The Story Behind Digestive Enzymes

September 2014, Xtend-Life Expert

Summary

Most of us don’t really think much about our digestive systems, unless they’re out of whack. We bite, chew, swallow and forget about it, feeling as though the big job is over. But that’s when our bodies really get to work, putting digestive enzymes into action to break down the food we just ate.

Most of us don’t really think much about our digestive systems, unless they’re out of whack. We bite, chew, swallow and forget about it, feeling as though the big job is over. But that’s when our bodies really get to work, putting digestive enzymes into action to break down the food we just ate.

By definition, digestive enzymes are proteins that are essential to the chemical breakdown of our food into smaller, more absorbable components. If we’re short on enzymes, some of the foods we eat aren’t broken down enough for the body to absorb the nutrients they offer, so we miss out on the good stuff our foods include.

There are several kinds of enzymes, including amylases, which break down starches into sugar, proteases, which break down proteins into amino acids, and lipases, which break down fat. The popular product Beano, for example, marketed as a way to relieve gas and bloating after eating healthy foods, is actually a digestive enzyme alpha-galactosidase, which helps break down the fiber found in beans, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. (Ref. 1)

Enzymes are found in every cell of the human body, and regulate not only digestion, but all aspects of the overall process of metabolism.

Why do we need them?

Despite their importance in metabolism, according to Dr. Edward Howell, considered the father of enzyme research, the number of enzymes each cell can produce is limited. To multiply our "enzyme store," we must replenish them from our food. (Ref. 2)

But in many cases, the foods we eat – such as the traditional Western diet of hamburgers and fries, pizza and the ubiquitous chicken nuggets – aren’t loaded with the digestive enzymes we need to break down foods properly, so we don’t feed our bodies in a way that will replenish our supply.

Not only that, since our bodies aren’t breaking down even junk foods properly, we aren’t able to reap the minimal nutritional benefits such items offer, because we are unable to absorb them all.

The result is a lose-lose situation, and our bodies – and energy levels – ultimately pay the price.

Since our focus at Xtend-Life has always been on total health, we have long included digestive enzymes in our Total Balance product line – not only as a way to help break down the foods we eat, but also to help ensure that all the essential nutrients our supplements offer are also absorbed.

Because really, what’s the point of eating healthy foods or taking high-quality supplements if your body can’t absorb all they have to offer?

Signs of Enzyme Deficiency

You might think your digestive woes are just something you have to live with, but it is possible that you’re just low on vital digestive enzymes.

Those who eat a high-fiber diet and vegetarians and vegans especially can benefit from digestive enzyme assistance, since the staples of both diets are harder to break down.

Some symptoms include constipation, weight problems, allergies, indigestion and heart burn, gas and bloating, low energy, injuries that are slow to heal, advanced signs of aging and headaches.

The digestive system, you see, is vital to all other parts of the body, and is especially closely linked to the immune system. The digestive tract actually contains about 70 percent of the immune system, making it very important that the whole thing functions as it should, and when it doesn’t work properly, your whole body shows it.

One of the best ways to ensure both digestive and immune system health is to maintain a healthy balance of intestinal micro flora – the good bacteria that go to work to protect us from illness. When we take antibiotics, we often wipe these out, and poor diets don’t do much to replenish them, putting us at greater risk of illness.

Probiotics to the rescue?

Probiotics are bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of microflora in the intestines. The normal human body contains about 400 types of probiotics – including the famous lactobacillus acidophilus (live yogurt cultures) – that not only help reduce the growth of harmful bacteria, but also work in tandem with digestive enzymes to promote a healthy digestive system.

While many companies promote probiotics, our bodies are able to make most of what we need, although these good bacteria differ between thin and overweight people, young and old and those who eat a healthy or poor diet. And as we’ve said, using antibiotics can wipe them out, leaving your digestive system and immune system as risk. (Ref. 3)

The good bacteria that most probiotic supplements offer are usually unable to survive the digestive process because of the way they’re packaged, making most of them a waste of time and money.

A better approach is to replenish your probiotic supply – especially after taking antibiotics – through prebiotics, which feed existing probiotics and stimulate the production of new ones.

Our Kiwi-Klenz has it all

While our Total Balance contains digestive enzymes, our Kiwi-Klenz – made exclusively from the whole fruit of the New Zealand kiwifruit - is aimed at total digestive system health, and it puts all of its focus on that area of the body.

In addition to digestive enzymes to break down food, it features prebiotics to feed existing probiotics and boost production of new ones so your immune system is revved up and ready to go, as well as phenolics to keep bad bacteria in check and fiber to keep you regular.

You’ll notice the difference not only in how your digestive system feels, but in your energy levels, the appearance of your skin and the ability to fight off infection and illness.

The digestive system controls more than we think, so taking good care of it is essential.

References:

  1. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/04/23/digestive-enzymes-help-or-hype
  2. http://www.generationrescue.org/latest-news/nutrition/21-benefits-of-enzymes-and-why-you-need-them/
  3. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/probiotics-topic-overview

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