Living in a fast-paced multi-tasking environment like New York, I regularly hear more and more people complain about their digestive health. No wonder since about 70,000,000 people report experiencing digestive issues daily. Some of the most common discomforts are related to constipation, heartburn, indigestion, diarrhea, and stomachaches.
According to national data, around 7% of Americans have ulcers, another 7% have heartburn (GERD or acid reflux), up to 15% have constipation, and another 15% have Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS: a condition characterized by diverse issues like abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, nausea, and more). What’s even scarier is that there are around 26,000 new cases of stomach cancer and 135,000 new cases colorectal cancer yearly. Today’s tip to stay healthy focuses on digestive health.
Causes of Digestive Problems
There are many factors associated with digestive problems but the following are among the most common:
- Poor Nutrition: Despite the overabundance of food, most people fall short of eating highly nutritious food.
- Processed Food: Many people rely on processed foods and lack the consumption of live raw food.
- Lack of Mindful Eating: Eating too fast and doing so while performing other tasks can impede proper digestion.
- Devouring Food: Many people do not chew their food properly so it’s harder to be digested.
- Toxins: Depleted soils and irrigating produce with toxins increase the toxic load in the body, which compromises digestion.
What are Digestive Enzymes?
Enzymes are catalysts that provoke biological reactions, with most of them being proteins. Enzymes are essential for bodily functioning and are required in most metabolic processes (breathing, producing energy, absorbing nutrients, regulating hormones, healing, decreasing inflammation, delaying aging, etc.).
There are basically two main categories of enzymes, metabolic and digestive. Metabolic enzymes participate in all cellular activity. Digestive enzymes help the body break down food and assimilate its nutrients in order to allow it to function adequately. Besides making nutrients bioavailable, enzymes help to eliminate accumulated toxins from the digestive tract.
An unfortunate fact to keep in mind is that the body does not endlessly produce digestive enzymes. It is estimated that your body loses approximately 13% of the enzymes’ potential every ten years. This means that your body’s ability to digest food and extract nutrients decreases with the course of the years. In turn, you are more prone to age faster and experience health issues.
Enzymes’ potential lasts longer when the body receives additional enzymes. This is another reason why it is extremely important to consume enzyme-rich foods and to take digestive enzymes before eating cooked foods. Eating enzyme-rich foods (raw fruits and vegetables – especially pineapple, papaya, honey, mango, bananas, avocados, kiwi, ginger, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut – sprouted seeds, nuts, and legumes) is the best way to keep your biological enzymes active longer.
On the other hand, avoid only eating cooked food and the regular consumption of processed foods. When you over-consume cooked enzyme-depleted foods and processed foods, you drain your body’s enzymes. Consequently, you overwork your pancreas, causing inflammation. This can negatively affect digestion, then disrupt other systems in the body and create unwanted conditions. Not only that, but this whole dysfunctional chain accelerates the aging process and shortens your lifespan.
Can Enzymes Help?
In a study of people suffering from digestive problems, researchers compared the results of taking digestive enzymes and pharmaceuticals. The volunteers were examined and deemed eligible for treatment, a group received Motilium® (a drug prescribed to relieve bloating, gastric discomfort, nausea, among other symptoms) and the other group received an enzyme complex (Similase Total®). The groups were treated for five consecutive days. The results showed that gastrointestinal complaints significantly decreased in both groups. However, those receiving the enzymes had significantly better results in reducing abdominal pain.
There are numerous studies showing positive results associated with digestive health. The above one is just one example showing that enzymes are a valuable resource when dealing with digestive problems. The great thing about them is that you do not get the side-effects associated with most prescription drugs.
It has been shown that enzymes can help heal a sick body. Similarly, they have many beneficial effects on healthy people. Enzymes can help you look younger, feel less lethargic after eating, stay energized, and overall they serve a preventative role against disease.
Digestive enzymes can help you deal with digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, and cramping. Most importantly, they assist in nutrient absorption and have anti-aging properties.
I, personally, take digestive enzymes prior to big meals and always choose an organic brand. Currently, I’m taking Ora Organic Digestive Enzyme Supplement. It is organic, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and grain-free. Plus, it has no artificial ingredients and it tastes pretty good!
Today’s tip to stay healthy is to give your body foods and supplements that help the digestive system run smoothly. In this manner, you help conserve your body’s precious reserves of digestive and metabolic enzymes, taking advantage of nutrients and helping your body thrive.
To a Fitter Healthier You,
The Fitness Wellness Mentor