Elson M. Haas, M.D., one of the nations leading experts in the field of natural health and the author of Staying Healthy with Nutrition, tells us that digestive tract health is one of the core components of overall wellbeing.
The body is a cauldron of chemical reactions, and each such reaction requires the services of an enzyme. In the natural products world, enzymes have become known as little facilitators of digestion, breaking down nutrients into their usable parts. Very specific in nature, each enzyme acts on a specific type of chemical, called a substrate, in what is commonly referred to as a lock-and-key relationship-the enzyme’s shape fits only its intended substrate. This is why people with insufficient production of the enzyme lactase struggle to breakdown lactose after ingesting dairy products.
By nature, many of the foods we eat contain the enzymes necessary to digest that food. However, many variables, such as heating, can deplete these food-borne enzymes. It is best to consume natural foods that are either raw or minimally heated to preserve food-borne enzymes. Also, while the body makes its own menu of enzymes, this production can be negatively affected by aging and other health factors. Supplementation has become one favored method of ensuring the proper enzyme mix in the body. Adding a quality digestive enzyme supplement has many benefits, however, there is no substitute for natural enzymes contained in raw healthy food.
Digestive enzymes have been found to be useful for:
• Those under stress
• Those who use antacids, as antacids can decrease enzyme effectiveness and secretion
• Those who eat fried, grilled, or baked foods as these methods of preparation destroy naturally occurring enzyme activity
• Those with teeth or jaw problems, as improper chewing of food decreases enzyme secretion
• People with deficient digestive enzymes due to illness or aging.