Dear Health Conscious Reader,
You sit down to a fine meal. A couple hours later you develop heartburn, and you reach for an antacid. One doesn’t work. So you take another. You’re bloated, gassy, and miserable. Nothing helps, so you try to go to sleep. Then at 3 a.m., you wake up with the worst burning pain you can imagine.
Clearly, antacids are not the answer.
Here’s some good news… sometimes heartburn and other digestive problems are solved by digestive enzymes.
Digestive enzymes speed up your digestion so food moves quickly through the stomach to avoid indigestion. When you don’t have enough digestive enzymes, food stays in your stomach, and acid pushes up through the esophagus and burns. That’s why they call it acid reflux.
You get enzymes two ways. Your body makes them, and they’re in the food you eat.
Your pancreas and other organs make about 22 digestive enzymes. Each one has a specific role in the digestion of protein, carbohydrate, sugar, and fat. For example:
- Protease digests protein.
- Amylase digests carbohydrates.
- Lipase digests fat.
- Cellulase digests fiber.
When we’re born, we have more than we need. But once we’re in our 20s, our ability to produce enzymes drops off about 13% every 10 years.1 This means you need to find another way to get them if you want to maintain good digestion.
Lucky for us, you can also get enzymes from food. Raw foods contain millions of enzymes. Plant enzymes strengthen your digestion by taking the place of those you lose as you age.
Nature is designed to give you all the enzymes you need, simply by eating food. Our ancestors ate meat within minutes of hunting, and it was rarely cooked. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and berries were plucked from the trees and ground and devoured on the spot. Food was so chock full of enzymes that ancient man more than likely never suffered from heartburn.
Unfortunately today, we rarely pull an apple from the tree and munch on it. Instead, food is commercially farmed on enzyme-depleted soils. Then we process, cook, and microwave food, which destroys enzymes even more.
To help your digestion, try to increase the amount of enzymes every chance you get:
- Eat a variety of raw fruits and vegetables every day. If an organic farmer’s market is available, visit it once a week so your food is as fresh as possible.
- Make sure you don’t overcook foods, and eat raw vegetables and fruits with each meal.
- Try to eliminate freezing and reheating. Make just enough for the meal.
If you’re not able to get enough fresh, raw food with nature’s enzymes into your diet, the next best option is to get some digestive help from supplements. They’re available at your local vitamin store. Make sure you ask for “plant enzymes.” They’re well worth it.
For most people, I recommend looking for a supplement that contains protease for protein, amylase for carbohydrates, and lipase for fats. If you have a problem with dairy, you may also want to add lactase. You should take any enzyme supplement with a meal.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
- M., Kanbak, G., Sunal, E. “Antioxidant enzyme activities and malondialdehyde levels related to aging.” Clinica Chimica Acta. 2001; 305(1-2):75-80.