A healthy digestive system requires a variety of naturally produced enzymes that work together to break down food. In healthy idividuals, these enzymes are released primarily by the stomach and pancreas. The pancreas releases several digestive enzymes that break down different food groups. The enzymes break down the food allowing it to synthesize into the bloodstream before passing into the lower digestive tract. Those suffering with digestive conditions such as leaky gut, IBS, Chron’s, Celiac disease may not produce enough enzymes on their own, and need to supplement their diet in order to ensure a healthy digestive system. Fortunately, many of the enzymes can be found in a variety of different foods and natural supplements.
Pepsin is a type of enzyme that is found naturally in ox bile. According to the Colorado State University, it has the ability to break down protein. Pepsin is sold in most health food stores in combination with other digestive enzymes. It has a powerful enzymatic action on foods such as meat and poultry, and this could cause problems for individuals with certain sensitivities. Otherwise, it’s an excellent supplement for helping to break down heavy proteins.
According to the University of Michigan, bromelain aids in the digestion of meats and other forms of protein. It is a plant enzyme that is found naturally in pineapples. Consuming fresh pineapple with a meal or immediately afterwards may help to reduce acid reflux. Drinking fresh pineapple juice will provide you with more enzymes than consuming the flesh. It should be consumed with or after a meal to be most effective. For those unable to eat fresh pineapple or its juice, bromelain supplements are available from health food stores, and should also be taken during meals.
Lactose intolerance is a condition where a person is unable to digest milk and other dairy products due to the presence of a milk sugar known as lactose. Lactase is a digestive enzyme that is used to break down milk sugar. According to the Colorado State University, lactase can be taken as a supplement in order to aid digestion. Lactase supplements can be found at most health food stores. They are available in combination with other digestive enzymes from a variety of manufacturers.
Felicia Drury Kliment writes in “The Acid Alkaline Balance” that raw honey contains a variety of different nutrients that have not been lost during processing such as royal jelly and propolis. She also states that raw honey with pollen is one of the best digestive enzymes for breaking down foods such as carbohydrates and starches. Processed honey does not have the same effect and has far fewer nutrients.
According to the Colorado State University, raw cow and goat’s milk contains a digestive enzyme known as lipase that breaks down fat. In order to get the full benefit of all its natural enzymes, milk must be unpasteurized and not undergo any type of heat treatment. Drinking the milk before midday allows the body to make the best use of the enzymes. Raw milk can be purchased from specialist dairy farms, but always be vigilant regarding the seller’s cleanliness. Additionally, consuming raw butter or organic butter with cultures and enzymes will also break down fats.
Please make sure whatever foods and supplements you choose for their enzymes are organic. Additionally, all fermented foods contain live cultures and naturally formed digestive enzymes to promote healing in the gut.
“The Acid Alkaline Balance”; Felicia Drury Kliment; 2002
Colorado State University: Exocrine Secretions of the Pancreas
University of Michigan Health System: Digestive Enzymes
University of Michigan Health System: Bromelain
Colorado State University: Lactose Intolerance – Lactase Non-Persistence
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