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One of the unpleasant but unavoidable realities for people as they age is there’s a whole lot of different bodily functions that don’t work as well as they used to. The digestive system is certainly one of them. By the time a person reaches their forties it’s fairly common to find you don’t digest your food quite as effortlessly as you used to. If you’re looking for a way to improve digestion then digestive enzymes may be something you’ll want to look into.
If you’re one of the many North Americans who gets bloating, gas, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea then you may find that digestive enzymes improve your digestion and help you get relief from these conditions. When the digestive system is in ideal health then glands in the mouth, stomach, small intestine, gallbladder, and pancreas all produce sufficient enzymes that are concentrated enough to allow for efficient digestion.
However, when any of these parts of the body start to work at less than optimal capacity then they often fail to produce enough of the digestive enzymes we need. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or inflammatory bowel disease can also be causes of chronic digestive inefficiencies.
So we’ll discuss some of the best enzymes here, as well as look at their role in how food is digested in the body in more detail.
Digestive enzymes supplements work exactly the same way that natural digestive enzymes do. They speed up chemical reactions that turn nutrients into substances that your digestive tract can absorb, and different types of them target different nutrients. Amylase breaks down carbs and starches, protease does the same for proteins, while lipase takes on the fats.
They can also be found in some of the foods you eat. Although only in foods that are all-natural and grow from the ground, meaning fruits and vegetables. For amylase and protease raw honey is an absolute dynamite source and many people who take digestive enzyme supplements add to the effectiveness of them by getting lots of honey in themselves too.
Mangoes and bananas are also an excellent source of amylase, and papaya has a protease called papain. Avocadoes are excellent for brain health due to their fats, and they are also a source of lipase. And it’s not only the Germans who should be fond of sauerkraut if they have digestive problems. This fermented cabbage dish develops digestive enzymes as it ferments.
These products can be in the form of enzyme pills, powders, or liquids. You can purchase these at most pharmacies or health / nutrition stores and grocery stores may also have them. Keep in mind however that many of these products are not regulated. As such you should do your research about whether or not you’re purchasing a quality digestive enzyme.
Be aware as well that your age, weight, and other specific factors will factor into how much of a digestive enzyme you should be taking, so it is best to discuss this with your physician or a suitable healthcare expert before starting to supplement your diet with them.
As for prescription products, Creon is a pancreatic enzyme that helps to improve digestion of fatty foods. Here’s more information about the best digestive enzymes as listed by a dietician.
The first thing we can say here with certainty is that eating more fiber – either soluble or insoluble – is an excellent way to improve your digestion and reduce your need for the use of digestive enzymes supplements. As a general guideline you should really try to eat at least one serving of fiber every 4 or 5 days, but taking a large amount of fiber at once is not a good idea.
You should probably also drink more water. Most people don’t get the 6 to 8 glasses that is the recommendation for good health. Water is an essential part of the digestion process.
Another good natural aid for digestion is ginger. It’s known to be able to reduce bloating and other digestive problems. Mixing dried ginger powder into different foods can be a good way to get these digestive benefits.
Another diet tip for better digestion is eating your vegetables whole with the skin on them. This goes for potatoes, beans, and legumes too. Another good choice is to eat yogurts that contain probiotics.