Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Digestive Enzymes and Healthy Aging

In this series of blogs based on my new book: "Vibrant Midlife Aging and Wellness" I introduced the "5 keys to healthy aging."

These 5 key health areas need to be optimized if we want to slow the aging process and prevent age-related diseases.

In my last post I discussed that our gut is the foundation of our health, and optimizing its functioning is vital to healthy aging.

Today, I want to discus the importance of having sufficient pancreatic enzymes so that we can adequately digest our foods.

Our small intestine uses pancreatic enzymes  to speed the breakdown of protein, carbs and fats so they can be absorbed through the intestinal lining.
However, aging, stress, and a poor diet can reduce our enzyme production. See chart below.
 Signs of Low Levels of Pancreatic Enzymes

Fatigue, belching, indigestion excessive fullness 1-3 hours after eating
Cramping, pain, soreness on left side under rib cage
Gas or bloating 1-4 hours after eating.
Constipation or diarrhea, fiber causing constipation
Stool containing undigested food, or foul smelling, greasy, mucus-like, and poorly formed
The three main categories of pancreatic enzyme are:
  • amylase, for carbohydrate breakdown
  • proteases that cleave proteins
  • lipases that decompose fats
The pancreas secretes these enzymes into the small intestine, but a lack of HCl (see previous post) or depleted beneficial bacteria will lead to a deficiency of digestive enzymes.

You will have the most trouble digesting fats when suffering from an enzyme deficiency and you will have difficulty absorbing the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. 

Low pancreatic enzymes can also contribute to food allergies and irritable bowel syndrome.

Pancreatic Enzyme Support

You can support your pancreatic functioning by eating mineral rich, high fiber foods like leafy greens, seaweed, beans, and avocados.  

Raw foods, and bitter foods like parsley, arugula, and dandelion greens are also recommended.

Fermented vegetables are also high in natural enzymes created by the friendly bacteria, which will support your pancreas.

Additionally, you will need to limit refined carbs (white rice/ bread/crackers/pasta) and sugars.

Stress management is also essential for optimal enzyme production.

*If you experience any of the above symptoms of low pancreatic enzyme production- you can compensate, and relieve your symptoms by taking:
          Take 350-1,000 mg. before or with each meal.
  • Betaine HCL is also recommended for low stomach acidity. (See previous post)
  • Taking a high quality mineral supplement can also support your enzyme production.
  • It also might be wise to perform pancreatic enzyme lab testing
Well, I hope that this helps you to take your health to the next level, as I mentioned earlier-our gut is the foundation of our health, and is the key to vibrant aging.

My next post will be discussing the importance of beneficial bacteria. It's been suggested that probiotics are the new frontier in health, and are being widely studied for disease prevention, treatment, and overall health maintenance.

To Your Vibrant Health,

         Disclaimer:  The information provided in this blog is intended for informational purposes, and is not meant to substitute or conflict with the advice from your physician. It is also not meant for pregnant or nursing women. Do not use this information for diagnosis or treatment of any health problems. Please consult with your physician before attempting any practices in this blog.  Information in this blog is general and to the best of my knowledge is true and complete, and is offered with no guarantees on the part of the author. The author disclaims all liability in connection with the use of this blog.
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  1. This is a detailed and useful post! Thank you for sharing this information!

    1. Hi Justine,
      Thanks for your comment . I'm glad that you found this info useful. Don't forget to look at my past posts on gut health because when one area of the GI tract is poorly functioning, usually other areas are also impaired. it's all connected!