Good digestive health is critical to a healthy weight, supports a strong immunity, allows for optimum nutrient absorption, and impacts our body’s homeostasis in many other ways. (1) The gut is often referred to as “the second brain” of the body. Though it is quite impressive, the digestive tract or gastrointestinal (GI) tract wouldn’t be able to do what it does so well without key supporting players. These are called digestive enzymes and the digestive biome. Let me tell you a little more about each and why both are absolutely essential.
Digestive enzymes are naturally produced by the body and found throughout the gastrointestinal tract. These enzymes work to digest food starting in the mouth, and throughout the gastrointestinal tract they break down fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and many other things. Here are a few examples of digestive enzymes:
- Lipase – helps the body to process and break down fats
- Amylase – helps break down carbohydrates
- Protease – helps break down proteins
- Lactase – helps digest lactose
- Alpha-galactosidase – helps break down complex carbs in beans, vegetables, and grains
- Phytase – helps digest phytic acid in grains, nuts, and legumes
- Cellulase – helps process cellulose, a type of plant fiber
Without the right balance of these workhorses, we wouldn’t be able to absorb nutrients from our food, leading to GI issues and malnutrition. Unfortunately, we can get into a state where we don’t produce enough or a variety of digestive enzymes. This is when we are in a stressed state or when our gut isn’t in balance. (2) So what do you do then? Well, digestive enzymes can be found in the food we eat and in supplement form. Ensuring you are getting enough enzymes by actively taking them orally with your meals can help your GI tract get back on track.
Much is still to be researched about the microbiome, but one thing we know for sure is that our GI biome is made up of a complex, interconnected network of healthy gut bacteria, fungi, and other microbes. These microbes are introduced as babies and support us throughout our whole lives. (3) But similar to digestive enzymes, our microbiome can get out of balance. This can be from environmental influences, sickness, antibiotics, and other catalysts. One thing you can do to support your microbiome is eating foods that have probiotics and taking a probiotic supplement. These boost the healthy microbe count so that any bad microbes don’t get the chance to take over.
Both digestive enzymes and having a healthy biome are essential for optimal health. Our bodies thrive when in balance and homeostasis is achieved. Let’s make sure we are doing everything we can to help our bodies thrive.