I hope 2016 has started off incredibly for you.  Today we’re moving onto the next foundation to healthy digestion.


So far I covered why digestion is the hub to your health, and the essential role stomach acid plays in absorbing iron, mineral and protein.  You can find these blogs here and here.


Digestive enzymes are the key step for absorbing your meal as it makes it’s way down through your digestive system.  They’re also super important for your hormonal health, mental wellbeing, AND longevity.


If you have issues linked to nutritional deficiencies like hair, skin and nail issues, fatigue, and low iron enzymes are an important consideration for you.  Not having enough enzymes can also create digestive issues like gas and bloating.


What are digestive enzymes?

Enzymes are your digestive juices.  They help break down the carbohydrates, fat and protein from your meal into tiny pieces (we’re talking 1 millionth of a millimeter!) so that you can absorb it.


If your enzymes don’t completely break down the delicious food you ate, it can’t cross through your gut lining and into your body.  It’s like trying to fit golf balls through pinheads – not successful!


Instead, your meal ends up as a food source for unwanted bacteria further down the line in your gut.


Digestive enzymes also help keep your gut lining healthy.  The sensitive lining of your gut makes sure things that you eat that may harm you don’t make their into your body.  This job is so important that over 50% of your immune system lives right near this barrier!


If food isn’t digested well, it bounces around on it’s way through and damages your gut’s sensitive lining.  This causes inflammation and over time can create “leaky gut”, where larger pieces of food pass through the protective barrier.


When bigger pieces of food get past your gut barrier, it’s a MAJOR trigger for your immune system.


This is why digestive health is so important for those of you with auto-immune, allergies and inflammatory conditions.


If you have multiple food sensitivities or a very “sensitive’ digestion there is a good chance your gut barrier is inflamed.


Overall, enzymes prevent your meal from turning into a buffet for unwanted bacteria and yeast in your digestive tract, help you absorb all nutrients, and prevent damage to your gut lining.


Two ways to up your digestive enzymes

1.  Get your stomach acid levels up – (yep, you heard me right :).  When your stomach levels go up before a meal it sends the message further down your digestive tract to make digestive enzymes.   This “heads up” is an important part of priming your digestion and getting the most out of your meal.


2. Chew your food – it might seem obvious, but it took me a long time to realize how quickly I ate my food, and even longer to develop a habit of actually chewing my food thoroughly!  This is the first step to helping you get the most nutrients out of your meal and avoiding digestive issues.

Start with actually sitting down and relaxing to eat.  No driving, walking, or working busily during meals.  Then, begin tuning into how fast you’re eating.  Once you’re connected in with this, practice chewing your food until it’s the consistency of paste.  It will take some concentration at first, but before you know it you’ll be chewing longer without thinking about it at all.


3.  Eat cultured veggies – homemade sauerkraut, kimchi and cultured vegetables contain lots of natural enzymes.  Adding a little to each meal gives your own digestive system a nice boost.


4. Eat raw foods, in moderation – raw foods contain natural enzymes.  Not everyone thrives on raw foods, especially in the winter.  Too much raw food during the colder seasons can create digestive issues like loose stools and make you feel tired.  Tune in to explore how much raw food feels right for you.


5.  Stop chewing gum – your body can’t tell the difference between gum and a real meal.  Have you noticed that you make more saliva when you chew gum?  That’s a sign that your digestion is revved up!  Skipping gum saves your enzymes for the real thing.


6.  Take digestive enzymes – for some of you, taking 1 or 2 enzymes with each meal will be an important support to bring in while you build new habits for heathy digestion.


Take Action Now

Pick one or two tips that caught your attention and curiosity and run with it!

Let me know how it goes for you! 🙂