You’re at your favorite restaurant. You’ve just been seated. Your eyes scour the menu: barbecue bacon cheddar burger, three-cheese macaroni, loaded steak fries, Cajun chicken alfredo. Your stomach grumbles and like one of Pavlov’s dogs, you start to salivate. Can you believe it? You haven’t even placed your order yet, but the process of digestion has already begun.
Your body is a miraculous machine that knows just what to do when you give it the fuel it needs to maintain health, upkeep your internal organs and systems, and recover from illness. But how does it all work and how do you keep it all from going wrong?
Our bodies are sensitive machines.
We’ve all heard the old adage, “You are what you eat,” but if we want to get technical (and we do, don’t we?), a more accurate credo would be “You are what you digest.” After all, eating is a superficial part of the process while digestion goes behind the scenes to perform the latent tasks that keep us going, literally. Ever tried making through an entire day’s to-do list on an empty stomach? It’s a drag.
Eating is a conscious, voluntary act we often do more for pleasure than practicality, and that’s typically where we run into trouble. Why? Well, the most pleasurable things to eat are usually the least healthy for you: processed foods high in fats and sugar. But you eat them for the experience, or convenience, and (un)fortunately you don’t have to give much thought to what happens afterwards. Your body simply picks up the baton (your meal) and starts running with it. That is, until the first cramp hits:
o bloating and gas,
o diarrhea, heart burn,
o weight gain (or loss)
Why is your body reacting this way?
Well, as miraculous as your body is, it can’t function at optimal capacity without your help. These adverse side effects are a result of kinks in the digestive process, often beginning with your general digestive health.
And what’s one thing all healthy digestive tracts have in common? You guessed it: digestive enzymes (enzymes that specifically aid in the digestion of food) and pancreatic enzymes (enzymes produced in the pancreas). Or, more accurately, the presence and quantity of naturally occurring or supplemented enzymes that are hard at work breaking down the foods we eat.
What is an enzyme?
The digestion of food is a process of biochemical reactions that serve to break macronutrients down into absorbable micronutrients. Essentially, enzymes disassemble the complex structures of our foods, reducing them to a molecular level which can then be absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine.
For the three major macronutrients—carbohydrates, proteins, and fats—there are certain digestive and pancreatic enzymes that, like specially designed keys, unlock or break down a certain type of food.
o Carbohydrates Key enzymes: salivary amylase and pancreatic
o Proteins Key enzymes: protease (pepsin, chymotrypsin, trypsin).
o Fats Key enzyme: lipase.
Of course, there are many different types of digestive enzymes and agents at play in the digestive process, but these players are key in the work of providing us energy, rebuilding tissue, and cleansing and replenishing our systems.
What’s the cause of poor digestion?
Poor digestion, or the malabsorption of life-sustaining micronutrients, (especially due to the below conditions) creates lasting damage that can lead to chronic conditions if left untreated, this includes:
o Auto-immune disorders (Hashimoto’s, Lupus, Graves, Sjogren)
o Acid reflux
o Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
o IBD diverticulosis (Crohn’s disease)
What can upset the balance of enzymes? A poor diet, illness, aging, and the use of antibiotics can all throw off the digestive process, which makes the work of maintaining a healthy digestive system an ongoing and unavoidable task. Remembering that you are what you digest, don’t put off consulting an expert if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of poor digestion. Make the decision to prioritize the health of your digestive and pancreatic enzymes today and start feeling better for years to come.
Food Enzymes assist the body with the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to help prevent and relieve occasional indigestion.
Has had Hashimoto's for 13 years. I am passionate, I live and breathe, helping you to overcome your struggles with weight, stress, and chronic health issues.