Essential for our gut health and, in turn, our overall wellbeing, we offer an insight into the importance of digestive enzymes.

Digestive problems are known to be among the most frequent reasons why we visit our health food store seeking support and solutions. We also know that, for a host of reasons, rising number of people appear to be suffering from IBS-related symptoms.

There’s no doubt that the foods we are eating and how we are eating them is having an effect, but it’s also important to consider if we could be missing important components that we require for a healthy digestive system – such as digestive enzymes.

This is so important because poor digestion has a huge knock-on effect to our health, including lowering our immunity, affecting our skin condition and potentially impacting our mind health.

What are they?

Digestive enzymes are important because they help to break down molecules from foods, such as fats, proteins and carbs. They are needed to break them down into even smaller molecules so that they can be easily absorbed.

They are produced at different stages along the digestive tract and if you don’t have enough of them to ensure adequate digestion, it can lead to indigestion, bloating and flatulence. 

Different enzymes have specific jobs and the three most common enzymes are proteases, which are required to break down protein into small peptides and amino acids, lipases, to break down fat into fatty acids, and amylases, which handle breaking down carbs into simple sugars.

If you don’t have enough of these digestive enzymes, you will not absorb food properly and this can lead to digestive-related symptoms.

How to obtain them

Certain foods contain digestive enzymes, including pineapple, honey, bananas, kefir and kimchi and so increasing your intake of these foods is always a good idea to provide yourself with some natural levels.

But many health experts would recommend you also take a digestive enzyme supplement, one that is of high potency. It is worth speaking to your health food store about any digestive concerns you have so they can advise you on the right supplement.

Specific benefits

Digestive enzymes play an important role in keeping the gut healthy, and most people could benefit from taking a supplement – especially when you consider that, long-term, undigested food can raise your risk of inflammatory bowel syndrome and food intolerances and those with digestive issues also make less enzymes.

This is especially the case for those with IBS-related symptoms, as it is known that a lack of these enzymes can be linked to the condition.

Digestive enzymes are also known to act as a deterrent for bacterial and yeast overgrowth in the small intestine, believed to be important for those specifically suffering with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, better known as SIBO. The enzymes known to be particularly beneficial for SIBO are proteases and lipases.

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