You’re asking a lot of good questions about digestive enzymes lately- here’s a little information. Digestive enzymes facilitate the chemical breakdown of food into smaller, absorbable components. Our bodies naturally produce various enzymes that encounter food at different places in the digestive process: first in the mouth, stomach, and finally, within the small intestine.
Getting older, eating too many processed foods, rushing through meals, and not chewing thoroughly because you’re on the fly contribute in some ways to decreased levels of digestive enzymes your body naturally produces. We’re all aging right? We can, however, slow down and make better choices about our daily intake. Without these enzymes, your body spends more energy digesting the food you eat (especially the highly processed foods) which can contribute to fatigue. Even more, low levels of these beneficial enzymes lowers the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and can also trigger inflammation in the gut which leads to a host of other issues.
In considering whether taking supplemental digestive enzymes might be beneficial for you, remember that the term “digestive enzymes” is a catchall that includes a variety of compounds with different purposes—similar to “vitamins” or “probiotics.” Just as it’s not wise to make assumptions about whether taking vitamins is beneficial (it would depend on which vitamin in which individual), so too with digestive enzymes: It depends on which enzyme and in what population. Once more, not one size fits all.
Be mindful that “enzyme deficiencies” should be evaluated and addressed with your daily dietary intake – continual supplementation isn’t the solution. To be honest, true digestive enzyme deficiencies are rare- and they generally occur in malnourished, ill individuals—not in gassy; but otherwise healthy people.
Kimberly Young MS CNS is a practicing nutritionist and educator in Dallas, Texas. Learn about her integrative approach and schedule online at https://kyoungnutrition.com.
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