Last week, I talked about how hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach helps break down your food. This week, I’m going to talk about digestive enzymes – the Food Demolition Crew.
Digestive enzymes break your food down into carbohydrates, proteins and fats so that you can then absorb them. Digestive enzymes start their job in your mouth and continue all the way through your small intestine.
Some people don’t produce enough digestive enzymes which means they don’t get the benefit of the food their eating. They body isn’t breaking down the food into the carbohydrate, protein, and fat molecules it can absorb. So, those things from the food don’t get absorbed and end up in the toilet.
Why might you not produce enough digestive enzymes? Here are some reasons:
- Aging – As we get less young (remember I don’t like “old” or “older) our bodies may produce less digestive enzymes.
- Problems with the pancreas or liver may reduce the amount of digestive enzymes that are produced.
- Issues in the small intestine like Celiac disease can also reduce the amount of digestive enzyme production.
- Inflammation in the digestive tract – often caused from food intolerances.
- Bacteria living in the digestive tract where they aren’t supposed to be.
- Stress may also play a role in digestive enzyme production.
How do you know if you aren’t producing enough digestive enzymes? The symptoms are similar to hypochlorhydira – not producing enough HCl in your stomach. Symptoms include:
- Gas and bloating after meals
- Stools that float
- Feeling like you’ve got sand in your stomach
- Feeling full after only a few bites of food
What do you do if you think you aren’t producing enough digestive enzymes? The best way is through stool testing. However, if that isn’t possible, you can add in some high quality digestive enzymes and see if you notice a difference in how you feel. I have some specific recommendations. If you’d like to find out more, just send me a quick note.
Logging your food can also help you figure out if low digestive enzymes could be the problem and, if so, which foods may be the culprit. Then, you can target the right digestive enzyme rather than taking a broad one.
If you want to track your food and symptoms, I’ve created a Symptom Log for Digestive Wellness based on my years with IBS and working with clients with digestive issues. I also created a series of videos to go along with the log to help you learn how to use it, figure out what may be triggering your symptoms, and other resources to get a happy and healthy gut. If you want the Symptom Log and other goodies, you can sign up to get it here.