Aging is an inescapable process we all will have to pass through. With it come some physical and emotional changes. One of these changes, in later life, has to do with the level of digestive enzymes, which are needed for specific functions as food passes along the digestive tract. Fall in these enzymes leads to decreased efficiency of digestion as people get older causing health issues.
In simple words, enzymes are catalysts needed for execution of diverse processes in the body. They are a class of proteins that assist in catalyzing functions and facilitating a variety of biological processes, ranging from nutrient circulation to waste elimination and prevention of infection. Over 3,000 of these have already been identified and certain experts are saying about 50,000 more have yet to be identified. Digestive enzymes account for one of the three main categories of enzymes. The other two are metabolic and food-based enzymes.
Enzymes cut down the level of energy required for a reaction to take place. They are not used up in a reaction as they only facilitate, or speed up, such. It must be noted though that enzymes get assistance from other elements, including vitamins and minerals, to perform their roles. These other elements are called coenzymes, one of which is the Q10 present in the mitochondria.
Digestion describes a process by which the food taken in is broken down for extraction of essential nutrients needed by the body. Unlike what many people might think, digestion does not commence only when food has reached the stomach. It is said to start from the moment the senses perceive the presence of a tasty food, with the enzymes amylase and lipase released into the mouth in anticipation of consumption. Digestive enzymes are there every step of the way from the time food gets in your mouth until it reaches the end point of the digestive tract.
As previously stated, there are several thousands of enzymes in the body. The most important, or well-known, ones include:
In addition to the digestive enzymes listed above, there is also pepsin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, bromelain and pancreatin to name a few more. Each of these different enzymes have specific role it performs. For example, amylase breaks down complex sugars and carbohydrates into glycogen and dextrin, while lactase transforms lactose into glucose and galactose for use by the body. Lipase helps to convert triglycerides into fatty acids as well as promote digestion and absorption of nutrients in the intestines.
Now, you may be eating the best of food money can buy, but know such may offer little or no benefits unless it is properly digested. This is why it is essential to ensure you have optimal amount of digestive enzymes in your body to facilitate this. Well, you may have heard that you are what you eat. But as you can see, that saying is only partly true. How much of what you eat that is effectively digested and absorbed will determine who you are, health wise.
The quality of diet maintained by many in the West is not helpful much, which explains why a whopping 80 percent of deaths in America are supposedly diet-related. Heavily-cooked, processed and sugary foods have become the order of the day. Most enzyme actions are halted when food is heated above 116 degrees (Fahrenheit). Such food when eaten takes a heavy toll on the body as it is forced to tap into building materials meant for metabolic enzyme production to deal with the food needing to be digested. This could lead to serious health implications.
Researchers have shown that the ability of the body to produce enzymes starts to slump as early as age 20. It has been observed that your enzyme level could be down by about 25 percent by age 40, compared to the peak level it was when you were still very young. The amount would have become even more significantly lower by the time you attain the age of 60 or 70. One reason why this happens is that hypochloric acid production drops with aging. Hypochloric acid is essential for stimulating digestive enzymes in the stomach.
The consequence of low enzyme levels is quite obvious: foods are not properly digested. This makes it hard for the body to make use of all the nutrients contained in the rich foods you might consume. And when your body is not getting adequate amount of nutrients, malnutrition sets in. This may explain why the health of some older people seems to suddenly take a dive for the worse. Among the numerous health issues that may arise in the presence of insufficient digestive enzymes are colds, flu, liver disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, weak immunity, depression and fibromyalgia. Essentially, enzyme insufficiency could actually speed up the aging process.
In the light of the issues that could arise with insufficient digestive enzymes, conscious efforts need to be made to supplement the natural levels in the body. This is especially more advisable for elderly individuals. Here are a few suggestions:
If you ever decide to use a digestive enzyme supplement, it helps to be sure such contains different forms of enzymes, especially the primary ones, and should ideally be all-natural. It will also be a good idea to have a chat with your doctor before using any supplement as some digestive enzymes may interact with certain medications – for example, the enzyme papain and the drug warfarin.
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