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What Are Digestive Enzymes & How Do They Work?

Updated on January 29, 2016

Digestive Enzymes are growing in popularity and are being hailed as a cure for all sorts of digestive disorders. This article will give you a little more insight into what digestive enzymes are, and why their use is growing so rapidly.

Indigestion On The Rise

Due to the unhealthy nature of our modern western diet, more and more of us seem to be suffering from indigestion. When faced with indigestion the initial reaction of most people is to turn to antacid pills like Rennie or histamine-2 blockers such as Zantac. Actually, though, turning to these pills is possibly one of the worst things you can do for your digestive system.

Why Do We Get Indigestion?

Our digestive systems were never designed to deal with an extremely high fat, high protein diet like the one we eat today. We also consume far more wheat, dairy products & cooked foods than it is considered healthy to eat. The over consumption of all these foods has exhausted the digestive system of the average American.

Digestive enzymes play a huge role in the digestive process. When you take food into your body, several organs start to produce digestive enzymes which break that food down into a form the body can use. This then allows your body to make use of the energy and nutrients the food contains.There is however a limit to the amount of digestive enzymes your organs can produce at any given time. The amount of digestive enzymes the body produces also declines with age.

When you eat healthy plant based foods like fruits and vegetables, these foods come with their own supply of digestive enzymes to help the digestive process along. This is not the case with many of the high fat, processed snack foods & high protein foods most of us over consume today. The processing of food completely destroys all the digestive enzymes it contains. Over consumption of these foods depletes the level of digestive enzymes within the body which hinders the digestive process.

The feeling of acid indigestion is caused by undigested food remaining in the stomach for longer than it should. Whether acid indigestion is caused by an excess of stomach acid or a lack of stomach acid is up for debate but one thing is for sure, if your stomach didn't produce this acid or it was inhibited from doing so, undigested food would remain within the stomach literally rotting away until it was able to be excreted. You can now see the problems that can be caused by standard acid indigestion relief pills like Rennie or Zantac. In different ways these pills act to counter the effects of stomach acid or temporarily stop acid production altogether, meaning your stomach can't fully digest your food.

How Digestive Enzyme Supplements Can Help

If you're suffering from persistent indigestion it may well be due to an exhausted digestive system. In the same way that muscles get tired from overwork and lose their ability to produce energy, your digestive system may through overwork have lost its ability to produce the digestive enzymes required for proper food digestion.

There are two ways you can deal with this problem. Firstly you can change your diet so that it's less taxing to the digestive system. This will involve sticking as much as you can to a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, what I like to call 'Living Food'. These foods contain their own digestive enzymes which will aid in the digestive process. It's worth mentioning at this point that many experts feel that cooking your food actually destroys the digestive enzymes these vegetables contain.

The second way is to try supplementing with digestive enzymes to help your digestive system to fully break down your food. You might also find that your energy levels increase as your body is able to absorb more of the energy and nutrients your food contains.

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    • Janellegems profile image

      Janellegems 2 years ago from United States

      Great information to know. Digestive enzymes are definitely a more healthy way to deal with indigestion than antacid pills. My family and I have seen the difference it makes in our lives. Thanks.

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