3 Ways To Boost Your Digestive Enzymes
If you’re looking to treat Leaky Gut Syndrome, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or some other digestive disorder, I hope your health practitioner has explained the role digestive enzymes can play in your healing journey.
As a Gut Expert, Nutritionist and Naturopath in Melbourne, I’ve found that many clients with these conditions are also dealing with digestive enzyme insufficiency.
Gut health issues and enzyme insufficiency usually go hand-in-hand, as having low levels of digestive enzymes can actually cause bloating, indigestion and diarrhoea, SIBO, IBS and nutritional deficiencies. Not to mention, this can also inhibit your ability to treat leaky gut and many other digestive issues, because enzymes are crucial to gut healing and rebuilding villi in the gastrointestinal tract.
Before you begin treating digestive enzyme insufficiency though, it's helpful to understand the potential causes because, well… knowledge is power. And it may hold the key to improving your digestive health in the long term.
Here are 2 common causes of digestive enzyme insufficiency:
- Studies show that digestive enzyme insufficiency is linked to digestive problems (leaky gut, IBS and SIBO), high blood sugar, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, stress and other inflammatory conditions (1,2). This highlights that your health is not a series of isolated symptoms and issues, but a connected network that needs to be treated holistically.
- Science tells us that we produce fewer enzymes as we age. More specifically, your production of enzymes can decrease by approximately 13% every 10 years. This means at 40 years of age, your production is only 75% of that when you were a child, and by 70 years old, you could be producing only a third of the enzymes needed for optimal health (3).
Now that you know the basics of digestive enzymes, I, Rachel Larsson, a gut health Naturopath in Melbourne, want to share with you 3 easy ways you can boost your digestive enzyme status.
1.Have a mix of raw and cooked food in your diet
Diet is about variety and balance, and a diet made up of 100% raw or 100% cooked foods is unlikely to support your health or digestive needs. If you’re someone who can only tolerate cooked foods due to digestive insufficiencies and would like to increase raw foods, please do this slowly.
2. Start intermittent fasting (IF)
There are so many varieties of IF, e.g. 5:2 diet or 12 hours overnight fast, and I can’t say I’m a big fan of any of them. The main reason is that in a state of fasting, your gastric acid triggers the intermittent release of secretin (a hormone) that stimulates your liver and pancreas (4). It can also lead to increased fat mass and poorly regulated insulin (blood sugar) levels in the long run.
3. Chew your food thoroughly
When you chew your food thoroughly, you improve the physical breakdown of food. Additionally, this gives saliva time to lubricate your food and start the digestion of starch and fats via the enzymes Amylase and Lipase. Aim for 20 chews per mouthful (5).
What about digestive enzyme supplements?
a) implementing the 3 tips above to begin boosting your digestive enzyme status, and
b) while you’re waiting for the full effects of your lifestyle changes to show results, consider using a supplement.
Before you choose one though, please know there are loads of digestive enzyme supplements on the market and that they’re not all as good as each other (some can actually be detrimental). That’s why I recommend seeking guidance from a health professional (looking for a Naturopath in Melbourne, anyone?), so that you can find the right product, with the right enzymes, acids or nutrients that your body needs to heal.