What are enzymes, exactly?If you remember the word “enzyme” from your high school biology class, but you can’t quite remember what an enzyme is, you’re not alone. Simply put, an enzyme is a substance that sets off a reaction. Enzymes are like spark plugs to your engine: without them, you’re not going anywhere. In fact, enzymes are needed to set in motion over 5,000 reactions in the body. There are lots of different kinds of enzymes in the body. Digestive enzymes help break down the foods you eat into their smallest particles.
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When things go wrongNot everyone has all the enzymes they need for optimal digestion. Here’s why:
- As we get older, our ability to produce digestive enzymes diminishes.
- Some folks never produce certain enzymes. For example, people who are lactose intolerant lack the enzyme needed to digest dairy products.
- Stress, caffeine, alcohol, and pregnancy can all decrease enzyme production.
- Some diets, such as high-protein or high-fiber diets, can present digestive challenges without the right enzymes.
What to expect when you take digestive enzymes
- You’ll digest your food better and feel more comfortable.
- You’ll absorb more nutrients from your food.
- You may be satisfied with less food.
- You may be more regular.
- You may have more energy.