The body sometimes doesn’t produce enough digestive enzymes. Low level of digestive enzymes can result in a slow digestive process, leading to uncomfortable digestive complaints, especially for beginners adopting a plant-based diet. Taking digestive enzymes may be the ticket to alleviating gastrointestinal discomfort by helping the body break down larger molecules into more easily absorbed compounds for better gut health.
Digestive enzymes are compounds produced by the body that help break down the foods we eat for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. There are three types of digestive enzymes:
Amylases: Break down carbohydrates.
Lipases: Break down fat.
Proteases: Break down protein.
If the body cannot make enough digestive enzymes, food cannot be digested properly and can lead to digestive complaints. Eating plant-based foods that are high in natural digestive enzymes are needed to help improve overall digestion.
Pineapple- Contain a digestive enzyme called bromelain, which is a protease that breaks down protein into an amino acid. Bromelain aids in the digestion and absorption of protein.
Papaya-Contain a protease called papain, which studies have shown that this enzyme may assist in easing digestive complaints such as bloating and constipation.
Mango-Contain amylase that breaks down carbohydrates into sugars like maltose and glucose. As mangoes ripen, amylases become more active for easier digestion and absorption.
Miso- A staple Japanese cuisine made of fermented soybeans, salt, and a type of fungus called koji. Koji contains a variety of digestive enzymes including amylase, lactases, lipases, and proteases. Studies have shown that miso may help to reduce gastrointestinal complaints and assist the body to digest and absorb food.
Sauerkraut-A probiotic food that contains digestive enzymes to encourage better digestive health and ease digestive complains such as bloating, constipation, gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
Banana-When ripen, contain active enzymes like amylase and glucosidases that break down carbohydrates into easily absorbed sugars. Bananas contain a great source of fiber, to aid in better digestion.
It’s recommended to consume digestive enzyme supplements either 30 minutes before or as soon as you start to eat a heavy meal. It’s best to take digestive enzymes with their intended food to maximize their efficiency. For example, amylase is best considered when eating carbohydrates, or lactase when drinking or eating dairy products. Adding a probiotic supplement in the mix can help to assist in balancing your gut microbial flora for optimal digestive health.