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Is it really worth taking digestive enzymes?....Um...Yes!

autoimmunity chronic disease digestion digestive enzymes ibs inflammation leaky gut nutrition Jun 14, 2021


There are an astonishing number of people these days complaining of digestive issues, from mild indigestion to debilitating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Many people are unaware that they have gut dysfunction and that they can reverse much of it by making some small (and big) changes.  Its very common for people to have increased intestinal permeability (aka Leaky Gut) which means the contents of your bowels more easily pass into your blood stream than being destined for the loo.

We know that a Leaky Gut has been found to be present in every case of Autoimmune Disease where it has been looked for and millions of people are diagnosed with autoimmunity. There and probably 5 times that number of people walking around feeling unwell but have yet to be properly diagnosed.

This is a huge number of people and the intention behind my blog is give you tips for the things you can do for yourself to feel better (and if you are reading this you probably have an autoimmune disease or IBS or know someone who does).

One top tip is to take Digestive Enzymes (preferably containing Betaine-HCl) to help your body break down food more completely.  There are many causes behind why your body doesn't make enough digestive enzymes and one of the biggest causes is having a Leaky Gut (so we can also say having an autoimmune disease here as well).


What do Digestive Enzymes do?

Digestive enzymes are produced along the digestive tract, including the mouth, stomach, liver, small intestine and pancreas.

They break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats into small components the body can absorb from the gut into the blood stream, where they are transported around the body to be reassembled into new structures or used for energy.

Imagine a Lego construction that you dismantle into all the different tiny pieces, all different, which you can then put together in a different way to build something new. That's what good digestion allows.

Digestive enzymes are what the body uses to break those Lego pieces apart.  When the body doesn't produce enough, what we get instead of individual pieces of Lego, are clumps which are still somewhat recognisable from how they were used before.  In the Lego analogy, there will be chunks you recognise as part of a roof, a wheel, a tree, etc.

When the gut becomes too permeable, as in the case of Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Disease, these large pieces can get through this barrier, when normally they would be too big and would end up in the toilet.

The immune system is always standing to attention when we eat, on the look out for infiltrators like bacteria and viruses so they can jump on them quick and prevent infection. Now, just as you recognise chunks of Lego pieces, the immune system recognises chunks of proteins and other structures....or it thinks it does....and it attacks them believing they are a bacteria or a virus (after all we share many of the same proteins as micro-organisms).

The longer this goes on, the worse the situation gets until the exhausted immune system starts getting really confused and starts "seeing" these fragments in your body and starts to attack those as well. Now we have an autoimmune disease.

So, we know a Leaky Gut can lead to a deficiency in digestive enzymes, so too can the aging process, nutrient deficiency, a bacterial overgrowth and even some of the "healthy" food you are eating and all of these are interlinked and quickly become a vicious circle.

Foods like grains, legumes, nuts and seeds all produce protease inhibitors for example.  Proteases are the enzymes which break down proteins and are really important when talking about autoimmunity and allergies because its these semi-broken down protein fragments that rev the immune system up the most.

All grains, legumes, nuts and seeds carry the future offspring of the plant that produced them. They are designed to fall to the ground, bed in, overwinter and then grow.  Many are dispersed far and wide by birds and animals.  They consume them, enough of them resist digestion in the animal carrier and are pooped out far away from the mother plant to start a new colony.

What helps them resist digestion, so they come out whole? They contain phytates, phytic acid and protease inhibitors. These inhibitors don't only stop the seed or grain from being digested, they also inhibit the digestion of other proteins in the vicinity.

But, they have another destructive side effect: they signal to your pancreas to shut off protease production (and all other digestive enzymes since they are made as a pack) now we aren't making enough to digest the other food in our gut.

What happens to all this semi-digested food? 

  • it can get backed up...hello constipation
  • it can get through the gut lining and trigger the immune system, inflammation and then all the symptoms you associate with your autoimmune disease
  • they ferment in the gut leading to bloating and/or diarrhea
  • they lead to nutrient and mineral deficiencies since those get stuck inside these semi-digested molecules and aren't available to us 
  • they feed the harmful bacteria in the gut and crowd out the beneficial bacteria which has a whole list of consequences which I'll save for a later blog

So the takeawayare, if you:

  1. have an autoimmune disease and associated symptoms
  2. have any chronic disease which stems from inflammation (that's virtually all of them)
  3. have IBS symptoms
  4. get reflux (which is more commonly due to too little stomach acid rather than too much)

then try supplementing with a Digestive Enzyme supplement 30 minutes before meals.  This is going to make it much easier to dismantle your Lego meal and reduce symptoms, not just in your gut but throughout your body.

You can also:

  1. try cutting out all grains, legumes, nuts and seeds for 2 weeks and see if that makes a difference, give your gut time to heal before re-introducing them one by one
  2. eat foods naturally high in digestive enzymes such as pineapple, papaya and avocado
  3. feast your eyes on your meal - get those anticipatory tummy rumbles going which kick starts enzyme production in readiness for the meal that's coming
  4. chew your food - enzymes begin their job in the mouth and its an important first step BEFORE the food hits the stomach acid.  It's fashionable to drink our meals as "healthy" smoothies and shakes...but they are only healthy if they can be absorbed and
  5. if you are attached to that morning smoothie, be sure to slosh each mouthful around the mouth before swallowing so it gets mixed with the enzyme-containing saliva

Nearly 2,500 years ago, the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine said “all disease begins in the gut”.  Modern medicine, in its pursuit of novel and sophisticated cures, has lost sight of this but fortunately some practitioners, such as Functional Medicine doctors, nutritionists and health coaches always start with the gut.

I recommend Terrazyme by doTERRA and you can search for it using my link here: Terrazyme Digestive Enzymes (not available in all markets).

Whist you are in there looking around, check out Zengest essential oil blend. Its my absolute go-to for all my digestive symptoms whilst I am healing those root causes and its safe for all the family when used appropriately. One drop is all your need since a little goes a long way.

Finally, if you are ready to change the future and tackle your autoimmune disease through diet, managing stress and releasing limiting beliefs you hold about your health and your life, then consider joining my next 3 month group coaching program.  Availability is limited and enrolment is now open for the next intake - we start on July 17th 2021.

Read more about the program here and do reply to this email if you would like to chat further.

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