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Digestive Enzymes: Why Enzymes Are Important to Health

It’s been said that we are what we eat. But, more accurately, we are what we absorb. The difference is digestion. And, a major factor in digestion are digestive enzymes.

Digestive enzymes are protein catalysts that speed up the break down (digestion) of raw material (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals) into smaller components (like amino acids, fatty acids, fiber and glucose) that can be absorbed (or not absorbed in the case of fiber) by your intestines.

While enzymes are not changed or destroyed after digestion, the enzymes speed the process of digestion. Enzymes also help build tissue from the absorbed particles. For enzymes to work effectively, they require enough vitamins and minerals.

Many enzymes are produced by the body for digestion. Enzymes also play a part in the running of your body and in the manufacturing of new tissue. There are also enzymes in raw foods that help start the digestion process. Scientists have identified over 75,000 different enzymes in humans and are still finding more.

Where Are Nutrients Digested?

eating photo

Photo by Sole Treadmill


The process of breaking down cell membranes begins in the mouth where food is chewed. This is why it is important to chew your food until it becomes mushy. This releases the nutrients within the cells and allows chemical digestion to begin.

Enzymes work in the mouth, stomach and small intestines to break apart proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Stomach acid breaks down cell membranes, and further digestion occurs in the small intestine.

The gallbladder introduces bile in the duodenum (first part of the small intestine) which breaks down or emulsifies fats that may be coating other food particles. Bile also helps neutralize stomach acid. This allows enzymes from the pancreas to continue digestion. Your pancreas releases enzymes throughout the digestive tract to digest the foods you eat.

  • Enzymes start working in your mouth where the breakdown of carbohydrates begins. Carbohydrates continue to be digested in the stomach and small intestine.
  • Proteins are primarily digested in your stomach.
  • Fats begin the digestion process in the small intestine.

Got Poor Digestion?

Bloating is probably the most common symptom of poor digestion. Undigested food in the digestive tract will ferment creating gas and bloating.

And, poor digestion can cause more serious conditions. Starches ferment in the small intestine to produce alcohol which can product non-alcholic fatty liver disease.

Many people have one or more of the following symptoms, but often do not identify the cause a poor digestion.

Nausea photo

Photo by Sarah G…

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Flatulence, gas, bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Acid reflux

Among the common causes or risk factors of poor digestion include:

  • Drugs

  • Antibiotics
  • Poisons
  • Improper pH along the digestive tract
  • Non-ideal temperature
  • Hormones
  • Aging

If you have the symptoms of poor digestion or have any of the common risk factors for poor digestion, you may want to consider taking digestive enzymes before meals to help ensure more complete digestion.

Great Overview of Digestive Enzymes

This video outlines the role enzymes play in digestion, and how taking an enzyme supplement may improve your overall digestive health.

Produced by Pendulum Swing Media
More videos at: pendulumswingmedia.com
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