You practice yoga, get a massage, meditate, go to the gym, even write about your feelings in a journal, but something still feels off.
You eat less red meat, limit your coffee, cut out sugar, but your energy levels are still not brilliant!
Mind, body and soul. A holistic approach and a beautiful balance.
I believe in a mind-gut connection and that they are linked on a 2-way street.
Your mind affects your gut health. Your gut health affects your mental health.
It is important to think about what you eat, but how about how you digest the food that you eat?
People have an idea of what digestive enzymes are, but not many have considered their crucial importance and the vital role they play in your optimal wellness.
What are enzymes?
Digestion doesn’t just take place in your stomach.
The pancreas produces a large portion of your digestive enzymes, plus the small intestine, stomach lining, liver, and salivary glands.
But these enzymes do not just digest food -they digest nutrients.
Digestive enzymes are responsible for breaking down food to extract nutrients.
They are then converted to:
- Amino acids from proteins
- Fatty acids and cholesterol from fats
- Simple and complex sugars from carbohydrates
- And other vitamins, minerals
This process is not a simple input-output.
Dozens of different enzymes work together along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to break down macronutrients from the foods you eat.
These nutrients are then sent through the blood to the liver.
They are then absorbed into the lymphatic system, which sends them to tissues, organs, and muscles.
This complex exchange is responsible for the body’s access to fuel.
Digestive enzymes affect factors for daily life that are often overlooked.
You can eat all the healthy food, but if you can’t absorb it well, not even the healthiest of diets will benefit you. Our bodies can only digest what it’s given.
High-fibre foods such as fruits and vegetables contain enzymes of their own that work with digestive enzymes in the body to break down foods faster and allow your body to access nutrients quickly for cell repair and growth.
Enzyme production can be adjusted to the composition of food consumed.
If a diet doesn’t include this pairing of essential enzymes, or if the body is unable to produce enough enzymes to promote healthy digestion and diverse microbial life, you can suffer from malnutrition.
This could lead to symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Thyroid issues
- Damage to hair, skin, and nails
- Mood swings
This is why maintaining a healthy diet is important to support the process of enzyme production.
Immune System Support
The autoimmune system, which protects us from pathogens and harmful components in the environment, may owe its efficiency to digestive enzymes.
As humans have evolved, enzyme production followed with microbial gut flora producing various enzymes to respond to different pathological and environmental threats.
This line of defence allows the body to recognize and eliminate many dangers before they can infect the rest of the body.
The Aging Process
Ageing affects the ability of the pancreas to produce enzymes.
As we age, our ability to adapt to changes in diet and nutrient absorption slows. In some, this can lead to chronic digestive ailments.
Though enzymes are not solely responsible for the ageing process, they play a large role in how nutrients reach the areas that need them.
Enzymes and Chronic Stress
Our enzymes could be telling us to slow down.
Chronic stress affects many people, but just because we always seem to be on the go doesn’t mean our food needs to be.
It limits the number of enzymes your body can produce as the brain attempts to eliminate the stressor before it can restart normal functions-like digestion.
This is a helpful reminder to slow down.
When we can’t digest our food, we can’t provide our bodies with nutrients.
Recurring bouts of anxiety can lead to indigestion and even pesky habits like comfort eating and snacking.
A simple change like sitting down for meals could provide a way to destress and allow our enzymes to provide break down those nutrients that will help us. Mindful eating is a crucial first step.
Enzyme production is linked to well-being and it is important to take them into consideration when planning for your health.
Certain foods like pineapple, mango, papaya, and honey have been used in Central and South America for centuries to regulate digestion and inflammation.
Sauerkraut and other pickled, preserved vegetables can help.
Kefir, kombucha and pre and probiotics can be added to your diet.
Most cultures include some kind of favourite food that helps with this. In our modern-day society, we are blessed to have access to many different types of food and cultural cuisine.
If you feel concerned about your enzyme production you can use supplements.
Make sure to check for quality ingredients that leave out fillers that could denature the enzymes.
Talk to your doctor if you are concerned or notice any changes in your bowel movements.
Remember to take care of your enzymes so that they can take care of you.
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