Enzymes are substances which are involved in breaking down food during digestion. They are vital to the body: they allow it to extract and sort the nutrients from the ingested food. During this process, the enzymes remain active before being destroyed, or rather inactivated in turn. Enzymes are destroyed at the slightest cooking: cooked food therefore loses the majority of its initial enzymes and nutrients. Aging and stress decrease the levels of enzymes produced naturally by the body. It is possible to mitigate its impact by taking dietary supplements containing enzymes and by increasing the amount of raw food in your diet.
How digestion works
Digestion is a complicated mechanism which has chemical, physical and mechanical stages, and the enzymes play a very important role in it. Digestion starts in the mouth. Saliva and chewing begin the food breakdown process. Saliva contains amylases or enzymes which extract the carbohydrates from food. The food then enters the oesophagus and then reaches the stomach. The stomach secretes acids and enzymes such as pepsin, lipase and rennet, which help to break down the food through stomach movements. When the stomach is too full, it sometimes happens that the valve located at the end of the oesophagus weakens, which causes reflux and the famous heartburn. These are caused by acids from the stomach arriving into the oesophagus by error and which cause a burning sensation. After passing through the stomach, the alimentary bolus moves down into the small intestine, where it is broken down by the bile from the liver and gall bladder and by other enzymes from the pancreas including, inter alia, trypsin, chymotrypsin, nucleases and amylases. When its progression through the six meters of the intestine finishes, the food is completely digested, and what is left is eliminated.
An additional intake of digestive enzymes to aid digestion is recommended for people who have one or more of the problems listed hereafter : Heartburn, acid reflux, Constipation, lactose intolerance, Food allergies and intolerances, Stress, Fatigue, Digestive problems associated with aging, Immune problems, Irritable bowel syndrome, Chronic diseases, Being overweight.
Supplements for improved digestion
In order to improve the quality of the digestion, it is possible to enhance the supply of the substances that help you to digest:
- Digestive enzymes are found quite easily in the diet (pineapple, fermented papaya, raw food) or in the form of food supplements.
- Probiotics. These living organisms are found in fermented foods such as yoghurt, beer yeast, leaven and lacto-fermented foods. You can opt for dietary supplements, especially in situations of crisis (diarrhea, constipation, flatulence) to encourage a return to normality.
- Prebiotics. These are fibres which improve the intestinal transit by giving volume to the stools to make it easier to evacuate them.