A Whole New Scientific Approach to Digestive Comfort – Mix and Match Enzymes for the Foods You Want to Eat
Love dairy but annoyed that it doesn’t love you back? Not sure that tempting dish on the menu is truly gluten-free? Need help digesting the fat in your ketogenic diet? Welcome to Dr Mercola’s revolutionary approach for proper digestion: Go broad, not deep. Select the suite of enzymes you need for what you choose to eat.
If you suffer with occasional bloating, gas, constipation, heartburn, upset stomach or other digestive concerns after eating, especially the foods you enjoy most, you are not alone.
According to a recent national survey of 2,000 adults, 74 % of Americans live with these types of common digestive symptoms. And then there are sensitivities to specific foods…
While a U.K. study found that gluten sensitivity may affect as much as 13% of its population, Americans report the highest numbers anywhere. A whopping 30% in one recent study say they avoid gluten because they believe they are sensitive to the protein.
Lactose intolerance is another food sensitivity that affects a large number of people. Approximately 65 % of the world’s population has a reduced ability to digest lactose in dairy.
As if experiencing occasional gut discomfort isn’t bad enough, the ill effects of food intolerance’s go even further. Bloating, excess gas, loose stools or constipation, and other digestive concerns may be telling you your body cannot break down the food you eat and properly absorb nutrients.
Dr Mercola believes that, in many cases, this doesn’t need to happen. By adding digestive enzymes that your body may be lacking, you may be able to help ease occasional complaints and more fully reap the benefits of the nutrients in your food.
The Role Digestive Enzymes Play When You Eat a Meal
Your digestive process starts in your mouth, even before you take that first bite of food, and continues in your stomach and small intestine.
Here’s how the three main groups of digestive enzymes help break down the components of your meal:
- Carbohydrases are enzymes that break down carbohydrates such as starches, sugars and cellulose into more easily absorbed sugar molecules. These include amylase, lactase, cellulose, and Beta-glucanase.
- Proteases are enzymes that break down intact protein molecules into individual amino acids for proper absorption. Examples of proteases are pepsin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, and peptidase.
- Lipases are enzymes that break down fats into easily absorbable fatty acid and glycerol molecules. Bile aids the actions of lipases by breaking the fat into small droplets. Lipases break down triglycerides, support gall bladder function, and improve fat utilisation by your body.
Once enzymes break down these macronutrients, the smaller molecules enter your bloodstream and play an important role in fuelling your body, boosting your metabolism, and even making your cell’s DNA.
Your body naturally produces enzymes to help digest foods, as detailed below:
In the mouth: Amylase (mono/disaccharides and Lipases (fats)
Stomach: Lipase and Pepsin (proteins)
Pancreas: Amylase, Lipase, Trysin, Chymotrypsin (proteins)
Small Intestine: Maltase, Sucrase, Lactase, Peptidase (proteins)
My Body Makes Its Own Digestive Enzymes – Why Do I Need Supplemental Enzymes?
Many factors can contribute to digestive enzyme deficiency, or a state in which your body doesn’t produce enough of its own enzymes to properly digest food.
A shortage of enzymes can especially be problematic when you eat a meal heavily loaded with carbs or fats or proteins.
Three of the biggest factors that decrease your body’s enzyme production include:
- Ageing can lead to reduced enzyme production
- Leaky gut through the impairment of your small intestines’ lining
- Inflammation from toxins, stress, and food sensitivities
Your natural enzyme production starts to decline at around age 20. By age 40, your production of enzymes drops about 25 % from that of your earlier years. You could be producing as little as a third of the enzymes you need by 70.
A leaky, damaged gut and an inflamed gastrointestinal tract can also cause an enzyme deficiency. When your gut lining wall becomes irritated or damaged (glyphosate is a potent gut destroyer), your production of enzymes can be impacted.
And when you don’t produce enough digestive enzymes and you are not taking a digestive supplement with meals you run the risk of depleting your body’s production of metabolic enzymes. That is not a good thing as every cell in your body requires enzymes to function.
For optimal digestion, you also need a highly acidic environment in your stomach. Pepsin and hydrochloric acid (HCl) help create this acidity. When you are young, your body produces enough of both to adequately digest your food.
As you age, your stomach acid levels drop. That can affect your digestion and lead to some of the uncomfortable symptoms we talked about earlier. So, ageing impacts your digestion in two ways with lower digestive enzyme production and lower stomach acid levels.
Maintain Your Stomach’s Acidic Environment for Optimal Digestion
If you make the mistake that many people do of taking antacids for what you believe is heartburn or acid reflux, you can actually make the situation much worse. Antacids do what they are supposed to lower acid levels in your stomach! Instead, do all you can to help maintain a healthy acidic stomach environment for optimal digestion, and take a digestive enzyme. This approach can help ease the contributing factors to acid indigestion.
Vitamin B12 is one nutrient that is especially impacted by low acidic levels. This essential vitamin, one that many people, especially older individuals, may be deficient in, can only be absorbed when you have sufficient stomach acid.
Enzymes, Betaine HCl, and probiotics can help maintain an acidic environment to aid your digestion.
- Digestive enzymes help break down your food
- Betaine HCl increases stomach acid to ensure complete digestion of proteins and fats, as well as absorption of amino acids
- Probiotics like acidophilus create lactic acid to help you maintain an acidic environment in your small intestine
Apple cider vinegar is another excellent way to boost acidity. Taken with your meal, such as on a salad, it helps acidify your stomach and improve digestion.
The Problems With Today’s Digestive Enzyme Formulas
There is a popular trend today with digestive enzymes and Dr Mercola believes it’s misguided for several reasons.
First, the makers of digestive enzymes assume that everyone needs the same dose and the same enzymes. Most likely you don’t eat exactly the same way as your best friend or your neighbour. And your body certainly works differently. Maybe you have food sensitivities that your friend or neighbour doesn’t. So why would you want to take the same digestive enzyme formula as them and everyone else? You are unique, and so are your digestive enzyme needs.
The second problem with many of today’s enzyme formulas is that they contain too high levels of specific enzymes. The majority of manufacturers formulate their enzymes on the premise of – more, the better. That misguided theory doesn’t apply to digestive enzymes. For enzymes to work, they must come in contact with food. Once you have the optimal amount of enzymes that your body needs to digest the food that is there, the rest is wasted.
Dr Mercola believes an enzyme formula should be broad based i.e. you want a wide variety of enzymatic activity. Enzymes are substrate specific. That is, each type of enzyme breaks down a very specific type of food. For example, Lipase breaks down fat while Pectinase breaks down pectins found in fruits and vegetables.
A small assortment of enzyme types just doesn’t get the job done. You want a broad array of different types of enzymes in the formula to break down a variety of foods.
Why You Want to “Go Broad, Not Deep” When It Comes to Digestive Enzymes
As above you have a wide variety of enzymes that work together to:
- Break down food molecules to digestible size for absorption in the small intestine
- Digest carbohydrates, proteins and fats in your diet
- Assist in the proper absorption of nutrients
Whatever your body cannot break down into an absorbable size will be excreted as waste.
If you are like the many people whose enzyme levels have decreased or become depleted, you may not be able to break down food adequately and benefit from their nutrients. And don’t expect to get the enzymes you need from your food. Unless you are eating a predominately raw diet, your food is mostly enzyme deficient. Processing and cooking at temperatures above 116 degrees F renders most naturally occurring enzymes inactive.
Supplementing your body’s enzyme production can help with the essential tasks of breaking down food molecules, digestion and absorption. At the same time, supplemental enzymes can help:
- Reduce minor discomfort and occasional bloating
- Alleviate that bogged-down feeling after a big meal
- Eliminate worry about occasional constipation or gas
However, if you took a digestive enzyme supplement that contained only a small handful of the types of enzymes your body needs (as is the case with many enzyme supplements), you will not fully benefit.
The addition of the Universal Energy Storage Molecule, ATP, so Your Body Wouldn’t Have to Do the Heavy Lifting
ATP, or adenosine-5‚-triphosphate, is your body’s natural energy source. It is in every cell of your body and plays an important role in cellular energy storage and transfer.
Unprocessed and uncooked foods contain ATP, and when you eat these types of foods, the ATP they provide plays a crucial role in digestion.
Most likely you are familiar with ATP as the energy currency of your cells. But is also serves a crucial role in your digestion that you may not be aware of is that inside your body, extracellular ATP (or the ATP that’s outside your cells) acts as important signalling molecules for your digestion. When you eat raw food, the ATP in that food signals to your body to start the digestive process.
Your gut contains enzymes called ATPases. When these enzymes find ATP, they digest it and this signals the body to start the digestive process. ATP influences gastric acid and pepsin secretions as well as stomach contractions.
An unprocessed, uncooked meal provides the ideal amount of these ATP signalling molecules to start the digestive process. Cooked or processed food does not. However, most meals today are processed so they contribute little or no ATP to initiate digestion. Instead, your body must waste precious resources by excreting its own ATP into your digestive tract for that signalling.
Your body has come to expect this extracellular ATP from a healthy diet. When you don’t get ATP from the food you eat, and you don’t provide it through supplementation, your body has to pay the price. This is why it was felt so important to add ATP to their range of digestive enzyme formulas…
One-of-a-Kind Flagship Digestive Enzyme Blend: All-Vegan Full Spectrum Enzymes
Scientifically formulated Full Spectrum Enzymes contains a very broad range of enzymes derived from plant, bacterial and fungal sources to help digest different types of foods, and to digest them quickly:
- A Full Spectrum pH Protease Blend of four different proteases to work at the different pH’s in your digestive tract, in order to break down proteins into smaller polypeptide fragments and amino acids. This supports the proper digestion of and immune system response to proteins in the diet
- A Cellulase Blend of two different cellulases to break down cellulose (a carbohydrate) and cellulose derivatives into smaller polysaccharides and glucose, and to help free up plant nutrients
- A Lipase Blend of two different lipases to break down triglycerides, support proper fat utilisation and gallbladder function
- A Plant-Derived Enzyme Blend of bromelain and papain from pineapple and papaya (stems only to minimise allergenic response) to promote the complete digestion of proteins in a broad range of pH levels
- Beta-Glucanase to break down the beta D-glucans or polysaccharides in grains
- Glucoamylase to convert starch into glucose for energy
- Amylase to break down carbohydrates, such as starch and glycogen
- Diastase to degrade maltose to glucose
- Lactase to break down lactose or the sugar in milk into its components sugars, glucose and galactose for utilization by the body
- Pectinase to break down carbohydrates, such as the pectin in fruits and vegetables
- Xylanase to break down the xylose-containing polymers in wheat, oats and barley
- Alpha Galactosidase to help digest gas promoting carbohydrates, such as those found in legumes and cruciferous vegetables
- Peptidase to release amino acids from proteins and polypeptides
- Phytase to support proper mineral absorption and to break down phytic acid, an indigestible form of phosphorus
- Hemicellulase to digest soluble fibres in plant cell walls and to release nutrients bound in fruits and vegetables
- Invertase to split sucrose into glucose and fructose so they can be utilised
- ATP for digestive signalling
That is a total of 22 different enzymes plus ATP!
Here’s another very important benefit of this unique vegan formula that you won’t find in most enzyme formulas – Full Spectrum Enzymes works at a wide range of different pH’s throughout your digestive tract to cover various phases of digestion. This helps ensure the rapid digestion of food and helps relieve occasional bloating, gas and intestinal discomfort.