Digestive enzymes aid in the absorption of nutrients and assist in the breaking down of the food particles you eat. This process allows the food that you eat to be used as energy, to support the building of new muscle and nerve cells, as well as protecting your blood from toxins. Inadequate enzyme production can lead to digestive discomfort, gas, bloating, low energy and allergy-like reactions to food. The three main categories of digestive enzymes are amylase, protease and lipase.
Amylase in needed to break down carbohydrates, including whole grains, white flours, sugars and starchy vegetables. Amylase is found in pancreatic and intestinal juices, but is also found in your saliva. This means that the digestive process of carbohydrates actually begins in the mouth, making chewing your food really well even more important.
Protease helps you to digest protein. The proper digestion of protein is vital. Undigested protein particles can pass through your intestinal wall and end up in your bloodstream. This process is called "leaky gut syndrome" and can cause allergic reactions ranging from fever to abdominal pain. Proper absorption of protein in needed for energy and the rebuilding of muscle and cell tissue.
Lipase is what allows your body to properly digest fat. Lipase is found in many foods that contain fat. Choosing the right healthy fats allows your body to burn fat more efficiently. Your body needs both the lipase produced in your stomach and pancreatic juices, as well lipase from food sources, in order to optimally use the nutrients from the fat you eat.
- Ask Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen: What are three causes gastrointestinal problems
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 3rd Edition", Phyllis A. Balch, CNC; 2000