If your digestive system causes you to suffer: diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas…, you have most likely already tried supplements of all kinds, and with varying results, to help relieve your symptoms. As you have walked through the natural supplements aisles of your local pharmacy or health food store you may have already noticed digestive enzymes and wondered if they could be a possible solution for you.
Digestive enzymes are the molecules that are responsible for breaking down the food in our body into smaller particles so that the nutrients they contain can be more easily absorbed.
Digestion begins in the mouth with the production of a significant amount of amylase which breaks down starch into maltose, and to a lesser extent lingual lipase, which will begin the digestion of fatty substances. Next, the enzymes present in the stomach (pepsin and lipase) deal with breaking down the proteins into peptides and the dietary fats into smaller particles, both in order to facilitate digestion.
When it comes to enzymes, the pancreas plays an essential role in producing a large amount of amylase, lipases, and proteases, allowing the optimal absorption of nutrients within the small intestine.
Finally, the wall of the small intestine also secretes digestive enzymes, the best known of which is lactase, which has the role of breaking down lactose into glucose and galactose.
If your body does not produce enough digestive enzymes, then you may have difficulty digesting certain foods and they will therefore not be broken down into smaller molecules which are absorbable by the intestine.
Malabsorption, caused by the lack or absence of digestive enzymes, can cause gastrointestinal disorders such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea…
In the longer term, it could also lead to undernutrition and weight loss.
Several situations can diminish the production of digestive enzymes. Among them are: