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It all started when I posted a photo of truffle french fries in one hand and couple of digestive enzymes in the other. I captioned the photo “the annual digestive enzymes & truffle fries balancing act” (plus some emoji’s) and I watched as tons of messages and questions about digestive enzymes rolled in. So in this episode, I roll out all the information I believe you need to know to determine whether or not digestive enzymes are right for you! I also roll with a great comparison between digestive enzymes…and spanx.
Digestive Enzymes Spark Notes:
[Side note: I am far from a doctor, or even an actual nutritionist. So I’m just reporting on my experience and understanding of all this stuff, kapish?]
Digestive enzymes are like Spanx.
- In the same way that Spanx can’t CHANGE your body – your bone structure, height, weight on the scale, etc. digestive enzymes can’t CHANGE your digestive system: they can’t suddenly make you not allergic to peanuts or make it so 2 cupcakes don’t go straight to your love handles. What they CAN do, much like Spanx, is give you an advantage, you know?
- Like Spanx can get rid of your panty lines or make your stomach appear flatter in your gown, digestive enzymes can lessen the blow that a few french fries takes on your heartburn, or help you digest that holiday pie quicker than without them.
- I take and recommend digestive enzymes if you’re about to eat something you notoriously don’t digest very easily.
What are digestive enzymes?
- Our body naturally makes digestive enzymes. (Because all that a digestive enzyme is, is an enzyme that helps us digest!)
- Digestive enzymes are proteins that create specific chemical reactions when we eat – they make our bodies chemically break down the food we eat into smaller, absorbable components. (This is good because we want to be able to absorb each and every nutrient in the healthy plants that we’re eating.) And the harder our bodies work to break that shiz down, the more kind of, side effects we’ll experience. Like heartburn, bloating, indigestion and stomach aches…the exact opposite of how we want to feel after eating, right?
- Lactase – tells our bodies to break down the sugars found in dairy (aka lactose).
- Amylase – break down starches
- Protease – breaks down proteins
- Lipase – breaks down fat.
- Digestive enzymes are just like our hair, some of us have got more than others. So for some people, digesting certain foods can be a bit more challenging. If you’re lacking lipase, for example, it could be harder for your bod to break down fat. This means that it could send undigested pieces of your perfectly ripe avocado into your digestive tract and cause unwanted gas and bloating! Oy vey.
So what causes your body to run low on digestive enzymes?
From my understanding, chronic stress, low grade inflammation in the tum tum, some chronic diseases and most importantly, eating a crappy diet!!!! As you know I have that lovely “IBS” BS diagnosis which I believe was a result of chronic stress and anxiety plus a crappy diet..plus just being born with an above averagely sensitive stomach.
Can you take too many?
- Though I don’t believe there are really negatives on your body if you take digestive enzymes too much, there are definitely negatives on your bank account, because that’ll $$$ add up!
- And as with any supplement, you really don’t want to go cray and become depending, a supplement is called a supplement because it SUPPLEMENTS your life; it’s not called a CANTLIVEWITHOUTLMENT!
Are they a permanent fix?
- Taking digestive enzymes is not something at all I’d suggest as a permanent fix. (Hence why I’ve been comparing them to spanx.) I mean, we all wanna live without spanx, which is why we eat well and exercise, right? We all wanna live without digestive enzymes, too, which is also why we … ha, ironically…eat well and exercise! But sometimes life happens…truffle fries happen, and popping a few digestive enzymes can help give that tummy of mine a boost in breaking down the hard to digest deep fried potato strings that taste heavenly but will make me feel horrible if not for the digestive enzymes!
How Digestive enzymes are like insurance:
- Much like insurance is there to protect you from things you CAN’T ANTICIPATE, I carry around a few digestive enzymes to protect me when there are hard-to-digest situations I can’t anticipate.
- Example: if I unexpectedly get a really unpleasant email just as I’m sitting down to eat dinner. Eating while experiencing negative emotions can really negatively affect digestion, so I could pop a few digestive enzymes before eating to give me a little digestive boost.
- Another time digestive enzymes might come in uber-handy is when you’re traveling!!! Traveling takes a tremendous toll on our ability to digest. The stress, the chaos, the foreign food, time differences, airplane madness, sleep deprivation, dehydration…all that jazz can totally eff up our ability to break down the food we eat.
- Digestive enzymes were in every pocket or purse I took around with me in Thailand. Remember my trip to Thailand that I raved about in episode #21? I brought digestive enzymes with me and used them quite a bit in the beginning when the jet lag was still a thing and my body was so busy recovering from the 20-hour flight that I didn’t want to burden it with the task of breaking down my spicy food!
You might be wondering, when Do I TAKE digestive enzymes?:
- My experience is, as close to eating that food as possible but don’t stress about it.
- You want the enzymes to be in your bod during the moments of the hard-digesting. So that means ideally you wanna take it the moment you dive in for your first fry. If you forget, midway through your fry eating is great too. And if you even forget that, you can still pop some enzymes a handful of minutes (not hours, minutes) after the completion of the fries.
- Digestive enzymes are helpers – they HELP US DIGEST BETTER. (But they are not a miracle cure.)
- Breaking down our food better can help us have less heartburny issues, less bloating, less stomach pain and even MAYBE lose weight (since undigested food can just sit in us making us store extra weight!) – all GREAT stuff! But if you’re looking for like, a genie in a digestive-enzyme-pill bottle, to make all your food digest perfectly and your weight fly off easily, you’re looking in the wrong bottle.
- Also – you really don’t need to purchase digestive enzymes if you don’t struggle to digest! I take them because, if you remember my story that I told you back in episode 0, I’ve got that IBS thing so my digestion isn’t always top notch. If yours is – CONGRATS! Be oh-SO thankful and skip those enzymes altogether.
Now if you’re wondering what enzymes I recommend…
my favorites are:
And I also dig these from Whole Foods:
As I mentioned in the podcast, helping people’s bellies feel better is a huge component of what I do with my private coaching clients.
Again, I’m not doctor, but instead of an MD I have an ME: my personal experience of alleviating all of my IBS symptoms and digestive woes like WOAH. Without doing things that make you go ohhhhh 🙁 If working with me privately sounds up your alley, I’d love to offer you a 15% discount since you’re a listener of my podcast! Just reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and mention this episode and we’ll get you and your belly friends again for 15% cheaper!