Digestive enzymes work by breaking down food in both the mouth and gut to release the nutrients. Once the nutrients are released, they can be absorbed across the intestinal barrier into the blood stream. These enzymes are produced in your saliva and as exocrine secretions from the pancreas. Specific normal signals during the consumption of food trigger the release of the digestive enzymes.
The health of the digestive tract including structure and function of the gastric and intestinal mucosa; pH and composition of the gut microbiota play a key role in how the digestive enzymes function and the process of digestion.
Dysfunction in your digestive enzymes can lead to a number of symptoms including;
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Undigested food in the stools
There are three main types of digestive enzymes
Protease – break down protein
Lipases - break down fat
Amylases: break down carbohydrates
We are able to find some of these digestive enzymes in certain foods which will assist our body in the breakdown of food.
- Pineapple conations a group of digestive enzymes, bromelain which fall into the group proteases. The role of proteases is to break down protein into its building blocks, amino acids. This aids in the digestion and absorption of proteins. Therefore, having pineapple after a large protein heavy meal can help ease the digestion.
- Like pineapple, papaya also contains proteases that help digest protein, these are named papain.
- Mangoes contain the group of digestive enzymes amylase which are responsible for breaking down complex carbohydrates like stair into simple sugars like glucose and maltose.
- Banans also help breakdown complex carbohydrates as they contain amylases as well as glucosidases. Both bananas and mango sweeten as they ripen, and that is because the enzymes break down the starch in the fruit and convert them to simple sugars, which makes them sweeter.
- Ginger contains a protease which digest protein into their building blocks. Have ginger tea in the evening may help ease digestion.
- Avocados contain the digestive enzyme lipase. Lipase helps digest fat molecules into smaller molecules, such as fatty acids and glycerol which are easier for the body to absorb. Consuming avocado after a high fat meal can help ease digestion.
- Fermented foods including sauerkraut, miso and kefir not only contain digestive enzymes but also friendly bacteria. Both the action of the digestive enzymes and live bacteria both help to ease digestion.
Live bacteria don't work as a digestive enzyme however they can assist in the breakdown of food and the creation of certain vitamins therefore, can be used alongside digestive enzymes to help breakdown of food and ease digestion.
If you want more information about the use of natural digestive enzymes and friendly bacteria in your diet, book a free 1-1 call with one of our expert nutritionists by clicking here.