Health & Fitness

Digestive enzyme supplements: a decoder

The right digestive enzyme supplements can help with symptoms like bloating and heartburn and even help in weight loss in some cases, it's important to understand and address any underlying health issues.

Feeling bloated, gassy; experiencing acid reflux or a rock-like feeling of tightness in your stomach after eating; struggling with weight loss? It could be because of a lack of digestive enzymes in your body which could be creating an imbalance in your gut bacteria, messing up your entire system and making way for health hiccups.

Digestive enzymes are naturally occurring substances in our body that help us to digest food. The enzymes – including amylase, maltase, lactase, lipase, sucrase, proteases – are secreted by the inner lining of our stomach, the pancreas, and the small intestines. Their job is to break down complex molecules of protein, carbohydrates, and fats that we eat into smaller molecules that are easily absorbed by our bloodstream. Essentially, they are the difference between good and bad digestion.

Who needs digestive enzyme supplements and why?

“With stress, urban lifestyles, erratic sleep and mealtimes, there is a dip in the natural production of these secretions, commonly observed as we grow into our 30s,” says nutritionist and lifestyle educator Karishma Chawla. “There is often a depletion in the hydrochloric acid and bile salts that impact the absorption of nutrients inside our body. This is why you experience nutrient deficiencies even though you might be eating healthy, nutritionally balanced meals.” The supplements then come to the rescue, to make up for this deficit of naturally occurring enzymes.

Says Dr Pratik Tibdewal, consultant gastroenterologist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road, Mumbai: “The enzymes in supplements can offer a targeted solution for individuals facing challenges with digestion. Today, people tend to eat highly processed foods that lack the naturally occurring enzymes found in whole foods. This deficiency puts added strain on the body’s enzyme production capacity, leading to incomplete digestion and potential nutrient deficiencies. Personalized enzyme supplementation allows people to tailor their intake to specific needs or sensitivities, providing an effective way to address individualized digestive concerns beyond what the body’s enzymes may be capable of handling alone.”

Shilpi Madan for MoneyControl.com

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