How many supplements do you take on a daily basis? Maybe it’s a multi-vitamin? Maybe it’s some vitamin C or a B Complex? Or if you are like many of us who are getting older and trying to improve our health or how we feel, it’s a drawer full of different supplements.
The truth is, ideally most of those vitamins and minerals we take naturally occur through our food, and if we are eating a healthy and diverse diet, we really don’t need most of those supps all of the time. The problem is that many of us find we do need the supplements because our food is not as rich in nutrients due to over farming, and another very likely reason we may not even realize is because we are not absorbing enough from the food we are taking because of age, stress, or genetic issues like MTHFR mutations.
Why are Pancreatic Enzymes So Important?
That little gland between our spine and our stomach that connects to the top of our intestines is responsible for ideally dumping about 8 cups of enzymatic liquid into our gut (are you drinking enough water to even sustain that?) to break down the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in the food we eat so that our gut can then later absorb the other nutrients within those broken chains that includes essential vitamins and minerals within them. Our body then uses those building blocks, and nutrients to then go and build something else– our cells, our hormones, our neurotransmitters, our detoxification pathways and more! Essentially all of the working elements and physiology to keep us youthful and healthy.
But by age 50, most people only produce about HALF the digestive enzymes they did in their 20’s. As we age, our body breaks down. Optimal amounts of digestive enzymes are an essential element of youth! Therefore, with less enzymes, we begin the breakdown of all aspects in our health that comes with age. When we complicate the issue by not eating the proper food to aid our digestion, then our body has to steal from metabolic enzymes that we need to do other things, and we are left more and more depleted.
That alone should have you running to your Amazon cart or local market to grab some enzymes, but what if you are still young?
Stress and Genetics as Complicators
While age alone is a common cause for poor pancreatic digestive enzyme production, other issues can also cause a depletion. One such issue is stress. Stress puts our body into flight or fight mode and does not produce the necessary enzymes for rest and digestion. Being in a constant state of stress stops your body’s production of pancreatic enzymes so making sure to implement stress-reducing activities is extremely important as well in aiding your body’s ability to produce these enzymes on their own. Other issues can include MTHFR mutations which require you to often take in more vitamin B’s and natural folate for your body to create those enzymes. Taking an enzyme can therefore help you absorb more vitamin B which can then help you make more enzymes naturally as well.
What are the common enzymes produced by the pancreas and what do they do?
Amylase helps break down carbohydrates. There is a little in your saliva which starts the process, but the majority is done by your pancreas. If you are not properly digesting your carbohydrates you can experience digestive issues like bloating, loose stools and diarrhea.
Proteases help break down proteins into the building blocks of protein. It starts in your stomach and then the rest is done in upper intestine. They also help the immune system by fighting parasites such as bacteria, yeast and protozoa in the intestines. If you are struggling to create enough of protease you may notice more allergies and intestinal infections. They also decrease inflammation in the body which is directly connected to disease.
Lipases help break down fats. And contrary to prior belief, we need fat! Fat is necessary for the absorption of certain essential vitamins like K , D, and A and actually helps us burn fat and make youthful hormones among so much more. If you have poor fat absorption, you may notice digestive issues like diarrhea and/or fatty stools (floating or greasy looking).
Benefits of Taking Pancreatic Enzymes in the Long Run
A good bottle of enzymes is an essential and foundational supplement to have on hand that could in the long-run replace an entire a drawerful of supplements and therefore could help you with all sorts of your ailments since our entire body’s systems are built from the building blocks we get from our food. If you struggle with a poor immune system, anxiety, ADHD, Alzheimers, depression, migraines, hormonal imbalance, and of course digestive issues- pick up a bottle and begin feeling better.
Whether you are getting older, are stressed, or have a MTHFR mutation, slowing down to rest and eat as well as taking an enzyme supplement will be extremely helpful in helping support your health and youth.
What to Look for When Shopping for Enzymes.
You want to find an enzyme that includes either Pancreatin (includes all three foundational enzymes including Amylase, Protease, and Lipase) or you can find them in enzymes listed separately as Amylase, Protease, and Lipase.
I like and use Vital Nutrients Pancreatic and Ox Bile enzymes.
NOW also makes an affordable Pancreatin without Ox Bile that you can build on. I usually take 1-4 per meal.
Most people at a minimum need between 10k-20k USP unit for Amylase and Protease. For Lipase, you don’t want more than 17k USP units unless you are over 150 lbs.
>>>Additional supplements you may want to look for are bromelain, trypsin, papain, chymtrypsin, and Rutin.
Note– most pancreatic enzymes are derived from either bovine or porcine and most closely resemble human pancreatic enzymes. But if you need a kosher or vegetarian source you can find those as well. The following options come from reputable supplement companies with great reviews:
Pure Encapsulations Vegetarian Enzymes
Enzymetica Basic – These are really low dosage, so you may need a few of these pills to get the benefits you need. Some trial and error will help you figure out the best dosage for you. If your belly hurts when you eat usually, then a tell tale sign you are at the right dosage is when you eat and your belly doesn’t hurt anymore afterward. 🙂