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Enzyme Importance

While enzymes are a staple in aiding digestive health issues, their benefits reach far beyond an upset stomach.

Americans have earned a stereotype of living their lives to certain extremes. From eating too much of the wrong foods, to being overcome with stress from working long hours and not getting enough sleep, many consumers are not taking care of themselves the way they should. In fact, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, 25 percent of Americans consume fast food on a daily basis. Diet,stress levels and a lack of sleep are among the many reasons that people begin to look for help. They know they need help with issues, but don’t know what to look for. They have irritable bowel syndrome, digestive issues or constipation and they say, ‘I need help.’ Yet most people don't know how much they need enzymes, especially with today’s diet. As consumers, we watch the cost of health care rise, and realize that many over-the-counter products only temporarily mask issues and, at times andca use unwanted side effects. Then we search for natural alternatives to help us get “back to normal.” .

Digestive Relief

We most frequently associate enzymes with their ability to aid the digestive system. Whether they hear about them on a television show or learn about enzymes through an internet search, we know that enzymes can aid the digestive system, but may not know the specifics. Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts by speeding up chemical reactions in the digestive system. Digestive enzymes break down macromolecules, such as carbohydrates, proteins and lipids (fats), into simpler molecules to facilitate the absorption of nutrients and therefore, they enhance the digestion of foods.

Not a “new thing,” the reality is that that enzymes have been around for some time. Digestive enzyme products date back to 1894 when the first patented process for the industrial production of an enzyme —Fungal Amylase— appeared on the market. Digestive enzymes are frequently recommended by doctors, especially for those with pancreatic deficiency. However with most of us not eating as well as we should (processed foods, fast foods and cooked food, which denatures enzymes), most of us can benefit from including a digestive enzyme product in out supplementation strategy.

Digestive issues are common among Americans; according to the American Gastroenterological Association, almost 60 percent of people said that they manage their digestive problems by avoiding specific foods and approximately 65 percent indicated that their problems are triggered by eating the wrong types of foods.

Beyond Digestion

While we may recognize the positive effect enzymes can have on the digestive system, we just don't realize how far the benefits can reach. Most of us are unaware of the fact that every biochemical function of life is controlled by enzymes. We know that the digestive process is run by enzymes but just aren't sure 'how'. Because the digestive system affects almost every other system in the body, enzymes can help with problems that a person would not think to be correlated. For instance, enzymes can be taken to help relieve some of the symptoms related to allergies—the enzyme mucolase can help speed the breakdown and removal of mucus, while the enzyme protease can aid the respiratory system by fighting off pathogens.

In addition, studies have shown that enzymes such as bromelain, trypsin and protease can support joint health and mobility, as well as help reduce inflammation. Enzymes can be very beneficial to fighting inflammation in the body, which has been linked to several degenerative bodily problems. Overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract can result in abdominal discomfort, indigestion, constipation, as well as muscle and joint pain.

Enzyme therapy goes beyond digestion. When enzymes such as bromelain, trypsin and rutin are taken on an empty stomach, away from food, the enzymes become absorbed in the small intestine and then activate alpha-2-macrogobulin-protease complexes. These protease complexes increase the binding capacity for certain cytokines, damaged proteins, amyloid beta peptide and fibrin. The binding and removal of cytokines and inflammatory mediators allow Th1 and Th2 cytokin balance and immunomodulation. This results in a healthy inflammatory state, which plays a positive role in many different health conditions.

Systemic enzymes (such as for inflammation and cardio health) have also gained in popularity due to their fibrinolytic properties, as well as antioxidants.

Beyond those functions, enzymes can also have an effect on everything from the immune system to cardiovascular health and weight management. The enzyme lipase, which digests fat, holds the key to support proper fat metabolism. A deficiency in the natural production of lipase may adversely affect the digestive system’s ability to properly use fat, impacting lipid metabolism and ultimately increasing fat storage.

There is still quite a bit of ground to cover before many of us fully grasp the intrinsic role healthy digestion plays with concerns such as energy, immune well-being, and whole-body health. In the near future, digestive enzymes will be accepted as a foundation product, and will have a place right next to multivitamins and antioxidants in our everyday regimen.

Bottom Line

Many health issues can be minimized by taking care of our digestive health. Enzymes help digest food properly, enhancing not only digestive health, but overall holistic health.

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of the author(s). Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the authors. You are encouraged to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.