We eat food, but our digestive system doesn’t absorb food, it absorbs nutrients. Food has to be broken down from food into amino acids (from proteins), fatty acids and cholesterol (from fats), and simple sugars (from carbohydrates), as well as vitamins, minerals, and a variety of other plant and animal compounds.
Digestive enzymes, primarily produced in the pancreas and small intestine (but also salivary glands and stomach), break down our food into nutrients so that our bodies can absorb them. Digestive enzymes are found in Probiotic Whey, Maximise and Synthesis.
If we don’t have enough digestive enzymes, we can’t break down our food—which means even though we’re eating well, we aren’t absorbing all that good nutrition. Certain diseases can prevent digestive enzymes from working correctly. Pancreatic problems, including Cystic Fibrosis can cause severe problems, along with the long standing Coeliac disease and the more familiar Crohn’s disease.
Chronic stress is the most common reason for digestive enzyme problems. Our body has two modes: sympathetic ‘fight or flight’, and parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’. When we’re in ‘fight or flight’ mode, digestion is given a very low priority, which means digestive function (including digestive enzyme output) is dialled down. Chronic stress means that we are in constant ‘fight of flight’ mode, and therefore, gives us impaired digestive enzyme output.
Managing chronic stress is vitally important to restoring healthy digestive function. Most of us eat food while we’re at our desks or while we’re on the go, then we’re off to do the next thing on our list. We live most of our lives in sympathetic mode—and aren’t giving a high priority to properly digesting our food. When we sit down to eat food, we should switch into a parasympathetic mode and ideally stay in parasympathetic mode for a while afterwards.