The word “enzyme” may sound overwhelming, but its popularity grows by the minute.
What are enzymes?
For starters, enzymes are a type of active protein that is fundamental for numerous functions in our bodies every day! From speeding up reactions to breaking down the foods we eat, every single cell in our body depends on enzymes. We can think of them as pieces of a puzzle that fit exclusively in one spot, and the puzzle is never complete if there’s a single missing piece.
Types of enzymes
Metabolic enzymes: like the name suggests, these enzymes are responsible for speeding up reactions for the cell to produce energy and detox. Meaning that every single cell in our bodies greatly depends on enzymes!
Digestive enzymes: These are probably the most common ones and can be found along the gastrointestinal tract since this is where digestion happens in the body. What are these little guys responsible for? They are fundamental in the breaking down of foods into nutrients and waste. If our foods are not properly digested, then we cannot absorb the nutrients. And this is when we can experience gastrointestinal discomfort along with nutrient deficiencies.
Food enzymes: Enzymes are not only something exclusive to the human body, it just so happens that raw foods we eat also naturally contain enzymes! Keep in mind that cooking or processing can many times kill most of the natural enzymes found in foods, which is why for the most part it’s best to eat your fruits and veggies raw to get the most benefits.
Digestive enzyme supplements
When there’s an enzyme deficiency or malfunction, the awareness usually only emerges when we start experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms after eating. This happens because the foods are not being broken down properly. Like in the case of lactose intolerance, when drinking milk the body can’t properly break down lactose (the sugar naturally found in milk) and may cause strong discomfort.
When deciding to supplement with digestive enzymes, one can choose from 3 different sources: plant-based, plant, or animal enzymes. If feeling discomfort is associated with digestion, it’s fundamental to discuss with your health care practitioner your symptoms as well as the type of foods that usually cause the symptoms (since different enzymes act on different food groups) in order to choose the right product and get the most out of an enzyme supplement.