Do You Need Digestive Enzymes?

Enzymes. I bet many of you have heard about them and are probably wondering whether or not you should be taking them. So why are enzymes so important? Digestive enzymes, primarily produced by the pancreas and small intestine, break down the food we eat so the nutrients can be properly absorbed. If our body isn’t producing enough digestive enzymes, we can’t break down our food and are not getting the benefit of all that good nutrition.

Unfortunately, in today’s modern world of processed food and high-stress lifestyles, there are plenty of reasons for digestive enzyme output to be reduced in the body. Chronic stress, low-grade inflammation caused by food sensitivities, leaky gut, infection, aging and low stomach acid are just a few causes of enzyme insufficiency. Supplementing with enzymes can help take some of the burden off the digestive system and improve nutrient absorption.

When selecting a digestive enzyme, you want to make sure to choose a broad-spectrum formula, one that is designed to break down a variety of foods including fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. It is also becoming increasingly important that Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV (DPP-IV), be among the enzymes listed. DPP-IV activity helps break down the allergenic proteins, gluten and casein. Both of these proteins contain the amino acid proline, which can be difficult to digest. The increasing amount of adverse reactions associated with both gluten and casein in dairy indicates a need to support our struggling digestive tracts.

Gluten-triggered reactions are becoming increasingly problematic, and you don’t necessarily have to be diagnosed with Celiac disease to be affected. Negative reactions can manifest as an immediate allergic reaction, an immune mediated sensitivity which takes longer to become apparent or autoimmune in nature, as is seen in those with Celiac disease. No matter the condition, if there is a sensitivity, avoidance of gluten, and possibly dairy containing casein, is necessary.

However, with gluten hiding in condiments, seasonings and listed in other forms in processed foods, avoiding it completely becomes difficult. And what about going out for dinner? Can you ever be totally sure that what you’re eating is 100 percent gluten or dairy free? A broad-spectrum enzyme supplement that contains DPP-IV is extremely helpful in instances where gluten may accidentally enter the diet. For those that are not necessarily sensitive to gluten or dairy, DPP-IV is still beneficial as these proline- containing proteins are among the most difficult for the body to digest.

How do you know if you should be taking digestive enzymes? Common indicators include gas and bloating after meals, heartburn, feeling as if you have food sitting in your stomach, noticing undigested food in your stool and feeling full after eating only a few bites of food. Taking 1-2 capsules with meals should help to ease any of the above symptoms.

Of course when selecting a digestive enzyme supplement, quality is important. Look for a broad spectrum digestive enzyme supplement which will help the body to digest a variety of foods and one that includes DPP-IV to assist with the hard to digest gluten and dairy proteins. So if you feel like your digestion is struggling, enzymes might just be the boost it needs!

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