Are Digestive Enzymes Worth It?

Would you benefit from taking digestive enzymes?  Do you have gut intolerances, skin sensitivity, ligament issues (studies show decreased injury in humans when on a digestive enzyme), need immune support or other physical or emotional concerns?

Digestive enzymes are becoming popular supplements and a lot of their popularity is due to minimal side effects and intolerances and I often wondered if they were actually necessary and so I researched them and this is what I found.

First off, what are enzymes?  Enzymes occur naturally within the body and are specialized proteins that function as catalysts for almost all cellular functions and chemical reactions throughout the body. Enzymes play a critical role in growth, healing, and reproduction. They are also necessary for breathing, thinking, immune function, hormone regulation, detoxification, and thousands of other biochemical functions. Enzymes are also necessary for digesting food nutrients and converting nutrients to energy in cells.

Many foods actually contain enzymes too but the body’s ability to constantly produce metabolic and digestive enzymes is limited by raw material availability and production capacity and the more we heat our food the more enzymes that get destroyed and that is even in a non-processed diet but a raw food diet is not for everyone’s cup of tea and let’s face it somethings need to be cooked.   If our diets do not include sufficient food enzymes to break down the food we eat, our body’s endogenous enzyme resources must be directed toward the production of digestive enzymes to speed conversion of food to bioavailable nutrients this can then result in decreased levels of metabolic enzymes that are critical for optimal health and cell function. .
The breakdown of food starts in the mouth and continues along the intestinal tract, nutrients are released and can be absorbed across the intestinal barrier into the bloodstream so one of the main functions of digestive enzymes is to increase the bio-availability of nutrients, in a nutshell how many nutrients are available out of the food you eat to you.  Now there are many reasons that digestive enzymes may be lacking and some are concerned with the pancreas or maybe a problem with the gallbladder  and that is really out of the scope for this blog.  However, other reasons such as alcohol abuse,  micronutrient deficiency, a diet high in refined carbohydrate, too little or too much exercise but it may be individual food sensitivities, chronic gut infection or inflammation or repeated antibiotic exposure which affects gut microbial, digestive and liver health.  Then there are emotional stresses too.  Pregnancy can also result in decreased digestive enzymes due to the extra demands placed on the body as well as unfortunately ageing because that leads to a decline in pancreatic and digestive function.

This decrease can result in loads of different symptoms because when you think about If you're not digesting your food properly it's going to have repercussions throughout the body now obviously much will be related to the gut but the wider impact of digestive enzyme deficiency could be to do with your immune system it could be depression, anxiety, pms, fatigue and then there is also autoimmune conditions and other more serious gastrointestinal ones. 

One of the other issues I see in a lot of patients is heartburn and indigestion and one of the common things to treat also hinders too!   Proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole and gaviscon relieve symptoms but you are then reducing or blocking the production of stomach acid which means some of the food can't be digested effectively and has a knock on effect for other digestive processes which then has a knock on effect on health in general.  

Once I started to investigate the digestive enzyme supplements I initially labelled as a fad I then started to appreciate and ultimately benefit from the benefits when I started taking them.

I never used to recommend Terrazyme until I appreciated this and saw the result, rest assured, I will only ever recommend something I truly believe in.  Terrazyme is a proprietary blend of active whole food enzymes that are supporting cofactors that support the body's constant production of enzymes that are critical for healthy functioning body processes.   DigestZen TerraZyme includes a variety of whole-food enzymes that help with the digestion of proteins, fats, complex carbohydrates, sugars, and fiber.  Enzymes include lactase which breaks down lactose in milk, Anti-Gluten enzyme blend that helps with that’s right gluten and Alpha Galactosidase which helps with legumes - you know the beans that we should all be eating but often have an unfortunate effect windwise!!

When choosing digestive enzymes it is important to know what you are buying and that what you are buying is effective and also safe.  
Potency of digestive enzymes is absolutely crucial because this actually demonstrates the amount of activity of each enzyme in a product and it's important to know the activity rather than just the weight because the weight tells you nothing about its activity for example a digestive enzyme supplement for example that has say 40 mg of lipase  you might think might be better than a smaller dose but it is actually the activity that counts.  So always use a digestive supplement that states enzyme activity as reported in the Food Chemical Codex  (FCC)  so that you are making an informed decision and can be safe in the knowledge of the activity of each enzyme has been carefully measured and standardised

Now this latter part is another  reason that I love Terrazyme from doTerrra because that is what is listed on the back of the bottle.  

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