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From gas and bloating to abdominal pain, heartburn and diarrhea, surveys show that 74 percent of Americans are living with digestive problems.
And when you consider the old saying, “You are what you eat,” it’s easy to understand why.
After all, we’re now a nation that eats an ever-increasing amount of processed foods — foods that have none of the active enzymes needed to help with digestion that you would find in a raw food diet. And to top it off, even the fresh fruits and veggies we do consume are often grown in depleted soil, offering lower levels than they used to.
So what can you do to support healthy digestion that doesn’t involve radically changing your diet and growing your own food?
The answer is to add those digestive enzymes back to your life!
What are digestive enzymes and why do you need them?
First, let me answer why you may want other options than reaching for the typical solutions to ease your digestive symptoms, like heartburn or acid reflux…
They can actually make you feel worse and lead to health problems totally unrelated to why you took them in the first place!
Proton pump inhibitors have been linked to bone, lung and gut problems — not to mention vitamin B12 and magnesium deficiencies.
In a world where digestive complaints are at epidemic levels, enzymes are a natural, healthy choice that works!
You see, enzymes are what your body uses to convert the food you eat into the chemical substances it needs to perform its everyday functions, like…
- Nourishing your body.
- Maintaining your immune system.
- Making it possible for your body to process nutrients and energy.
- Breaking down and carrying away toxic waste from the body.
This is why enzyme deficiency is known to lead to digestive problems such as:
- Abdominal cramps
And since your gut plays a role in your overall health, lack of the proper enzymes to keep your digestion moving could even increase your risk of long-term issues.
The good news is that your body naturally produces these enzymes in your pancreas. Some of your body’s natural digestive enzymes include:
- Amylase – An enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates and starches
- Protease – A protein-specific enzyme
- Lipase – The enzyme that targets fats
The bad news is that your pancreas doesn’t always produce enough enzymes on its own to handle the food you eat.
Maintaining your digestive health
That’s why adding digestive enzymes to your diet is so important to supporting healthy digestion.
And two of the best enzymes to use for this purpose are bromelain and papain.
So how can you get more of these in your daily diet?
Well, bromelain is found in its natural form in the stem, juice and flesh of pineapples. This protein-digesting enzyme works to support digestive comfort after the consumption of common food irritants. And it’s even been shown to calm the fires of inflammation that can cause stomachache.
Papain, on the other hand, is found in papayas. Another protein-devouring enzyme, papain’s power comes from its ability to digest proteins and gluten peptides to help banish unwanted after-meal side effects like cramping, constipation, diarrhea, bloating and gas that come from eating wheat proteins.
Of course, if regular servings of pineapple and papaya fruit salad just aren’t on your menu, you can do like I do and choose to take an easy supplement offering both bromelain and papain.
But in addition to soothing run-of-the-mill digestive issues, be sure gluten is not part of your digestive trouble. Try to avoid gluten-containing foods or use proteolytic enzyme-containing supplements that break down gluten making it easier to digest.
Promoting healthy digestion doesn’t have to be worrisome, scary or complicated. Don’t you wish everything could be so easy?
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Gut reaction: A limited role for digestive enzyme supplements – Harvard Health Publishing
ENZYMES: A DEAD DIET’S NECESSARY COMPANION – ANN ARBOR HOLISTIC HEALTH
Benefits of Bromelain & Papain – SFGATE
What Are Digestive Enzymes? – WebMD
How concerning is the carcinogen in your heartburn medicine — Easy Health Options