Several folks have spoken with me lately regarding digestion problems. We all have suffered at one time or another from the pains of improper digestion – heartburn, nausea, constipation, diarrhea. However, many of the medications that we are given to correct a problem in another area of our body can cause an unpleasant reaction in the digestive system.
The most common problem that I am asked about is constipation. I feel that much of the cause of this digestive upset stems from improper diet. Secondary causes include the dehydrating effects of certain medications, such as pain medications, antidepressants, and others. The dilemma of constipation is that it sets up the body for illness as a result of the retained stool in the bowel. The body continues to try to absorb nutrients from the waste products. The process actually reintroduces toxins to the body. Much of this disturbance in digestion can be helped by taking supplements that contain high levels of digestive enzymes.
These enzymes are vital to the proper breakdown and absorption of foods. They are classified in three categories – amylases, lipases and proteolytic enzymes. Amylases assist in carbohydrate digestion, a process that begins with the saliva in your mouth. Lipases help the body dissolve and absorb fats. Proteolytic enzymes are those which aid the body in assimilation of proteins. As you can see, each group of enzymes plays a substantial role in achieving overall nutrition. A shortage of any one enzyme can lead to problems.
Many times, our fast-paced lifestyle helps generate the digestive dilemma. Eating too quickly, not chewing your food enough times (Mom was right about that), or a diet lacking in fresh foods can cause inadequate levels of enzymes to be ingested or produced by our body. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can go a long way toward correcting trouble with digestion. For example, pineapple and papaya contain bromelain and papain respectively, two key enzymes for protein absorption. Most foods contain the enzymes necessary to digest them. However, refining, processing and cooking foods at high temperatures destroys these vital substances. Therefore, it may be very helpful to use a supplement to aid in the digestive process.
A complete digestive aid needs to contain ingredients which will digest all types of food. To ensure that a supplement is complete, it should contain the following:
Betaine Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) – a pH balancing enzyme derived from beets used to digest meats and animal proteins.
Pepsin – the natural enzyme that breaks down proteins and whose function depends on the contents of HCL.
Bromelain and Papain – powerful enzymes found in pineapple and papaya that act to break down the proteins into amino acids.
Pancreatin – a collection of enzymes secreted by the pancreas into the part of the small intestine closest to the stomach. Pancreatic enzymes break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Lipase – aids in fat digestion, while complex carbohydrates are digested by a combination action of mylase and mycozyme.
Amylase and Protease – two potent digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas, that digest carbohydrates and protein.
Ox Bile – improves fat digestion and combats constipation through the stimulation of the bile flow and improves functioning of the gallbladder.
If you would like more information on any topic discussed in this article, you can contact me through my website address at www.JerryRyanPhD.com or email me at DoctorRyan@JerryRyanPhD.com with your questions.
Jerry Ryan, Ph.D.