Are you getting the most out of your meals? That’s a fairly difficult question to answer for many people, so don’t feel bad if you don’t know the answer. Most of us simply eat food when we’re hungry, only to get full and go on about our day until our body tells us that it’s time to eat again. But for millions of men and women around the world, it’s not quite that simple, as many suffer from bouts of indigestion, gas, bloating and constipation. Because they’re such common digestive issues, some people would rather reach for a cheap over-the-counter product to get rid of the discomfort, instead of looking into how to prevent those issues from occurring again and taking preemptive action.
Our bodies communicate with us all the time; and if you pay close attention to symptoms like the ones above, yours could be telling you that its digestive function is under-performing and in need of a helping hand. But don’t worry! Your friends at Zenwise Labs are here to help. So, let’s break down what makes digestive enzyme products like ours so helpful, and what better place to start than by answering the most common question of them all.
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
Great question! Enzymes are macromolecular proteins which accelerate, or catalyze, chemical reactions in our body. Almost all metabolic processes in biological systems require catalytic activity of enzymes to speed up the processes in order to sustain life.The digestive tract includes the esophagus (or food tube), stomach, small intestine (bowel), and colon (large intestine). Digestive enzymes are the ones found in our digestive tract. When we eat food, our digestive tract has to break it down into simpler nutrients which are absorbable. Gut motility is the term given to the synchronized stretching and contractions of the gastrointestinal muscles. These movements enable food to progress along the digestive tract (13). Therefore, good enzymes levels in our digestive tract are absolutely crucial for optimum digestion. The enzymatic activity begins in the mouth to initiate starch and fat digestion. In the stomach, hydrochloric acid secretions activate pepsin which breaks down protein, while gastric lipase commences the hydrolysis of fats.
So, Why Do We Need Digestive Enzyme Supplements?
How Digestive Enzymes Improve Gut Health
Digestive enzymes are essential for proper digestion of food. Without proper enzyme production, the body is unable to digest food, which often results in malnutrition and a variety of chronic disorders (2). In severe cases, this may also lead to developmental defects in younger population (3). There are some general issues related to digestive enzyme insufficiency:
- Pancreatic problems: Pancreas has the main job to digest carbohydrates and fats, and to regulate blood sugar. Different pancreatic problem may decline its activity resulting poor digestion. These may include cystic fibrosis, pancreatic cancer, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (15) and acute or chronic pancreatitis (4).
- Brush border dysfunction: Sometimes, damage to intestine itself causes digestion problems (6). The most severe is long standing Celiac disease, where the brush border is flattened or destroyed (5). Other diseases like Crohn’s can also cause severe problems.
- Enzyme-less diets: Food in its natural, unprocessed state packs many vital nutrients and enzymes. Some studies (8) show that processes of cooking food, particularly for long periods of time and at high temperatures, destroy these enzymes in food. As a result our digestive track works hard to add extra dose of enzymes for digesting these foods (3) (7). Gradually, our bodies can’t keep up with the high demand of enzymes production.
- Inflammation: Minor inflammation in the digestive tract such as that caused by food allergies, intestinal permeability, dysbiosis, parasitic infection, etc. can also lead to deficiencies in digestive enzymes (5). On the other hand, overuse of some OTC pain-killer medication (9) can also cause moderate to severe inflammation (10) of gastrointestinal tract.
- Aging: Adolescence is the time of life when our normal ability to produce enzymes is at its maximum. It is also a time of rapid growth and often a time with no serious illness. According to research (11), food enzymes become depleted as people age and they also start to experience a broad range of health complaints including poor digestion because of enzymes deficiency.
- Poor eating habits: Inadequate chewing and eating on the run may result in inadequate enzyme production (13) and, hence, malabsorption of food. This can be exacerbated by other factors like aging.
- Stress: This is one of the most common reasons for digestive enzyme problems (12). Our body has two modes. Sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest). During the times of stress, our body is on high alert and stays in sympathetic mode. This gives digestion a very low priority and digestive function and digestive enzyme production is immensely decreased. Long term stress causes constant sympathetic mode and impaired digestive enzyme output.
We’ve all heard of the old adage of "we are what we eat!" However, it’s not quite that straightforward. Enzymes make the digestion of food possible. This means we must make maximum use of enzyme activity, both internal enzymes and those consumed either in food or as supplements. Moreover, managing chronic stress is also very important to restore healthy digestive function.
Your Gut Health and Digestive Enzymes
Common Symptoms of Digestive Enzymes Insufficiency
- Gastric insufficiency
- Gas and bloating after meals
- Dyspepsia and Heartburn
- Loss of appetite
- Gastroparesis (feeling of fullness after only a few bites of food)
- Chronic Indigestion
- Stool with undigested food
- Frequent floating stools
- Frequent oily stool
Why Choose Advanced Digestive Enzymes?
Zenwise Labs’ Advanced Digestive Enzymes is a multi-ingredient supplement, designed to improve digestion and maximize the benefits of food. Let’s have a look at its constituents:
- Plant-sourced blend: The blend includes Amylase, Glucoamylase, Lipase, Protease, Invertase, Maltase, Cellulase, Bromelain, Lactase, and Papain. Plant-sourced digestive enzymes come from microorganisms such as aspergillus, grown on a plant medium. Plant-based enzymes are active across a wide pH range, which makes them useful for aiding digestion in the low pH of the stomach as well as the moderately high-pH environment of the intestine (16). Animal-based enzymes are only functional at higher pH levels. Therefore, they are less efficient for aiding digestion in the stomach compared to plant-based digestive enzymes.
- Green Papaya: It is the fruit of the plant Carica papaya. Papaya contains a chemical called papain which breaks down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats (17). That’s why it works as a meat tenderizer.
- Apple Pectin: Pectin is a dietary fiber found in fruits. It binds substances in the intestine and adds bulk to the stools. Dietary fibers have also been associated with a reduction in the risk of colon cancer and inflammation. Pectin holds the credit behind the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
- Ginger: It is the root or rhizome of well-known flowering herb Zingiber officinale. Researchers believe that ginger contains chemicals that work as digestive stimulants and might significantly reduce nausea and inflammation (18). These chemicals work primarily in the stomach and intestines.
- Turmeric: Curcuma longa or turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous plant of the ginger family. It is well known for its use as a spice in curry and has been used as a remedy for stomach (19) and liver ailments since 1900 B.C.
- Fennel: It is a perennial, pleasant-smelling herb. Dried fennel seed and their extracts have known pharmacological properties. Fennel extract might relax the intestine & colon and decrease respiratory tract secretions.
- Peppermint: is a plant and well-known for its effects on gastrointestinal tract. Peppermint oil also seems to reduce spasms in the digestive tract.
- Sea Vegetable complex: It contains seaweeds like Bladderwrack, Nori and Wakame. These seaweeds are an inconsistent source of iodine (20) and help improve thyroid functions. It also contains algin, which can act as a laxative to help the stool pass through the bowels.
- Prebiotic & Probiotic: A probiotic is a viable microbial dietary supplement that beneficially affects the host through its effects in the intestinal tract. Studies suggest (24) that combination of prebiotic and probiotic might improve the survival of the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, thereby enhancing their effects in the large bowel (23).
That Sounds Great, But How Does It Work?
The constituents of Advanced Digestive Enzymes have different but complementary mechanisms of actions to maximize the overall effect of the product. Enzymes in the product catalyze the hydrolysis of fats (26) to mono-glycerides, glycerol, and free fatty acids; proteins into peptides and amino acids (4); and starches into dextrins (25) and short-chain sugars in the duodenum and proximal small intestine (14). Additional constituents and herbs not only provide essential micronutrient but also improve the digestion, gut health and stool quality. On the other hand, Inulin prebiotic included in the formula is not digested or absorbed in the stomach. Rather, the prebiotic supports the normal growth of probiotic bacteria (21) (22) that are associated with improving bowel function (23) and general health. Inulin also decreases the body's ability to make certain kinds of fats.
In regards to dosage, It is recommended to consume one capsule daily before each meal. Single dose of Advanced Digestive Enzymes contains 350mg Enzymes Blend, 30mg Green Papaya, 30mg Apple Pectin, 20mg Ginger, 15mg Turmeric, 15mg Fennel, 10mg Peppermint, 15mg Sea vegetable complex, 233mg Prebiotic & Probiotic complex (1 Billion CFU/g). And as you would expect, if you are pregnant, nursing, or have any medical conditions and allergies, we advise consulting your doctor before use.
Lastly, Here’s a Few Helpful Reminders About Using Digestive Enzymes With Other Medications, Such As:
- Anti-coagulants: Ginger, turmeric, seaweeds and papaya extracts in this product might increase the effects of anti-coagulants and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. Talk to your healthcare provider. The dose of your medication might need to be changed.
- Diabetes medication: This supplement contains ginger and papaya extracts. Taking this supplement with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
- Calcium channel blockers: Ginger extract in this product might reduce blood pressure in a way that is similar to some medications for blood pressure and heart disease. Taking ginger along with these medications might cause your blood pressure to drop too low or an irregular heartbeat. Talk to your healthcare provider. The dose of your medication might need to be changed.
- Oral medications: This product contains digestive enzymes and pectin which is high in fiber. These enzymes and fiber can affect the absorption and effectiveness of oral medications. As a general rule, any medications taken by mouth should be taken one hour before or four hours after this supplement to prevent this interaction.
- Contraceptive drugs: Some birth control pills contain estrogen. Fennel extract in this product might have some of the same effects as estrogen. However, fennel is NOT as strong as the estrogen in birth control pills. Taking this supplement along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills.
- Anti-cancer drugs: Some types of cancer are affected by hormones in the body. Estrogen-sensitive cancers are cancers that are affected by estrogen levels in the body. Fennel extract in this supplement also seems to affect estrogen levels in the body. Taking fennel along with anti-cancer medication might decrease the effectiveness of these drugs. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have a similar condition.
- Anti-thyroid drugs: The product contains seaweeds extract of Bladderwrack, Nori and Wakame which might contain significant amounts of iodine. Iodine can affect the thyroid. Taking iodine along with medications for an overactive thyroid might decrease the thyroid activity too much. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have a similar condition.
- Immunosuppressants: This product contains essential bacteria and yeast for improving normal gut flora. The immune system usually controls bacteria and yeast in the body to prevent infections. Medications that decrease the immune system can increase your chances of getting sick from bacteria and yeast.
Written by: Dr. Muhammad Ahmad
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product, like all other dietary supplements, is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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