Doctor of chiropractic and licensed acupuncturist, Dr. Jeff Donahue is one of those extraordinary holistic practitioners who combines these disciplines of health with nutritional analysis and exercise physiology to balance the three dimensions of life and health: the physical, metabolic and energetic dimensions.
Dr. Jeff is the creator of the “Well Life Blueprint,” which is designed to increase your reserves of energy, which your body needs to heal from any issues, and for continued growth. His goal for his clients is to help maximize their lifestyles to enhance energy, creativity and intuition.
Dr. Jeff emphasizes client responsibility and teaches you how to take care of all aspects of your health and wellness. If you would like to speak to Dr. Jeff about your concerns, you may reach him at his office at 480.654.2920 or through his website www.DrJeffDonahue.com.
The enzyme piece. Our ingested food has made it through the stomach; the importance of stomach acidity to the digestive tract can’t be emphasized enough, as it affects all later functions of the digestive tract. The stomach releases food in small quantities into the next area of digestion, the small intestine. In the beginning part of the small intestine, the packets of food are exposed to digestive enzymes released from the pancreas and the gallbladder to break the larger foods down into their smaller components. These enzymes are dependent on the right amount of stomach acidity for them to activate. Too little stomach acid greatly slows the effectiveness of these chemicals.
Enzymes are powerful chemicals that combine with our food to accelerate its breakdown to the point where the larger compounds are cleaved to be small enough to be absorbed through the walls of the intestine. Enzymes are specific to the type of compound they affect. There are separate enzymes that break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates: proteases, lipases, and amylases, respectively. The slurry of food within the packets needs these digestive aids for extraction of the needed nutrients. Enzymes accomplish at least 40% of digestion, so improper activation (through low stomach acid) or inadequate production of enzymes will greatly hinder the body’s energy production.
Signs and symptoms of insufficient digestive enzymes include food allergies, gas, bloating, foul smelling gas or breath, low energy, and gastric disturbances after eating, including nausea and heartburn.
Tips for better digestive help with enzymes:
Supplementing digestive enzymes can help those who don’t produce enough. It is important to make sure that you pick the right enzyme for the job. Plant-based enzymes work in a broad pH range, which means that if you don’t produce enough stomach acid, these enzymes will work even in the absence of acid. Animal-based enzymes are more pH sensitive, and require a specific pH range for the enzymes to be activated, so you need adequate stomach pH or you may need to supplement additional acid to help those animal-based enzymes work appropriately. The advantage of animal-based products is that they are identical to the compounds our own bodies make.
If you try a plant-based digestive enzyme, make sure that it provide all enzymes to digest all types of macronutrients: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Proteolytic enzymes by themselves are very popular as a natural solution to inflammation. Most inflammation is protein based, so an enzyme specific to proteins (protease) will naturally help by breaking the swelling down. These need to be taken on an empty stomach, as they need to be absorbed by the body to be used internally, not for the digestion of food. These are not digestive enzymes; you will need to find a plant enzyme specific for digestion and that works with all macronutrients.
If a plant-based enzyme works to relieve your symptoms, it is still important to establish if stomach acid is an issue. You can try an animal-based digestive enzyme, and if it doesn’t work as well as the plant-based product, you probably aren’t producing enough stomach acid. Try supplementing the animal-based enzyme with stomach acid (betaine hydrochloride), and if that improves the function, if would be best to find a product with both the betaine hydrochloride and the digestive enzymes as ingredients.
If there is no difference in the use of a plant-based versus animal-based digestive enzyme, then stomach acid levels are probably adequate, but your enzyme production is less than ideal.
Consistent supplementation of digestive enzymes for issues will give the body a break to recoup and repair. Once a normal pattern of digestion is re-established, then a gradual reduction in the enzyme protocols is introduced to see if the body is able to maintain production on its own. If it is unable to do this, then long-term enzyme supplementation may be necessary.
The addition of the enzymes marks the last chemical breakdown of our foods. The rest of the process is about absorption and bacterial breakdown of the remaining foods. More food for thought, so to speak, for future topics.
Yours in health,
Dr. Jeff Donahue