by Will Grumke June 01, 2020 6 min read
Have you ever heard of digestive enzymes?
Do you know what they do?
In this article, we’ll explain what digestive enzymes are, where they come from and what they do.
We’ll also explain how you can help improve digestion and could possibly benefit from consuming more of them as well as how they’re different from probiotics.
Enzymes are substances that are produced by living organisms. These substances act as a catalyst for different chemical reactions that need to happen in the body.
Most of these chemical reactions are used to transform substances your body can’t use, into substances that your body can use.
Simply put... enzymes help your body take materials/substances and turn them into something more useful.
In the case of digestive enzymes, these substances help aid the body with proper digestion of the foods, supplements and drinks you consume.
Overall helping to have good digestion.
Digestive enzymes are able to help your body break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into smaller, usable substances.
They break down larger proteins into amino acids that your body can then use.
They can also help break down complex carbs until it’s just glucose which can then be put in the bloodstream.
Without digestive enzymes, your body can’t efficiently process and use the food you’re giving it. Which is unfortunate because that means anything you consume like your protein shakes are less effective, as well as your healthy meals.
Without the right amount of digestive enzymes, your body can even become less effective at recovering and building itself up after a strenuous workout.
Your body makes digestive enzymes. However, due to lifestyle factors, the world we live in, and the food we eat ... many people have digestive issues because their body does not produce adequate amounts of digestive enzymes.
Aging, stress, and poor nutrition are three major reasons your body tends to slow enzyme production – and this means the food you eat doesn't break down properly and your body can't get the nutrients it needs.
This can lead to a situation of "overfed but undernourished" ... as well as bloating, gas, constipation, and many other negative consequences.
There are three main types of digestive enzymes.
Lipase – Lipase is made by your pancreas. This enzyme is designed to break down fats into fatty acids and glycerol.
Because of this, it plays a crucial role in fat digestion and lipid transport.
Amylase – Amylase is found both in your saliva and pancreatic fluid. Amylase is used to break down the carbohydrates you eat.
More specifically, Amylase is used to convert starches and glycogen into simple sugars.
Salivary amylase is the first step in the digestion of food. So if you have ever heard that chewing longer, and eating slower can help with digestion... this is why!
Proteases – Proteases are enzymes that break down protein resources into various amino acids and peptides.
Amino acids are the basic building blocks that your body uses to make its own proteins and carry out many functions inside the body.
Now that you know what digestive enzymes do, the way they benefit your body might be pretty obvious.
But there are still additional benefits to having a healthy amount of digestive enzymes in your system.
Here are some of the additional benefits you get out of digestive enzymes:
Less stress on your digestive system – When you eat, your digestive system starts going to work. Think of it as the stomach and intestine equivalent to a good workout.
However, the less efficient your digestive system is at breaking down your foods and supplements, the more stress it’s going to experience doing its job. A stressed digestive tract is an inefficient digestive tract.
Increases nutrient absorption – Not only are your digestive enzymes breaking down fat, carbs, and proteins, but they’re also helping your body get the vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients it needs to operate it's best!
If your body contains a healthy amount of digestive enzymes then it can better utilize these micronutrients.
This makes biological processes like calcium and vitamin D absorption easier.
Supports good gut health – Everyone’s heard of gut health by this point. Your digestive tract is a microbiome that needs to be taken care of so it can take care of you.
Having good digestion with the right amount of digestive enzymes such as lipase, amylase, proteases, and peptides can help keep your gut healthy and happy.
Good gut health will lend itself to a variety of other health benefits from improved immune function to less bloating to an improved mood!
Improves skin and tissue health – There are many vitamins and nutrients that are absolutely essential to you having healthy skin.
Every kind of body tissue needs macronutrients and micronutrients to look and feel healthy.
Digestive enzymes and good digestion plays a major role in improving every kind of body tissue, including skin and hair.
Can help strengthen your immune system – As your body is better able to digest its own vitamins and nutrients, you can have improvements in your overall health.
This can also help with improving your immune system and immune response.
Vitamin C, Zinc, and other micronutrients are all necessary for a proper immune system. The better your body can digest the foods containing these vitamins, and then absorbing them, the more efficient your immune system will be at combating sickness.
Oftentimes, digestive enzymes and probiotics are marketed towards people with similar nutritional needs, but they’re not the same.
Digestive enzymes and probiotics can have a synergistic effect on the body and work well together and are both in some supplements like Opti-Greens 50.
The differences between digestive enzymes and probiotics include the following:
One is alive – Probiotics are living bacteria. More specifically, they’re good bacteria that your stomach needs for good gut health. Enzymes are not alive.
Enzymes are substances that different living organisms produce to help aid your body in digestion.
They do different things – Digestive enzymes are able to help your body break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into smaller, usable substances.
It’s also why digestive enzymes are found throughout the body. You need some form of enzyme at every stage of the digestion process.
Probiotics, on the other hand, don't break down food molecules.
Probiotics do however play a variety of crucial roles inside the digestion process and health of your gut.
Helping with vitamin and mineral absorption, hormone production, alleviating intolerances and sensitivities, help with energy, encourage enzyme production and more!
You get them from different places – Your body doesn’t produce probiotics. These are bacteria that have to be ingested.
Enzymes are produced by the body. Your pancreas and other organs create them. You can also get additional enzymes from the foods that you eat!
You can also look into digestive enzyme supplementation to help improve digestion, your health, and your results!
There are some foods that naturally contain higher amounts of digestive enzymes.
These foods include:
All of these foods can be beneficial for getting in more digestive enzymes to help improve digestion and gut health.
But depending on your body's ability to produce digestive enzymes, and how many of these foods you do or don't eat ... you still may not have a healthy amount of digestive enzymes for proper digestion.
This is where using a high-quality digestive enzyme supplement can help give your body what it needs for proper digestion, improved gut health, and ultimately overall health.
Digestive enzyme supplements are excellent because they offer you enzymes in more effective doses.
This is the ideal way to supplement your body’s own enzyme production. It’s can also be better for helping you to hit your macros for the day or your nutrition plan as a whole.
Some of the foods that are naturally rich in digestive enzymes have lots of sugar and/or calories. An enzyme supplement gives you the benefit of digestive enzymes without all of those added calories.
Not only are supplements more convenient for you, but they come in controlled doses, so you don’t consume too many by accident. Which could lead to some stomach discomfort.
Supplements will help make sure you’re taking the right amount of enzymes for good digestion. Helping to maximize the benefits you will receive from sticking to your nutrition plan!
Personally, I have been using our digestive enzyme supplement for almost a year now at 2-3 meals throughout the day. Which has made a big difference in helping me overcome the stomach discomfort I was having after eating a meal and I notice I just feel better overall.
So if you're someone that is having some stomach discomfort, feel like your not really digesting your food well (feeling bloated, gassy, or uncomfortable after eating), or maybe not regular in the restroom...
And never forget, we’re always here to help the phamily look and feel their best! So if you have any questions, or need anything at all, we will help you for free!
Even if you don't use our products, if you want to improve your health or results and are willing to put in the work... we will always help you!
Come and check out our digestive enzyme supplements today!
NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer