The purpose of this article is to give you some practical guidelines regarding whether or not you should take digestive enzymes and probiotics in order to maintain and optimize your digestive health. |
In order to be able to make a decision whether or not digestive enzymes and/or probiotics are suitable for you, I like to introduce you to some basic health concepts about digestion and what I refer to as “The Garden “Within”.
Digestive Enzymes are protein molecules that are produced in our bodies and are catalysts for all kind of chemical reactions. In other words, they allow these necessary chemical reactions to occur more easily and more quickly. The main task of enzymes is to break down our food. Many of our whole, raw foods contain digestive enzymes and are sometimes referred to as “live food”, but because most of our food is now processed, many of the enzymes found in whole foods are destroyed.
Most of our enzymes are made by the body in the pancreas, liver, stomach, and salivary glands. They are designed to promote the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats into usable fuel.
Normal Digestive Process
Digestion begins in the mouth as soon as you begin to smell food or even think about food. This stimulate the release of saliva within your mouth in the anticipation of eating. Saliva primarily contains amylase (ptyalin), which hydrolyzes our carbohydrates into simple sugars. The act of chewing actually breaks up your food into particles and the saliva works to moisten your food and begin to breakdown the sugars so that your food is more easily digested.
Therefore, when your mother told you to chew your food well, she was correct in assuming that this is good for your digestive health. Since you can only taste food when it is in your mouth, I would encourage you to enjoy the experience and at the same time begin to digest your food more effectively. What good does it do when you quickly chew and swallow your food so that it will be dumped into your stomach prematurely? You can’t enjoy the pleasure of eating as long as the entire process of digestion is hindered.
Your food enters a very acidic environment in your stomach, due to the hydrochloric acid your stomach produces. The Ph of the stomach is normally around 2.5. This acidic environment is critic in beginning the breakdown of your food, destroying micro-organisms, and converting pepsinogen, the stomach also makes to pepsin. Pepsin is the key active enzyme in the stomach and its role is to breakdown proteins into peptides or smaller protein fragments. The stomach is continually chewing up your food, which also allows your food to literally starts to dissolve.
Many things can increase your stomach acid or irritate the lining of your stomach. For example: aspirin, NSAIDS, alcohol, stress, and spicy foods. You may a have a tendency to just take additional antacids or acid suppressing drugs to give ourselves symptomatic relief. However, I would suggest to avoid those medications, foods and stress as best as we can to eliminate the cause of your problem. Neutralizing or decreasing the amount of acid you make will significantly decrease your ability to digest food. This in itself can lead to indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, and even reflux. If you are not effectively digesting your food, it becomes stuck in your stomach and can slow down the entire digestive process.
After your food passes out of your stomach, it enters into the first portion of the small bowel called the duodenum. When people develop ulcers, It is here where they primarily occur . In your duodenum begins most of the digestion and absorption of your food. Here the digestive enzymes from the liver and the pancreas pour into the small bowel and begin the final phases of digestion.
The pancreas is the primary digestive organ in the body. It secretes several different enzymes that are needed to digest your food. Pancreatic juice contains sodium bicarbonate, which neutralizes the the acidic material from the stomach. Pancreatic juice also contains amylase, trypsin, chymotrypsin, and lipase. Pancreatic amylase then further breaks down the carbohydrates into simple sugar, completing the digestive process of the carbohydrates that began in your mouth. Trypsin and chymoprysin digest proteins that are now mainly peptides because of the action of pepsin in the stomach. This allows the proteins to be better absorbed and in a form (amino acids) that the body can use and utilize. Pancreatic lipase breaks down fat into fatty acids and glycerol.
Your liver is also an important organ for digestion. The liver produces bile, which is stored in the gallbladder and transported to the duodenum via your bile ducts. Fat within any meal or snack stimulates the contraction of the gallbladder to secrete and increased amount of bile into the duodenum during the digesting process. Bile emulsifies fats (separates it into small droplets) so they can mix with water and be acted upon by enzymes.
The liver is also your primary detoxifying organ. The liver detoxifies the blood from the intestines via the hepatic portal vein. For example, the ammonia produced by the digestion of proteins in the small bowel is converted to a less toxic compound (urea) by the liver. It is also a storage area for or those quick glucose stores when your body needs some additional glucose quickly.
Your food now begins to traverse the long small intestine, where the digestive enzymes are able to continue breaking down or digesting, as well as absorbing, your food. Almost all absorption of your food occurs in the small intestine.
The colon or large bowel is primary responsible for reabsorbing water from your food and creating a more solid waste or stool. However, the large intestine is also the area where most of the bacteria, fungi, and other micro-organisms live and what is also called:”The Garden Within.” You can read about “The Garden Within” in my next article.
Adrian Joele became interested in nutrition and weight management while he was an associate with a nutritional supplement company. Since 2008 he wrote several articles about nutrition and weight loss and achieved expert status with Ezine Articles.com. He has been involved in nutrition and weight management for more than 12 years and he likes to share his knowledge with anyone who could benefit from it. Get his free report on nutrition and tips for healthy living, by visiting: http://www.nutrobalance2.net
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