The Importance of a Healthy Gut and Digestive Enzymes

Our emotional state of mind, stress level, physical activity, and exposure to toxins are all factors that affect our health. But did you know that your gut microbiome is central to the health of your immune system, your nervous system, and digestive system?

Gut health is imperative to a healthy body, it is directly linked to energy, cognition, and a healthy immune system. An unhealthy microbiome is linked to allergies, autoimmune disorders, chronic inflammatory conditions, hormone disruption, hormone resistance, and dysfunction in cellular communication.

“Your digestive system contains twice as many neurons as your brain! This is why we call the gut the second brain, which also explains why it is linked to our emotional and mental health.”

The gut contains a wide range of good and bad bacteria. The more good bacteria you have in your gut, the stronger your immune system is. The gut utilizes these healthy bacteria to break down food and protect us from pathogens. One of the best ways to build your immune system is to have a healthy and balanced microbiome.

The body carries about 4 to 5 pounds of microbes in the gut!

An unhealthy microbiome or what we clinically call an imbalance of the microbiome, dysbiosis, is directly linked to inflammation, leaky gut and puts your health at risk of serious chronic diseases such as lupus, RA, fibromyalgia, Hashimoto's, cancer, MS, allergies, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis just to name a few.

When your gut microbes are in good health and well balanced, they keep you from having dysbiosis (microbiome imbalance) and leaky gut. We simply could not have a health crisis without a change in our microbiome (unless it was an accident) which also affects our microbiome.

What is the microbiome?

The colonies of fungi and bacteria that live in our gut make up our microbiome, we have layers of both, both of which are involved in our immunity, absorption, and elimination processes.

Our microbiome spans practically all over our system since there are different microbiomes in our entire body. For example, our skin has its own microbiome, our digestive tract has its own, our urinary tract has its own, and our ears/nose/throat another microbiome, etc. This delicate balance is one of the most often misunderstood factors in the healing process.

“The point here is to understand that the microbiome of the gut is the central microbiome, all other microbiomes in the body reflect the health of this central microbiome.”

Enzymes and their role in the health of our microbiome

There are hundreds of types of enzymes, but the focus here is on the three main groups of enzymes and how they greatly affect our microbiome.

Three main types of enzymes:

Metabolic enzymes:

These are enzymes within tissues and organs in our body that carry out the chemical reactions within these tissues and organs. For example, the heart goes through 86 enzymatic reactions every time it beats. The liver goes through 65,000 enzymatic reactions every 3 minutes. These enzymes are made by cells and microbes that live in our tissues and are produced as needed. However, in order for these enzymes to be made by the body, the body must have raw materials such as minerals and proteins.

(keep this in mind in the following paragraphs~ the digestive and food enzymes are responsible for a healthy metabolism and are our natural anti-aging mechanism)

Digestive enzymes:

Digestive enzymes are protein/mineral chemical catalysts (a chemical that causes or speeds up another chemical reaction) that cause the chemical process of digestion to occur. They trigger the breakdown of large pieces of food into small particles of nutrients that our body can easily absorb and utilize. Our pancreas produces these enzymes, as does a majority of our probiotic microbes, as long as the raw materials are present.

Food enzymes:

These enzymes are present in fresh uncooked foods, raw fruits and vegetables. Any time that one of these foods is cooked over 118 degrees, the enzymes are destroyed.

When you eat foods that are cooked, your body needs to break down these foods and since these foods have no active enzymes, the body will use up the digestive enzymes made by your pancreas. The problem here is that if this is the way you normally eat, the pancreas eventually runs out of enzymes, and in order to continue to break down these “cooked foods” or “processed foods”, your body will steal from your metabolic enzymes (mentioned above) to keep the digestion going. What this means is you age faster, inflammation sets in, and digestion slows down. Supplementing with digestive enzymes is one of the best ways to replenish and support your entire metabolism.

Digestive enzymes and food enzymes speed up the digestive process so that there is less waste accumulated in our gut. They help to inhibit the growth of pathogens in the gut while keeping inflammation down, thus keeping the microbiome healthy.

The role of probiotics in a healthy gut and microbiome balance

Basic probiotic microbes are needed by our microbiome to “reinforce” and rebuild itself. Lactobacilli are the fundamental microbes of the small intestine and bifidi are the fundamental microbes of the large intestine. When these are predominant in these respective parts of the digestive tract, the microbiome is healthy. If these aren’t the predominant inhabitants, dysbiosis ensues, followed by a leaky gut. 

As I always say, “Heal your microbiome, and your microbiome will heal you”