stomach hurtsI was loving those digestive enzymes when my stomach was yelling at me after a bout with the stomach virus!  Yesterday, I blogged about it and said I would give you the scoop on what they are and how they work along with some info on probiotics. Here goes. Digestive enzymes are a supplement available in powder or pill form, filled with ingredients that help us digest our food better and absorb nutrients when our gut is compromised.

So you might ask, why do I need a digestive enzyme? Doesn’t my body have it’s own arsenal of enzymes to break down the food I eat? Well, truth be told, not everyone needs a digestive enzyme.  Our bodies contain a host of enzymes designed to break down the fats, proteins and carbs that we ingest. Unfortunately, many of us are living with comprised immune systems because we overeat, take medications, lack exercise, drink alcohol, live in world of toxicity from the environment and processed food, and continually cope with daily stress. That sounds like a pretty bleak picture, but paying attention to the signals your body is giving you that “something is off”, and possibly adding a digestive enzyme along with some good healthy living can go a long way to help you manage feelings of being unwell! At least temporarily!

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to chew your food – slowly. That one simple action has the ability to change a lot if you suffer from stomach upset. I know, it almost sounds too simple, but as Nike says ‘just do it’, and you will be come a believer!just chew

Although there are many people, laymen and professionals, who recommend taking digestive enzymes as we age due to a decrease, Dr. John Douillard (DC, CAP who is a globally recognized leader in the fields of natural health and Ayurveda) disagrees with that. He says it isn’t the enzymes that decrease, but “the channels they use to reach our digestive tract that can become over crowded and difficult to navigate.”  He believes that most of us can have the super powers associated with youth via great digestion as we age without turning to supplements. Dr. John recommends eating more “bile-movers such as raw beets, celery, apples, artichokes and leafy greens.” He makes the point that “the cellulose in greens will attach to the toxic bile and escort it to the toilet like a non-stop flight!”  His other recommendations include drinking Fenugreek Tea, eating cinnamon with each meal, having a big glass of water 20 minutes before each meal, and drinking organic olive oil with 1-2 tsp. of lemon juice every day for a month on an empty stomach.

Dr. John says that when we take digestive enzymes continually over time, our system’s own innate ability to cleanse begins to depend on the supplement, and stops working so hard to perform its’ job.

On to Probiotics – live microorganisms (think bacteria and yeast) found in the gut, and largely in the intestinal tract. A little fun fact: probiotic means “for life.” microbes

90% of the cells in our body are microbes while only 10% are human cells. There are two types of probiotics on the market. The one most available is called Transitory because it passes through providing some benefit as it does.  The second type called Colonizing probiotics do exactly what it sounds like – they colonize, thus helping the good guys increase and take home the win!

I think if I was to ask the question, what foods contain probiotics, most would respond with the answer of ‘yogurt’. The general consensus may be that we can just eat yogurt to add some good, friendly bacteria to our gut. Unfortunately, the bacteria some yogurts contain don’t pass into our gastrointestinal tract. According to Dr. Stefano Guandalini, (Chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, and medical Director of the Celiac Disease Center) at the University of Chicago,  the strains contained in basic yogurt (lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus) “are destroyed by acidity of the stomach and the enzymes of the pancreas, so nothing reaches the colon and it’s not beneficial.” Yogurts containing strains of live Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli have been studied and are thought to be helpful. I’m not certain how the added sugars in many yogurts affect these strains of bacteria, but something tells me plain yogurt will beat out the sugary stuff each time. So the next time you go shopping to pick up some yogurt take a look at the ingredient label to be sure you’re getting the good stuff that will help your gut.

Researchers are working to study the effects of probiotics and have had some success in finding some that help with treating urinary tract infection, diarrhea and a couple of other conditions. The catch is that different probiotics address different areas of the body.

Be sure to research to make an informed decision should you decide to include this supplement into your daily food plan.

The human body is magnificent! I like to think of it as a genius machine. Thoughts of what’s inside us and how it works leave me with my mouth hanging wide open in awe!  Not a pretty sight, and maybe one of the less magnificent things my body can do!

Take a pause to take care of your genius machine by filling it up with good healthy fuel, positive thoughts, and movement!