Your mum told you, you are what you eat. I’m telling you, you are what you eat, digest and absorb. The health of your digestive tract is one of, if not the most important aspect of your fat loss or muscle gain goals. Are you bloated? Tired? Stuck holding onto belly fat no matter what you do?
Let me give you a case study:
Jane is a 30 year old with a stressful job in the city and she has always had issues with bloating. Jane has her breakfast at her desk at 9am she then feels tired and has a coffee to pick her up. At lunch she goes to get a sandwich or buys some other sort of pre prepared meal but choses what she thinks is the healthy option. At 3pm her energy is crashing and she’s bloated and has something sweet to bring her back up again. After work she gets the train home feeling rather uncomfortable, gassy and bloated. When she gets home she has her usual dinner and goes to the gym and has low energy or sits on the sofa in front of the TV feeling very tired. The next morning she wakes up with a pretty flat stomach to start all over again.
If you can identify with this in any way I want you to ask yourself these three questions.
- Am I digesting my food properly?
- Am I absorbing properly?
- Am I eliminating properly?
Now there may be many things going on here, especially if you are gaining weight. But if you have food staying in your stomach or sluggishly moving through your intestines fermenting and giving off gas (bloating), and assuming you are drinking a decent amount of water (see my article on hydration) and getting enough fibre, both of which help the food transit through your intestines then I think it’s safe to say your digestion is not doing what it should.
Digestive enzymes do exactly what you would expect them to, they attack the food and break down the chemical bonds of the nutrients; breaking protein polypeptides into dipeptides and single peptides, sugary polysaccharides into disaccharides and monosaccharides and fats into single fatty acids so that they can all be easily absorbed through the small intestine wall.
One of the most likely reasons for indigestion and the problems outlined above is that your body is not producing enough enzymes or acid to digest your food. This means partially digested foods hangs around in your small intestine feeding the bacteria that live there. These bacteria produce gas resulting in bloating, flatulence and abdominal discomfort. Also since the food is feeding the bacteria instead of your body you can actually feel worse after a meal as the bacteria give off toxins which can affect your energy levels, mood and even your behaviour. The cells in the pancreas depend on vitamins and minerals (like zinc), from food to produce digestive enzymes but if you are not properly digesting food you can see how you’re not getting the nutrients and this quickly becomes a downward spiral.
My first recommendation for you if you suffer from indigestion is to supplement meals with a full spectrum digestive enzyme. One that at least contains:
Amylase – digests carbohydrates
Protease – digests protein
Lipase – digests fat
Others that may be beneficial are:
Papain – digests protein
Bromelain – digests protein & fat
Pancreatin – digests protein, fat and carbs
Ox bile extract – digests fat
Lactase – digests lactose (milk sugar)
Also you can improve your digestion by eating enzyme rich foods please see the table below.
If your body is digesting and absorbing food efficiently again you will be able to use those nutrients to produce your own enzymes and should be able to reduce and eventually stop the intake of digestive enzyme supplements.