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Digestion

 

 DIGESTIVE ENZYMES

To put it simply, enzymes are life. Our bodies use enzymes in a multitude of daily functions, both those we produce ourselves and those we must ingest. We need enzymes to maintain the integrity of cells, blood, muscles, bones and tissue. Your immune system and organs depend on a healthy daily supply of enzymes; in fact every part of your body absolutely requires enzymes.

Your ability to get nutrients out of your food and turn that food into energy is directly affected by the amount (or lack of) enzymes in your system.

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 So where do we get these, oh-so-valuable enzymes?  Many we produce through the pancreas and other glands. But as we age, our body’s ability to manufacture these enzymes declines (as it seems so many things do). The other major source is through raw foods. Cooking, pasteurizing, even preserving, all destroy any active enzymes that may be found in the food. Raw foods inherently have all the live enzymes in them needed to be digested, a very natural cycle of life. Fresh fruits and vegetables, even sushi, will provide you with an abundance of nutritional enzymes. But, our reality is that we do cook our foods, much of which can come from another continent, reducing its freshness. We rush through our meals, ignoring our mother’s plea to chew our food.

People often believe that digestion occurs when food is introduced into the stomach and consumed by stomach acid. But, what happens first is that food is broken up and “pre-digested” in the mouth and the fundus of the stomach (the top part), breaking down food into minute quantities. Seventy-five percent of your digestion should be completed before acid is introduced into the process and this slurry is moved down into the intestines for complete nutrient assimilation. If there is an inadequate amount of enzymes in the food or in the stomach and small intestine, then food is not broken down enough.

LACTOBACILLUS & BIFIDOBACTERIA SPECIES

Lactobacillus & Bifidobacteria species are referred to as beneficial bacteria or “probiotics.” They produce important nutrients & enzymes that contribute to an optimal intestinal environment. In addition, Lactobacillus & Bifidobacteria species have individual functions that collectively produce beneficial effects in the body. Bifidobacteria represents approximately one-fourth of the beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract.

Enzymes of digestion 

Ptyalin which is contained saliva, begins the process of breaking down starch into smaller molecules.

Pepsin, secreted by glands in the stomach, breaks proteins into smaller peptides to ready them for digestion by the proteolytic enzymes of the pancreas.

Many digestive enzymes are produced by the pancreas.  These enzymes do the major work of digesting proteins, fats and carbohydrates contained in our foods.

Pancreatic proteases such as trypsin and chymotrypsin, digest proteins into amino acids for their assimilation by the body.

Bile secreted by the liver and stored in the gall bladder is not an enzyme but it emulsifies fat so that it is easier for lipase from the pancreas to digest fat.

Lipase changes triglycerides in dietary fats to monoglycerides and fatty acids.

Amylase from the pancreas continues the digestion of starches begun by the salivary ptaylin.  Amylase digests other carbohydrates, such as glycogen from animal skeletal muscle. 

Cellulose, contained in plant foods, is a carbohydrate that humans cannot digest because we do not produce cellulase, the enzyme needed to digest it.

Mammals such as cows and sheep contain symbiotic (friendly) bacteria in their digestive tracts which produce the enzyme cellulase for breaking down cellulose.

The small intestine also secretes enzymes for the further digestion of carbohydrates into sugars for use in the body.

-Take in liquids sparingly with consumption of any food. Too much liquid dilutes the enzyme pool, again reducing the effectiveness of the enzymes. Drink a lot of water, just do it away from your meal.

-Eat plenty of raw foods, including fruits and vegetables, garlic and onions.

-Fermented dairy such as yogurt; also miso, natto, sauerkraut and other naturally fermented foods

-Take foods and herbs that contain antibiotic properties separate from probiotic-containing supplements or foods

-Include fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains

-Avoid saturated fats

-Avoid fried and refined foods

-Increase consumption of flax seed, whey, bran, yogurt, greens

-Eat smaller meals


-Do get moderate exercise regularly

-Avoid stress & sustained tension

-Get adequate sunlight

- Aid digestion with a probiotic. This will help maintain intestinal flora and increase absorption of nutrients and removal of waste. Choose a formula with multiple active strains, not just acidophilus.
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