzymes, every step of the way, help keep breath fresher.
4. Irritability. We all know how cranky babies get with colic. As adults with indigestion get just as irritable.
5. Insomnia. Indigestion is noisy and painful. A happy calm yummy is crucial for a good night’s sleep.
6. High cholesterol. All the way back in 1958, Stratford researchers realised that low enzymes and high cholesterol were linked.
7. Weight gain. Fat utilisation is improved with enzymes, leading to less of it being stored in the obvious places – hips, belly, upper arms, thighs.
8. Food allergies. Without adequate protein digesting enzymes, undigested food particles leak through the intestinal wall, triggering food allergy symptoms.
9. Inflammation. Inflammation from injuries or arthritic conditions have been shown to respond well to the anti-inflammatory effect of bromelain.
10. Sinusitis. An increased incidence of sinusitis might be related to chronic inflammation in nasal mucous membranes.
Eat More Raw Foods for Better Digestion
Eating enzyme-rich, fresh raw fruits and vegetables is definitely the best prescription for good digestion. Ironically though, improving your diet can cause some temporary indigestion. Remember, it takes time for your body to adjust, especially when drastically changing your diet to include the extra fibre consumed by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Fibre-rich foods can cause gas and bloating until your body adjusts.
Fortunately, digestive enzymes – especially Enzyme-Force with Fibrazyme™ can help with the transition. Bon apetite!
10 Easy Ways to Improve Digestion
- Take Prairie Naturals Digestive Enzymes at every meal
- Breathe deeply and relax before beginning a meal
- Be thankful for what you are about to enjoy
- Eat an abundance of fibre-rich foods
- Eat more raw fruits and vegetables
- Drink more water (between meals)
- Go for a walk after a meal
- Chew effectively and for a longer period of time
- Sit down to eat
- Eat less
How Our Digestive System Works
Just imagine a 30-foot maze-like passageway winding its way through the centre of your body. This miraculous food transport system is your digestive tract. The digestive tract, also called the gastrointestinal tract, has numerous connecting points along its route where food is broken down into simpler chemical forms (nutrients) by specialised enzymes. Digestion and absorption of macro-nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) and micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are dependent on enzymes and by the health of the duodenum.
The Mouth & Stomach
The smell and sight of appetising food is the first signal the digestive system receives to begin the amazing process of digestion. Even before the first morsel of food enters your mouth, the digestive juices start flowing.
With the first bite, ptyalin, an amylase enzyme in saliva, begin the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose. Chewing food well (some experts recommend 100 times per bite) promotes better digestion even before food enters the stomach where the most active chemical digestion begins. Stomach muscle contractions assist the digestive process by kneading the partially digested food while gastric juices containing hydrochloric acid (HCI), pepsin, rennin and water begin the protein-digesting process. Some fat, and to a lesser degree, carbohydrates (which have been converted to sucrose) are also partially digested at this phase of the digestive process.
This potent mix of chemicals is so strong that the stomach’s membrane lining secretes a protective mucous barrier to prevent these corrosive gastric juices from damaging the walls of the stomach. Without adequate mucosal protection, the stomach lining would be burned by its own acids, creating painful stomach ulcers. Digestive activity in the stomach lasts from one to four hours per meal depending on the combination and amounts of food ingested.
Liquids pass through the stomach most quickly; next come carbohydrates, then proteins, and finally fats. The secretion of intrinsic factor is another important function of the stomach. This protein substance is absolutely necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12 during the next stage of digestion in the small intestine. The pyloric sphincter at the base of the stomach opens to release this mash of semi-digested food, called chyme, into the small intestine.
The Small Intestine
There is not much that is “small” about the small intestine. In fact, this 20-foot section of the digestive tract is charged with achieving a huge task – the unlocking and absorption of micro-nutrients from macro-nutrients. The activity of enzymes in the small intestine is supported by enzymes contained within the food we eat or enzyme supplementation we take. Over the course of approximately three hours, the small intestine, with the aid of the pancreas, liver and gall-bladder, breaks down proteins into amino acids, carbohydrates into simple sugars, and fats into fatty acids.
As chyme enters the small intestine, the pancreas, nestled below the stomach, contributes alkaline pancreatic juices necessary for the successful completion of the digestive process. These juices contain numerous enzymes.
If fats have been eaten, the gall-bladder releases the bile it has stored. Bile is produced by the liver and is not really an enzyme, but rather a fat emulsifier that separates fat into small droplets that pancreatic enzymes break down for absorption.
The small intestine is comprised of three sections, the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. Each of these sections absorbs different nutrients through the intestinal walls. For example, calcium, vitamin A, thiamine and riboflavin are absorbed by the duodenum. The jejunum absorbs fat and the ileum absorbs vitamin B12.
The Large Intestine
Basically used as a holding tank for waste produced through the digestive process, the large intestine, also referred to as the colon, is largely an elimination organ, although vitamin K, water and some electrolyte minerals are absorbed in this final section of the digestive tract. A great many bacteria live in the colon, some of them friendly and beneficial, and others, harmful and disruptive. Inadequately digested food substances can be absorbed by the body as toxins or can feed noxious intestinal bacteria.
Proper elimination of waste and bacteria from the colon is dependent upon a high fibre diet, adequate water intake, healthy intestinal flora and complete digestion of food. Fibre literally binds toxins and aids their passage through the colon while water encourages smoother elimination. Fibre also encourages the growth of healthy intestinal flora (probiotics).
Having a clearer understanding and deeper appreciation of the way our bodies process and utilise the foods we eat will ideally help us be more mindful of the choices we make that affect this daily miracle that we simply call “digestion”. Bon appetite!