Articles on Natural Digestive Health and Wellness

The pH and Enzyme Relationship

You may get flashbacks to high school science or maintaining your pool, whichever is fresher in your mind, when you see or hear about pH, but it’s important to understand that each of us has our own pH levels in our bodies. While an average healthy person generally has set ranges of pH (or levels of acidity) in different parts of the body, even the slightest difference can have major repercussions. A good example of this is enzymes. As crucial as enzymes are to keeping you up and running, they need to be in a suitable pH level to do their jobs.

pH and the Body

Bodily pH is not uniform, and if you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. Something like saliva is relatively neutral, in the 6.5-6.75 range. By comparison, gastric secretions like stomach acid are more acidic, and something like bile would be more alkaline. Where things go wrong in the body is generally when acidity levels are higher than they should be. What causes this? It varies.

When you have too much acid in your body fluids, it leads to a condition called acidosis, which can be extremely dangerous if left unchecked. This comes in two main forms: respiratory acidosis, where there is too much CO2 in the blood, and metabolic acidosis, which starts primarily in the kidneys. Diabetes, kidney issues, and dehydration can all factor into these conditions.1

There are certain foods that have a higher acid content as well. While eating these won’t lead to acidosis directly, lowering your intake is sometimes advisable. These foods include:

  • Grains
  • Sugar
  • Processed foods
  • Sweetened beverages
These foods are best eaten in moderation anyway, for a variety of health reasons.

The pH-Enzyme Link

You don’t need to be in a life-threatening situation for imbalanced pH to pose a problem, and enzymes are a perfect example. Each enzyme has an optimum pH level where it performs at its best. For example, pepsin is a protease enzyme that helps break down proteins in the stomach. Being in the stomach, it performs best at an acidic pH.2

But what happens when the pH doesn’t match the enzyme? Well, pH environment can literally change the shape of an enzyme to the point where it’s not recognizable to the body. If this takes place, then whatever action or reaction the enzyme was supposed to play a part in either doesn’t happen or it happens at a much slower or reduced rate.3 Going back to the example of digestion – if your digestive pH is off balance, it can hinder the proper digestion of food. We know from science that slower or irregular digestion is not only uncomfortable, it also impacts your nutrient intake.4

This can be a major concern if you are trying to use enzymes to support your digestive health or any other facet of health. Even if you use supplemental enzymes, if they are going into a body with a pH level that’s not suitable, chances are that you’re only going to see a fraction of the potential benefits, if any. The good news is that as this issue becomes more clear, companies are already navigating the issue, as is the case with Enzymedica’s Thera-Blend.

Thera-Blends

Thera-Blend is an exclusive process we use for the protease, lipase, amylase, and cellulase enzymes in our enzyme supplements. This process combines multiple enzyme strains in order to get greater overall activity over a broader range of pH levels. The result is that Thera-Blend enzymes are both more effective and faster-working than other digestive enzyme supplements. The reason for this is two-fold. First, several enzyme strains are able to break down more bonds in food passing through the digestive system than a single one. In addition, even as the body’s pH ranges ebb and flow, having multiple strains means a more consistent result.

The relationship between enzymes and the body’s pH level is a perfect example of how one effort to support your health is often contingent on something else to have the desired effect. This is why it’s so important to talk to a doctor or medical professional before taking dietary supplements. Their guidance will not only help you find the supplements you need, it can also provide you with dietary plans that will assure that they can effectively meet your needs.

1. Pizzorno J. Acidosis: An Old Idea Validated by New Research. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015;14(1):8-12.
2. Cornish-bowden AJ, Knowles JR. The pH-dependence of pepsin-catalysed reactions. Biochem J. 1969;113(2):353-62.
3. Shi HZ, Guo QS, Zhu ZB, Hu TT, Zhang SW. [Effects of temperature and pH on digestive enzymes activities in Whitmania pigra]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2012;37(17):2538-41.
4. Clissold FJ, Tedder BJ, Conigrave AD, Simpson SJ. The gastrointestinal tract as a nutrient-balancing organ. Proc Biol Sci. 2010;277(1688):1751-9.
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