Your body may not be producing enough digestive enzymes. Specialized cells in the salivary glands and pancreas produce digestive enzymes. The stomach also secretes hydrochloric acid (HCl) that activates enzyme production. Over 20 identified enzymes in the body, plus enzymes in uncooked live foods like fruits and vegetables, facilitate the breakdown of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates so the body can absorb important nutrients and produce energy for vital functions. How well we digest any particular food is dependent on the quantities and types of enzymes the body produces. Within the body, HCl and enzyme secretion generally decline with age. And genetics can negatively influence digestive enzyme production as well.
Certain foods can add discomfort. Some people may not produce enough enzymes to comfortably digest lactose in dairy foods, gluten in grain products, or certain acidic foods (citrus, tomatoes). Raw nuts and seeds also contain enzyme inhibitors that may make them harder for some people to digest. And humans don’t produce the enzyme cellulase that helps break down cellulose fibers in plant foods, which slows digestion and may cause discomfort with higher fiber consumption. Plus, when enzyme-rich foods are cooked at 118° F or above, naturally occurring enzymes are destroyed.
Do you notice
· Trouble digesting meals or post-meal discomfort that negatively impact living quality (especially as you age)
· Known or suspected sensitivity to lactose or gluten
· Occasional indigestion or a feeling of fullness that lasts 2-4 hours after eating
· Occasional bloating or abdominal cramping
· Undigested food in the stool
Stop in today if any of the above feels familiar so we can discuss nutritional strategies for digestive health, including supplementing with digestive enzymes and simple dietary and lifestyle changes.