Natural Healing: Improve Digestion with Enzymes

| July/August 2003

Enzymes are essential to improve digestion and boost overall health. These tiny proteins initiate chemical reactions throughout the body to keep it running smoothly. Enzymes help the body break down and assimilate nutrients, as well as eliminate toxins. In all, more than 3,000 different enzymes assemble and disassemble human molecules.

Digestive enzymes turn food into components small enough to pass through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream for delivery to individual cells. Metabolic enzymes, such as antioxidants (which provide cells with energy), clear away toxic debris and slow the ability of free radical compounds to promote disease and aging.

Good Digestion is Vital

Let’s focus on enzymes that promote digestion, which is the key to good health. Each of the many enzymes released into the digestive tract plays a specific role. For example, protease digests protein into small amino acids. Amylase helps break down carbohydrates into simple sugars such as glucose and fructose. Lipase turns fats into tiny fatty acids and maintains cell permeability to allow nutrients to flow easily into cells and waste to be eliminated.

Having too few enzymes can create digestive problems like nausea, belching, burping, gas, and diarrhea or constipation. Worse, a lack of protease can lead to food intolerances and allergies when the immune system mistakes large, unbroken protein compounds for an invader and attacks them. The consequence can reach far beyond simple digestive disorders and may include seemingly unrelated symptoms such as skin rashes, hives or headaches.

Without enough protease enzymes, the resulting protein deficiency can interfere with calcium metabolism, increasing the risk of developing osteoarthritis. The deficiency can also compromise your immune system, making you more vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections — possibly even cancer — and can encourage fluid retention and the formation of blood clots.

An adequate supply of protease helps prevent these conditions as well as infections such as gum abscesses, herpes, shingles, canker sores and inflammatory conditions (including skin rashes and allergic reactions to bug stings, poison oak and poison ivy). Lipase, amylase and trypsin are some enzymes found in commercial anti-inflammatory combinations to reduce arthritic pain.

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