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  • Writer's pictureMarcie Vaske, MS, LN, CNS

Digestive Enzymes and IBS: 5 Benefits

Video Transcript:

Digestive enzymes.

You may have heard of them before, but do you know really how they work?

This is one of my favorite type of supplements to help support the clients that I see with their digestion.

So what I want to do today is really jump into and dive into the fascinating world of digestive enzymes and how they can help you, everything from your digestive system to improving your immune system.

So today I'm going to explore the 5 benefits of digestive enzymes.

But before we dig in, my name is Marcie Vaske and I'm a functional medicine nutritionist with Flusso Nutrients at Flusso Nutrients. We strive to educate you on different supplements to kind of give you more information to help you make a more informed choice of your supplements that you are taking.

And as I don't know you or your conditions, it's always helpful to make sure if you have a question about anything, speak to a supplement literate practitioner to be sure that it's not contraindicating with any other supplements you are taking and of course medications.

So without further ado, let's dig into the five benefits of digestive enzymes.

Digestive Enzymes And Their Functions

So to begin to understand how digestive enzymes work, we first need to understand how digestion works.

Now, digestion is the process of breaking down our foods into smaller, more manageable components to be used by our cells.

Of course, this involves a complex series of events, and this is where digestive enzymes come into play.

Now, digestive enzymes are proteins that actually work as catalysts to speed up the chemical reaction that's also involved in our digestion.

What happens is that these digestive enzymes help to break down our macronutrients, so our proteins, our carbohydrates, and our fats, and they break them down so that our body is able to absorb the nutrients and of course then be used by our cells.

Digestive enzymes are a critical component to our digestion. If we are low in any of our enzymes, our body would struggles to get the nutrients out of the foods that we are consuming.

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Digestive Enzymes And IBS

And oftentimes if you are low in them, you may feel symptoms like bloating or gas, nausea, constipation, and even diarrhea.

And so a lot of symptoms can come out of just not having enough digestive enzymes, given the connection between digestive enzymes and IBS symptoms.

5 Digestive Enzymes Benefits - Nutrient Absorption

So as you may have guessed, the number one benefit of using and having digestive enzymes is going to be proper nutrient absorption.

And as the primary benefit of our digestive enzymes is to help break our macronutrients down into vitamins and minerals and other nutrients that our body needs.

If this is not done effectively, then our entire body can struggle because we need all of those vitamins and minerals and different nutrients to help support all the systems in our body as well.

5 Digestive Enzymes Benefits - Reduce Digestive Discomfort

The second most important benefit of having adequate digestive enzymes is going to be reducing that digestive discomfort.

If you are unable to digest your food properly in your stomach, you're going to have a lot of undigested food that gets into your small and large intestine, which creates a fermentation process and increases bloating and gas and just that abdominal discomfort.

So by incorporating or having enough digestive enzymes, you're definitely going to reduce some of those symptoms.

5 Digestive Enzymes Benefits - Immune System Support

Now the third benefit of digestive enzymes is maybe kind of a surprising one, but it actually helps to support our immune system.

Roughly 80% of our immune system is in our digestive system, and so when we have enough digestive enzymes, it breaks down our foods and gets our minerals and vitamins and nutrients out, which of course then supports this immune system in our gut.

But if we don't have that proper breakdown, what happens is that it sets up more of an inflammatory state in our digestive system, creating a less integrity of our intestinal tract and perhaps more of this leaky gut sensation or symptoms.

And so by having proper digestive enzymes, it reduces the reactivity of our immune system in our intestinal tract and helps us feel less symptomatic.

5 Digestive Enzymes Benefits - Energy

The fourth benefit of digestive enzymes is it helps to really keep up our energy levels.

As I said, when you're breaking food down properly, you're getting out all of the nutrients from your food.

However, if you don't, some of those minerals and vitamins and nutrients that we get from the food that we consume is not able to feed ourselves properly.

Therefore, if we have less food for ourselves, then we have less energy in all of our cells is where we create our energy. And so we need to have proper function of certain minerals and vitamins to support this.

ATP process is what it's called, which is our energy within the cell.

5 Digestive Enzymes Benefits - Weight Management

The fifth benefit to having proper digestive enzyme function is actually in weight management.

And the way that this works is if we don't have proper digestive enzyme breakdown of our foods, then there leaves a lot of undigested fats, carbohydrates that aren't being utilized properly by the body and therefore can impact not only our digestive system and our gut microbiome, but therefore our weight.

And so by making sure that you're really getting out the nutrients from your foods by having proper digestive enzyme function, it's going to keep you at a more healthy weight for yourself.

Best Natural Digestive Enzymes

Now, there are ways to incorporate natural digestive enzyme from food, and so it doesn't always have to be done by consuming or by taking a supplement.

Some foods that are really helpful that are higher in brolin and papin are going to be foods like pineapple, papaya, kiwi.

Those are all going to be increased in our digestive system when we eat them and therefore help break down our carbohydrates properly.

But if you feel like you need extra more support than just a support around breaking down carbohydrates, well, it is optimal to take a digestive enzyme supplement.

Digestive Enzymes Leaky Gut

When you're looking for a digestive enzyme supplement, be sure it's pretty broad spectrum.

So it lists many different kinds of those enzymes that are used to break down those foods.

Things like protease, maltase, lipase, and that's just a few of the major ones.

You can also find some that have hydrochloric acid, and you'll see that listed as betaine, which can be really helpful as well as increasing the acid component, our acid component in our stomach.

Sometimes when we have low digestive enzyme function, we also have low acid as well.

And so the best way is just to look for one that's broad spectrum and make sure that you're going to cover all the angles.

If you choose to take a digestive enzyme, the best way to take it is usually to start by taking one or two capsules, 10 to 15 minutes before your food or before your meal, and you take it with every meal, not just breakfast in the morning and dinner at night. Make sure that you take it every time you have a meal.

You don't have to do it when you take snacks, but staying around that 10 or 15 minute mark before your meal is going to be best.

And I will say that, and then I'll also say that everybody is different.

So sometimes people do feel better when they take those enzymes after they've taken a few bites of food and then take their enzymes and complete the meal.

So you do a little bit of experimenting with it, but you'll find a rhythm that works for you and that feels the best.

So now you've learned a little bit more about digestive enzymes and you can now understand better what a remarkable function they have in our digestive system.

If you're feeling some of the symptoms that I talked about, you might be a candidate for supporting yourself a digestive enzyme supplement (see some quality options below).

And if you don't want to go that far right away, please increase some of those foods that I discussed to help just bring up some of that enzymatic function.

Also, enzymes are going to be safe for most people. If you have questions about anything, please talk to a supplement literate practitioner to make sure that it is right for you.

But again, I hope that helped you a lot and here's to better gut days.

Thanks for joining.

Supplement options discussed above and in video:

1) General Multi-Enzyme Complex:

3) Bromelain/Papain Enzyme Formula:


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