Sunday, May 31, 2009
Should I Take Digestive Enzymes?
The Final Day of Our “One Month Raw Food Cleanse”
Congratulations to all of you who finished our “one month raw food cleanse”. If you didn’t get to do it in May, start it in June. It’s easier to do when the weather is warmer. I’m now coming off my cleanse and feel great. I lost 2 ½ pounds this month and 2 pounds last month when I was transitioning. I feel light and energetic and was able to get off of my allergy medication. Actually, I don’t take any medications at all! Today I will complete the month with a liquid diet full of smoothies, juice and some cooked vegetable broth. For the rest of the spring and summer, I will stay 50% to 75% raw starting each day with a raw smoothie or breakfast salad and having a nice big salad or one of the many raw recipes I’ve posted for lunch. I’ll save my cooked meal for the evening. I’ll continue to eat raw snacks of nuts, fruit, raw crackers, and veggie slices and of course, chia pudding will remain my absolute favorite dessert!
When eating this type of diet, there’s not much worry about digestive enzymes since raw food is full of its own enzymes which aid in digestion. When food is cooked, however, these enzymes are destroyed and the body must do all the heavy lifting in order to provide sufficient enzymes to digest your meal. To make matters worse, the ability to do this significantly diminishes as we age. If we don’t have enough enzymes for digestion, we cannot absorb the nutrients in the food we eat and we lack the energy to do the things we love to do. Besides lacking energy, we may also experience gas, heartburn, bloating and constipation. We may even develop headaches, allergies, ulcers and more. These conditions result from the partially digested foods that remain in your intestines that will begin to decay and create toxins.
Even when eating a raw food meal, especially if it’s made with nuts and is high in fat, it’s good to take a digestive enzyme just to be sure your body is getting the most out of the meal.
Different types of digestive enzymes
• Amylase—breaks down carbohydrates
• Protease—breaks down proteins
• Lipase—breaks down fats
• Lactase—breaks down milk sugar
Selecting a digestive enzyme supplement
Many digestive enzyme supplements have a broad spectrum of the above listed enzymes and more. Others are tailored to a specific food type. Many people think it’s just easier to just take a comprehensive product that addresses all types of food. You may want to discuss this with your holistic health practitioner, especially if you have a particular medical condition. I take a broad spectrum one before each meal.
Some digestive enzymes are derived from plant and microbial sources and others come from animals. Vegans and vegetarians should check the label for the source of the product. Some manufacturers claim that the plant and microbial enzymes work more effectively in the pH and temperature ranges of the body.
Unlike some supplements that measure strength by their weight, the strength of a digestive enzyme is measured by its “activity”. This activity level is listed on the bottle as FCC units or “Food Chemical Codex units”. If it only has weights such as milligrams, you will not be assured of any enzymatic activity at all. A high FCC number allows your food to be digested quickly so there is less chance that your food will be absorbed in a partially broken down state.
My husband and I have made many changes to improve our diet over the past 20 years but I think we both agree that taking a digestive enzyme before each meal is one of the best things we’ve done. Our dining table always has a grinder for Himalayan rock salt and whole pepper corns and a bottle of digestive enzymes. If you have any sort of digestive problems, fatigue, unexplained headaches or allergies, digestive enzyme supplements may be something you should consider.