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Digestive health is largely taken for granted until we eat a baked bean & ham casserole or some other food only to feel like we’re going to explode within an hour after our last bite. To be sure, flatulence can be funny—who hasn’t laughed out loud at the campfire scene in “Blazing Saddles?” But what we may not realize is just how critical efficient digestion is to every aspect of our life. In fact, it enables us to continue living! Without the ability to properly digest food and assimilate nutrients, we wouldn’t be able to work, raise a family or travel the world. Gas and bloating most likely signals a lack of sufficient enzymes to break the food down. And if we can’t break food down, the byproducts become toxic to our bodies rather than beneficial. Here’s a brief overview of how the process of digestion works.

  • Starts in the mouth where saliva immediately begins to break down food.
  • The digestion of proteins continues in the stomach where food resides anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours (depending on the food). Hydrochloric acid produced by glands in the stomach along with specific protein enzymes further break down food; then pass the partially digested food mass to the top portion of the small intestines.
  • Bile from the liver and pancreatic enzymes from the pancreas continue the digestive process with fats and carbohydrates.
  • Nutrients are extracted and absorbed through the intestinal wall into the blood stream, and the nutrient-deficient food mass is passed to the large intestine as waste.
  • The blood carries the nutrients into our cells for energy, cellular repair and cellular replication.

Guidelines for Optimizing Digestion
  • Chew food thoroughly since digestion begins in the mouth. Refrain from drinking liquids during the meal since they tend to dilute digestive secretions.
  • Eat a diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables because they naturally include enzymes to help digest them. Overprocessing or excessive cooking destroys these beneficial enzymes so your system has to work harder to digest them. (See next section.)
  • Supplement your body with the hydrochloric acid and/or enzymes that may be in short supply due to choice of diet, age, and other factors.
  • Get adequate fiber to help move food through the digestive process. Aim for 25 grams if you’re a woman and 38 grams if you’re a man.
  • Massage the area of your hand between the base of your thumb and your wrist. This is a reflexology point that stimulates proper assimilation of food.
  • Cut down on your intake of beef and other red meats. Whey protein is an ideal source of protein that is easy to digest.
  • Consider a probiotic supplement like acidophilus to keep the intestinal tract in peak health. Probiotics also assist enzymes with final assimilation of food.
The Role of Supplemental Enzymes
There are three classes of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, which run our bodies; digestive enzymes, which digest our food; and food enzymes from raw foods, which start digestion. Our bodies—all our organs and tissues—are run by metabolic enzymes. These enzyme workers take proteins, fats and carbohydrates and structure them into healthy bodies, keeping everything working properly.

Nature’s plan calls for food enzymes to help with digestion instead of forcing the body’s digestive enzymes to carry the whole workload. If food enzymes do some of the work, according to the Law of Adaptive Secretion of Enzymes, the enzyme potential can allot less activity to digestive enzymes, and have more to give to the hundreds metabolic enzymes that run the body. If food enzymes did some of the work, the enzyme potential would not be facing bankruptcy, as it is now in the bodies of millions of people on the minus diet—food minus its enzymes. Our enzyme potential has a problem somewhat similar to a checking account which could become dangerously deficient if not continually replenished.

If the human organism must devote a large portion of its enzyme potential to making digestive enzymes, it spells trouble for the whole body because there is a strain on the production of metabolic enzymes and there may not be enough enzyme potential to go around. There is competition between the two classes of enzymes…The Law of Adaptive Secretion of Enzymes holds that the organism values its enzymes highly and will make no more than are needed for the job…The Law of Adaptive Secretion of Enzymes has since been confirmed by dozens of university laboratories throughout the world.

If humans take in more exogenous (outside) digestive enzymes, as nature ordained, the enzyme potential will not have to waste so much of its heritage digesting food. It can distribute more of this precious commodity to metabolic enzymes, where it rightfully belongs.

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