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Help for Indigestion:
Undigested Food, Toxic Body

Americans are known for their fondness for overeating, the most obvious sign of our glutton being the fact that the majority of us are overweight. But there is also a less evident, although just as serious, consequence to our culinary indulgence—a dangerous buildup of toxins in our digestive tracts.

Besides making us fat, excessive eating can overwhelm the body’s supply of beneficial digestive enzymes. Without sufficient enzymes to help break down our voluminous food intake, undigested proteins, starches and fats can accumulate in the colon and release harmful toxins that may then be absorbed into the bloodstream. Research confirms our penchant for overconsumption.

Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that in the past 40 years women have increased their daily caloric intake by more than 20 percent, while men are eating at least 7 percent more calories each day. It’s no surprise that this huge volume of food can overpower the body’s ability to process nutrients and eliminate waste. The human body wasn’t designed for today’s perpetual fast food extravaganza.

Enzyme Control

When your diet consists of too many calories and large helpings of junk food, undesirable events take place in the digestive tract. For example, if you consume too much sugar and too little fiber, you deprive the beneficial florae that dwell in the intestines of their sustenance. While those good-for-you bacteria can survive on fiber-rich complex carbohydrates, they often can’t metabolize sugar. As a result, some species begin digesting the mucus in the intestines to keep from starving. That can make the intestinal walls more vulnerable to infection by Candida and other pathogens that thrive on the simple sugars found in processed foods. Overeating has also been shown to accelerate the aging process by inhibiting the cells’ natural ability to dispose of damaged proteins and fats.

Clinical studies show that nerve and brain cells in particular depend upon digestive enzymes to deactivate free radicals—highly unstable molecules, caused by normal chemical reactions in the body, which can damage healthy cells. As we grow older and our production of digestive enzymes decreases, we become more prone to the damage caused by free radicals.

Experts consider a degree of this accumulation process to be a normal component of aging, but the more you eat, the more quickly you may age as you deplete your supply of digestive enzymes. The age-associated disease Alzheimer’s, for example, is characterized by the buildup of damaged proteins that lead to progressive cell death.

Enzyme Supply

In the past the human diet contained plenty of raw foods to help re-supply the digestive tract with enzymes. Today, however, when most of the foods we eat are cooked or heavily processed (both of which deplete enzymes), our meals often are lacking in beneficial enzymes. What’s more, because even the raw foods we eat are typically transported and refrigerated, their natural enzyme content is lowered even further.

Aside from speeding up the aging process, enzyme deficiency can put added stress on the body’s organs, such as the pancreas, which are then required to pump out extra enzymes. And when they can’t keep up with the enzyme demand, the buildup of undigested food can make you more vulnerable to conditions such as heartburn and candida overgrowth, and may even contribute to the development of a fatty liver. Since foods consist of complex array of different natural chemicals, the human digestive tract is designed to employ a wide selection of enzymes chemically tailored to interact with each particular class of nutrients.

When choosing a supplemental enzyme formula, look for one that incorporates a variety of different enzymes to ensure complete and proper digestion. Plant-based enzymes are more versatile and effective throughout the entire digestive tract; they can perform their catalytic duties across a wider range of acidity and alkalinity within the body. Other things to look for in an effective natural enzyme formula include:

  • Protease and papain to help digest proteins
  • Amylase to assist with the breakdown of starches
  • Lipase to help digest fats and oils
  • Cellulase to help break down the cell wall of fruits and vegetables
  • Phytase to help digest grains such as wheat (thus freeing their mineral content)
  • Xylanase to help digest the cell wall material in vegetarian foods
  • Invertase to help the body break down sugar
  • Pectinase to help break down the cell wall of fruits such as oranges and apples

Lactase, the enzyme that helps break down milk sugar, is another important ingredient that should be included in your daily enzyme formula. About three out of every four Americans suffer some degree of lactose intolerance, meaning they lack sufficient lactase to help them digest dairy foods. When lactase levels are low, consuming milk products can lead to digestive issues such as gas, bloating, nausea and heartburn. In addition, lactose intolerance can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramping, headaches, rashes and even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Go Slow on Fast Food

Along with taking enzymes, eating fewer processed foods and cutting back on fast food can help reduce the toxicity of your digestive tract. Not only that, but consuming plenty of high-fiber fruits and vegetables is crucial, as research shows that fiber can help eliminate toxins in your colon that can build up as the result of the fermentation of undigested proteins. So while overeating threatens to overpower the body’s enzyme supply, an appropriate enzyme supplement can swing the balance of power back in your favor. Combined with better food choices, taking a daily digestive enzyme can help your body with its never-ending tasks of eliminating toxins and striving for optimal health.

The material on this page is for consumer informational and educational purposes only, under section 5 of DSHEA.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this website is intended as, or should be construed as, medical advice. Consumers should consult with their own health care practitioners for individual, medical recommendations. The information in this website concerns dietary supplements, over-the-counter products that are not drugs. Our dietary supplement products are not intended for use as a means to cure, treat, prevent, diagnose, or mitigate any disease or other medical or abnormal condition.