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What You Need to Know About Digestive Enzymes
What are digestive enzymes?
While they're so small that we can't see them and might not think about them regularly, digestive enzymes are critical components of our gut health. Our general gut health impacts our wellness and quality of life more than we might notice at times. When we have enzymatic balance, our bodies perform better and feel better. Without that balance, we feel tired and may have digestive issues.
Are you feeling sluggish and bloated despite eating a whole food diet? Perhaps you struggle to make time for home cooking and rely on processed food and ready-made meals. In both cases, a digestive enzyme supplement like our VitaRx Enzyme Formula may help you get the most nutrition out of your food! Digestive enzymes are protein chains naturally produced in the body and secreted by the mouth, stomach, and pancreas. These are catalysts necessary for activating and accelerating chemical reactions that break down food in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In addition, raw fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods contain enzymes to support digestion.
How does digestive enzyme activity work?
The minute you start chewing your food, enzymes break down your food and ensure optimal nutrient assimilation. They target specific macromolecules—protein, carbohydrates, fats, or dietary fiber—and digest them into small, absorbable molecules that can enter your bloodstream. Enzymes ensure greater bioavailability of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars to help you produce energy efficiently and feel your best! A variety of digestive enzymes target different nutrients:
- Amylase, glucoamylase, lactase, maltase, invertase, and alpha-galactosidase digest carbohydrates into sugars
- Protease enzymes like pepsin, trypsin, papain, and bromelain digest large protein molecules into usable amino acids and peptide molecules.
- Lipase breaks fats down into fatty acids for easy assimilation
- Cellulase is responsible for breaking down indigestible fiber
- Phytase breaks down the anti-nutrient phytic acid to ensure optimal mineral absorption
Additionally, enzymes may prevent undigested particles from damaging the gut lining and passing into the bloodstream by ensuring optimal digestion of all food. This is great for regulating immune function and controlling a hyperactive immune response to food particles. Conversely, if you have an enzyme deficiency, it can negatively impact food digestion, which causes common symptoms like bloating and cramping.
Risk Factors for a Digestive Enzymes Deficiency (Signs of Digestive Enzyme Insufficiency)
If you experience digestive enzyme deficiency, it can negatively impact your quality of life and overall wellness, causing a few common symptoms and issues. Optimal digestive enzyme activity and production ensure that you obtain all the nutrient building blocks needed for a healthy body and mind. However, levels decline with age and are also impacted by:
- Eating a diet high in processed foods and low in raw fruits and vegetables
- Digestive conditions
- Low stomach acid
- An imbalance in the gut microbiome
- Pancreatic disease
- Certain medications
Signs of insufficient digestive enzyme activity and production may include food intolerances, passing undigested food, gas, bloating, frequent diarrhea, acid reflux, nutritional deficiencies, fatigue, dull skin and hair, and low mood. At VitaRx, we believe taking a comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement with meals could alleviate some of the pressure on your digestive organs and minimize unpleasant digestive symptoms. But, of course, before you try a new over-the-counter supplement or wellness product, discuss it with your healthcare provider or dietitian, particularly if you have a condition like pancreatitis, IBS, or malnutrition.
Health Benefits of Digestive Enzymes
Here are some of the proven health benefits of digestive enzyme supplements.
Supports Digestive Function
Poor digestion results in undigested food particles sitting in the digestive tract and rotting. This can irritate your digestive tract and cause other issues. Pathogenic bacteria molecules feed off these particles and proliferate, burdening the immune system and causing digestive issues like bloating, cramping, gas, and constipation. A 2014 study on digestive problems had them consume a dose of either the drug domperidone or a vegetarian enzyme supplement for five days. Both dosage treatments reduced digestive symptoms, but the digestive enzyme complex reduced abdominal pain more effectively (1).
Reduces Food Intolerances
Consuming a comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement could help alleviate symptoms of food intolerance like nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, weight gain, and other side effects. In addition, a combination of digestive enzymes, molecules, and nutrients can even help mitigate symptoms of digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn's disease. For example, research shows supplementing with the enzymes lactase and beta-galactosidase may reduce digestive symptoms caused by an intolerance to lactose from dairy products (2).
May Enhance Muscle Protein Synthesis
Research strongly suggests that enzymes have the potential to enhance the body's muscle protein synthesis. Digestive enzymes support the breakdown of dietary protein into the amino acid building blocks needed for optimal lean muscle growth or muscle protein synthesis (MPS). For example, a study looked at men who took 50 g of whey protein along with a blend of protease enzymes. Promisingly, total serum amino acid levels were much higher in those who took the digestive enzymes, indicating improved protein absorption (3).
When you have appropriate enzymatic activity, it can have a noticeable effect on chronic inflammation since key enzymes offer anti-inflammatory effects. When taken away from meals, research suggests certain digestive enzymes may soothe pain and inflammation in the body by breaking down inflammatory molecules. When the enzymatic activity has an inhibitory effect on these models, it can prevent associated pain and discomfort. Beyond that, enzymatic activity can also promote the body's antioxidant capacity. For example, a 2015 study in the Arthritis Journal found that the protein-digesting enzymes bromelain and trypsin were effective at soothing painful osteoarthritis in the knee as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (4).
Research has also found protein enzymes:
- Reduce pain and swelling after a minor surgery (5)
- Minimize exercise-induced muscle soreness and damage (6)
Make digestive enzymes part of your daily diet.
Okay, you knew it was coming... it's time for a shameless plug. Do you think the benefits of adding digestive enzymes to your daily diet could help? Digestive enzymes can improve your quality of life, combat digestive disorders, and help remedy malabsorption so you can feel your best each day. So, first, create a personalized daily vitamin pack that includes digestive enzymes and any other vitamins, minerals, or supplements you think could help. Then, start by adding digestive enzymes to your Kit here!
How It Works
Take the assessment! Tell us a little about yourself, your lifestyle and your health goals.
Select a recommended pack or customize your own assortment of supplements that meet your health goals.
We will send you an awesome dispenser box containing 30 personalized daily vitamin packs every month