EDUCATION / Q & A / Interesting Facts

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What is nutrition?

Nutrition involves all of the following steps:
1. Choosing and eating healthy foods
2. Digesting those foods
3. Absorbing the nutrients
4. Transporting the nutrients to our cells
5. Eliminating waste in a timely manner.
Often times, nutrition is only viewed as eating healthy, but the remaining process impacts our nutritional status and our health significantly.

What are digestive enzymes?

Digestive Enzymes are enzymes that specifically work in the digestive system to facilitate the digestion, absorption, and transportation of nutrients. They also work to promote timely elimination of digestive waste products that are not of use to the body. Without enzymes, our cells would not get adequate nutrition and we would not survive.

How do enzymes work in our bodies?

Enzymes function as catalysts to enhance and dramatically speed up biochemical reactions that occur in every one of our cells. They are only activated in water, so staying hydrated is very important for enzymes to work effectively. Enzymes must be present to ensure proper digestion of nutrients, energy production, metabolism, transportation of fluid to cells, and elimination of toxins among many other functions.

Why do I need supplemental enzymes?

Since we know that enzymes are essential for everyday life, it is important to realize the factors that decrease and/or inactivate enzymes. Stress, eating too fast, not chewing enough, eating a poor diet, not drinking enough water everyday, cooking foods at high temperatures and aging are all factors that work against our digestive system. When we do these things on a continual basis for long periods of time, we put constant stress on our digestive systems to work even in sub-optimal conditions. Poor nutrition resulting from poor digestion and absorption leads to accumulation of food residues in our intestines that eventually become toxic to our health. This can lead to multiple mild symptoms such as headaches, fatigue after eating, gastrointestinal discomfort, constipation, etc. as well as create an environment in our bodies conducive to disease. Enzyme supplementation simply supports the digestive system and related organs to do what they were intended to do…efficiently breakdown the foods we eat into molecules that our bodies can benefit from and eliminate potentially toxic matter.

What is the difference between pancreatic enzymes, plant enzymes and animal enzymes?

• Pancreatic enzymes are enzymes that your pancreas secretes into your stomach when you begin to eat.
• Plant enzymes are enzymes that plants produce. These types of enzymes are widely used for supplementation because

they are safe, more stable throughout the digestive tract, and can be distributed without a prescription.
• Animal enzymes are prescription enzymes, known as Pancreatin, that are harvested from animal pancreas tissue.

Pancreatin is typically only prescribed by medical doctors for patients with pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.

Can food enzymes fight disease?
Enzymes exist in foods to help our bodies breakdown what we eat. Raw, uncooked foods are the only foods that contain enzymes. Since the majority of our diets are cooked foods, we significantly limit the enzymes available in our food for digestion, thus putting more stress on our digestive systems. Some supplemental enzymes should be taken with food to enhance digestion and absorption of nutrients, whereas other supplemental enzymes should be taken on an empty stomach to support circulation, decrease inflammation, support our immune systems and combat stress. Imbalances in these factors have been scientifically proven to be associated with or the cause of numerous diseases.

Digestive Function

Digestive Process: When you put a bite of food in your mouth, the enzymes found in the food and in your saliva should begin to break down the food, mainly carbohydrates, into simpler molecules. When you swallow, the food will pass into your stomach where stomach acid continues the digestion process. Carbohydrates leave the stomach first, second are proteins and last to leave are fats. These macronutrients pass into the small intestine where the gallbladder releases bile to help with digestion of fats and the pancreas secretes enzymes to help with digestion of carbohydrates and proteins. Eventually, after much of the absorption of nutrients occurs in the small intestine, the food material then moves into the large intestine, where absorption of water and a few more nutrients occurs. After this point, the remaining material moves toward the end of the colon (large intestine) to be excreted as a bowel movement. As you can see, many steps are required to ensure efficient digestion, which can be easily hindered when our foods don’t have enough enzymes in them, as we age and when we are chronically stressed. We only have one digestive system, so it’s imperative that we take the necessary steps to take care of it!

Short term: Carbohydrates and starches ferment in the intestines in order for beneficial bacteria to provide us with more nutrients. However, Candida, bacteria normally found in your intestines, will grow out of control if carbohydrates are not completely broken down which promotes bloating, gas, cramping and overall fatigue. Proteins (from foods such as eggs, meats, or nuts) if not digested properly will putrefy in your intestines causing increased growth of harmful bacteria. This can lead to indigestion, acid-reflux, inflammation, lowered immune function and bloating. Fats that are not thoroughly digested turn rancid in the intestines and create pungent, odorous gas, discomfort and an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Poorly digested fats also interfere with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and other nutrients.

Long term: Often times, because foods are not always completely digested and remain in the intestines for long periods of time, the lining of the intestines can begin to wear thin. MedicineNet.Com states that this allows the food particles, now viewed as toxins, to enter the blood stream and initiate an attack from the immune system. Over time, this can manifest itself as a chronically lowered immune system, fatigue, food cravings, high cholesterol, calcium deposits, arthritis, cellulite, inflammatory conditions and artery plaque, says Dr. Jeffrey Bland, author of a book entitled Digestive Enzymes.

Lack of nutrient delivery
When undigested food particles leak out of the intestines, they congest the blood stream and interfere with normal transportation of absorbed nutrients to cells. Also, the circulatory system becomes overwhelmed with the increased number of particles, which reduces normal oxygen flow and can create susceptibility to cardiovascular problems and inflammatory conditions.

Why We Crave Certain Foods

An article written in 1998 and posted on states that the foods our bodies are most challenged in digesting and absorbing are the foods we crave the most because our cells are not getting the nutrients they need to function. For example, Dr. Fink, a professor at the University of California says that if you produce inadequate amounts of lipase, the enzyme that digests fat, you may be susceptible to lower absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and a build up of fat in the body. As a result, you will typically crave and “love” foods high in fat content such as stuffed pizza, sausage, fries and ice cream, all of which contain fat-soluble vitamins your body may lack. These foods provide a temporary sense of relief and comfort because your body knows it needs these nutrients.

An impaired ability to digest fats combined with a high fat diet may start out as mild symptoms such as heartburn, high cholesterol, weight gain and gallstones, but may progress into fatty liver, arteriosclerosis, fatty stools, gallbladder problems, obesity and other major health conditions if not addressed. Lack of vitamins A, D, E & K may result in a number of health concerns such as vision impairment, osteoporosis, unhealthy mucous membranes in the intestines and nasal tissues, and an inability to clot, respectively.

Genetics and Enzyme Need

Have you noticed if you and a friend or someone you know are following the same diet or taking the same supplement, you both experience different results? Maybe you lost a good amount of weight and felt energized, whereas your friend didn’t lost much weight, had a constant upset stomach and felt rundown? This is an example of how genetics affects how our bodies handle the foods we eat and the products we supplement with. Genetics also determine how many enzyme “stores” we have that we can draw from throughout life and how efficiently we can handle stress, food and environmental toxins. Everyone is unique, and it’s important to understand the way your body works so that you can know what enzymes will work best for you. You can also schedule a body typing consultation with Nutrition by Natalie to learn more about your body.

Interesting Facts about the Human Body:

1. There are over 3,000 different types of enzymes in the human body.
2. These 3,000 enzymes must be present in each one of our 100 trillion cells to function normally.
3. We have 1,000 trillion bacteria in our bodies.
4. The use of supplemental plant enzymes was discovered in the early 1930’s.
5. The pancreas should only be responsible for about 50% of digestion (enzyme secretion) whereas the rest of the enzymes should come from raw foods.
6. Co-enzymes, necessary partners in enzyme reactions, are mostly B-vitamins. B-vitamins work together with enzymes to release energy from the foods we eat. This is why “energy” drinks and “energy” bars contain B vitamins.
7. The reason why chronic fevers over 104 degrees F can be fatal is because the intense heat permanently destroys the body’s enzymes so it is no longer able to perform necessary functions.
8. We have more immune cells in our digestive systems than we do in the rest of our body.
9. Many enzymes become inactive in an acidic pH, thus the reason that many diseases are created and prolonged in acidic pH’s.
10. An adult’s small and large intestines combined are about 30 feet long.
11. Most people shed about 40 lbs of dead skin in a lifetime.
12. About 400 gallons of blood flow through our kidneys on any given day.
13. We produce 1.5 liters or 6 1/3 cups of saliva a day.
14. An adult’s stomach can hold about 1.5 liters or 6 1/3 cups of material at one time.
15. It takes about 1 minute for a red blood cell to travel through the entire body.
16. The average time it takes to digest a high fat meal is 6 hours. The average time to digest a high carbohydrate meal is 2 hours.
17. Taste buds only last about 10 days before being replaced.
18. By age 60, most people have permanently lost about 50% of their taste buds.
19. There are an equal number of nerve cells in our digestive system as in our central nervous system.
20. 95% of serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter that is essential to us feeling happy, well, and content, is housed in the digestive tract.
21. Many people on anti-depressant medications experience gastrointestinal side effects because of the relationship between the brain and the gut.