Ah, the holidays —a time to gather with loved ones, reflect on what makes us feel grateful, and stuff our faces with rich, fatty, glorious food. (We’re pretty sure the word “piehole” has its origins in this holiday.)
No shade if you overindulge this holiday season and experience the attendant digestive issues, i.e., bloating, abdominal pain, and a massive desire to nap. But if digestive distress is an everyday occurrence for you, it’s not just a problem of taking too many servings of your mom’s famous sweet potato casserole. You may be lacking certain digestive enzymes.
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
You may remember from high school science class that enzymes are catalysts; they make things happen in the body. Digestive enzymes catalyze the breakdown of food.
Some key digestive enzymes include:
- Amylase: breaks down carbohydrates, like the stuffing inside your Thanksgiving turkey
- Protease: breaks down protein, like the turkey itself, or Tofurky® for our vegetarians friends
- Cellulase: works on the cellulose in plant fiber, found in most fruits and vegetables (roasted veggies and cranberry sauce, we’re lookin’ at you!)
- Lipase: digests fats, such as the ones in butter or gravy
- Lactase: breaks down milk sugar, present in the whipped cream on your pumpkin pie
- Alpha-galactosidase: processes the sugars in beans (including your Thanksgiving green beans) and greens that can cause gas and bloating
Where Do You Get Digestive Enzymes?
There are two kinds of digestive enzymes: endogenous (meaning your body makes them) and exogenous (meaning you consume them through the diet).
Your mouth, small intestine, and pancreas all make digestive enzymes. Your mouth produces amylase, while your small intestines churn out lactase and sucrase. It’s your pancreas that’s the real workhorse though, manufacturing amylase, lipase, and protease.
Digestive enzymes also occur naturally in plant foods. One example is bromelain, found in pineapple, which helps break down protein. (Isn’t it super-helpful of some foods to carry the tools you need to digest other foods? Nature rocks.) You’ll also find amylase, protease, cellulase, lipase, and alpha-galactosidase in plant foods.
Are You Making Enough Digestive Enzymes?
Unfortunately, not every body makes enough of these enzymes to properly digest their food. Some don’t make certain enzymes at all. Take lactase, for example. After infancy, many folks don’t produce it, especially people of color. That’s called lactose intolerance, and it means you can’t comfortably digest milk, cheese, or cream.
If your body doesn’t make one or more of the enzymes listed above (news flash: NO ONE makes alpha-galactosidase!), or if you destroy food-based enzymes through cooking, your digestion can suffer. But Flora’s got solutions—a trio of them—each tailormade for different digestive issues.
Digestive Enzymes from Flora
- Immediate Relief Enzymes supply a blend of 7 vegetarian digestive enzymes including lactase, bromelain, amylase, protease, cellulase, lipase, and alpha-galactosidase. These enzymes help you comfortably digest a variety of foods and absorb their nutrients. It’s a good choice for all-around digestive support.
- Daily Maintenance Enzymes are specially formulated to provide relief from occasional gas, bloating, heartburn, and indigestion. It has all the enzymes in Enzyme Blend (minus the lactase), but with increased doses for diets high in protein and fiber. Paleo folks, we’ve got you covered!
- Urgent Care Enzymes are the real heavy hitters on the Flora Enzyme team and is especially useful for adults aged 65+ who need extra digestive support. If beans and dairy products predictably give your digestive system grief, this is the one for you. Our advanced formula provides all the enzymes in Adult Enzyme Blend, most at higher doses, and includes lactase, which is helpful if dairy is not your friend.
Happy Thanksgiving from everyone in the Flora family to everyone in yours. And enjoy that pie, whipped cream and all!