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Enzymes ~ Can't Live Without Them!

TOTAL HEALTH Nutrition Center Supplement Facts

Oct 2016

Enzymes ~ Can’t Live Without Them!


         When we hear the word Enzymes, we think of Digestion. While many people take enzymes for digestion, most all of the enzymes we need are either produced by the body or come in the food we eat. There are metabolic (& probably hereditary) factors that cause some people to not produce the enzymes we need to properly absorb the nutrients from our food. And this is where digestive supplements, in the form of enzymes, can be beneficial for a healthy life.


          To see how digestion & digestive enzymes work, we need to start in the mouth! As much as 30% of starch digestion takes place in the mouth with the release of amylase in saliva. By chewing each bite of food at least 20x, you can ensure that starches will be broken down into simple sugars (maltase & dextrin) to be further broken down in the small intestine. Some nutrients can be absorbed directly into the blood stream through the mucous membranes of the mouth, which is another reason to chew, chew & chew again! The salivary gland also secretes Lysozyme which has an antibacterial function. A final reason to chew more is to reduce the chance for acid reflux & enjoy the weight reduction benefit of being fuller sooner. The habit of wolfing down your food can lead to reflux & over-eating!


          Next, the stomach enzymes, called gastric enzymes, are released to further break down the food. When you have a thoroughly masticated meal (small food particles), hydrochloric acid is released in the stomach to kill bacteria and further break the proteins & starch. The stomach uses mechanical action (churning) to mix & break down the food. Interestingly, the vagus nerve in the brain regulates stomach emptying, which can be slowed by any mal-digestion (lack of chewing or inadequate stomach enzymes). Many people take Betaine HCl (supplemental stomach acid) to assist their digestion.


          The most extensive action happens in the small intestine! After the stomach, the broken down food enters the 30’ long small intestine (small = diameter) where the pancreas secretes enzymes to facilitate nutrient absorption. The liver also plays a role by secreting bile to mix with & liquefy the fat. Along with fats breaking down, proteins are converted to amino acids, carbs are further converted to simple sugars, vitamins are synthesized and healthy ‘probiotic’ bacteria contributes to all of these processes. Some companies’ enteric coat their probiotics so they will pass thru the stomach without damage so they can benefit digestion in the small intestine. While protein digestion starts in the stomach, the pancreatic enzyme lipase is THE key for breaking down fats small enough to pass through the intestinal wall & into the blood. Of course, when there are extra fats consumed, they get stored in the fat cells. The same story with carbs… extra is stored in fat cells.


          What about Water? The question is to drink or not to drink during a meal? There are too many opinions, but the mid point is to simply limit the amount you drink during a meal. The best way to get extra fluids during a meal is through fruits & vegetables.


          After the nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestine, the large intestine takes over. The muscles in the large intestine push the waste products from the meal (undigested food) & old cells from the GI tract lining towards the rectum. The large intestine absorbs water & any remaining nutrients back into the system & the liquid waste is transformed into the stool. This is also a place where a sluggish system (constipation) may facilitate the re-absorption of toxins that have been eliminated by the body. There are specialized supplements that will help eliminate toxins.


          The entire digestive process is controlled by hormone & nerve regulators. Cells in the stomach lining & small intestine produce & release hormones that stimulate digestive juices & regulate appetite.


Page Two - Enzymes ~ Can’t Live Without Them!

The nerves fall into two types – extrinsic (outside) & intrinsic (inside). Extrinsic nerves connect the digestive organs to the brain or spinal cord. These nerves control the release of chemicals that cause muscle contraction (or relaxation) to aid in digestion. The intrinsic nerves are within the GI tract and are triggered when food stretches the walls of the stomach or small intestine. This can either speed up or delay the movement of food & the production of digestive juices.


          Now that the basics of digestion are established, we can look at the supplemental enzymes that can assist in breaking down & absorbing the food. The main groups are carbohydrates (amylase), fats (lipase) & proteins (protease). Enzymes may have animal origin or be completely derived from plants. Here is a list of the enzymes & what they breakdown:


  • Amylase ~ starches & glycogen
  • Alpha-Galactosidase ~ raw vegetables & beans
  • Invertase ~ Sugars like sucrose & maltose
  • Maltase ~ malt & grain sugars
  • Hemicellulase & Glycoamylase~ polysaccharides (plant fibers)
  • Cellulase, Pectinase & Phytase ~ fibers in fruits, grains, vegetables & seeds
  • Xylanase ~ soluble fiber
  • Beta-glucanase ~ beta glucan (a fiber in yeast, grain & mushrooms)


  • Protease ~ proteins
  • Peptidase (DPP-IV) ~ casein (in milk) & gluten (in grains)
  • Bromelain / Papain ~ proteins
  • Lactase ~ Lactose (milk sugar)


  • Lipase ~ Lipids & fats


          While most basic digestive enzymes contain the 3 basics, there are specialized enzymes for enhanced fat digestion, gluten, lactose, fibers, raw foods & beans (legumes). TOTAL Health stocks a variety of formulas that represent the full range of digestive needs. Our best formulas are:

  • Similase (IT) ~ a complete plant derived enzyme with extra fiber & carb ingredients
    • Also available in BV (bean/veggie) & Lipo (fats)
    • GFCF for gluten & casein (DPP-IV)
  • Plantizyme (Thorne) ~ a complete plant derived enzyme
  • BioCore (PLB) ~ a complete enzyme with some extra carb ingredients (+ beans)
  • Jarro-Zymes (Jarrow) ~ a high strength complete (basic) enzyme (+ beans)
  • Pancreatin 10X (NOW) ~ a high strength complete (basic) enzyme
  • Digestive Enzymes Ultra (PURE) - a complete enzyme with extra fiber & carb ingredients
  • Vital-Zymes (Klaire) – a complete enzyme with some extra carb ingredients (+ DPP-IV)
    • In caps, chewable & Forte (vegetarian)
  • SerenAid (Klaire) ~ vegetarian complete enzyme with high DPP-IV activity
  • Gluten/Dairy Digest (PURE) ~ DPP-IV activity w/ dairy enzymes (no fats) (205 mg combo)
  • Gluten Digest (NOW) ~ DPP-IV with carbs (no fats) (100 mg combo)
  • Glutezyme (Progressive Labs) ~ DPP-IV with fats, carbs & fibers (258 mg combo)
  • GluDaZyme (Metabolic Maint) ~ DPP-IV with fats, carbs & fibers (500 mg combo)


          Overall, enzymes are the key to life! Their action in facilitating nutrient absorption enables us to thrive and enjoy the benefit of the food we eat. Are enzymes a missing piece of your puzzle?


To order or for additional information, call Jeff at (919) 781-9994 or jeff@totalhealthnutritioncenter.com


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned above are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.