What are digestive enzymes?
From the first bite we take, digestive enzymes begin their
work of breaking down our food and transporting nutrients
and toxins. Throughout the entire digestive process, our systems
simply could not function without these amazing proteins.
Digestive enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts. This
means they can cause change and reactions internally without
changing or destroying themselves. Over 3000 enzymes have
been identified, falling into two categories - metabolic
and digestive. Each type of enzyme is responsible for performing
a different task.
Here are just a few of the many jobs that enzymes perform:
- Transport nutrients
- Aid digestion
- Transport toxins
- Rebuild tissue
- Purify blood
- Deliver hormones
- Promote homeostasis
With enzymes responsible for so many essential tasks, it's
easy to see how a deficiency can lead to imbalance and cause
noticeable health problems. Dr. Earl Mindell states, "A
deficiency, shortage, or even the absence of one single enzyme
can mean the difference between sickness and health."
A deficiency in digestive enzymes can cause a host of problems,
including increased inflammation and stress on the immune
system, which in turn may be reflected in the flare-up of
numerous skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, and
even psoriasis. Keeping enzyme levels where they need to be
can increase overall wellness, often reflected in healthier
Digestive enzymes - essential for good health!
As soon as we take a bite of food, enzymes in our saliva
immediately start breaking down that food. From there, the
chewed and partially digested food travels down the esophagus
and into the stomach, where an enzyme called pepsin,
which is manufactured in the stomach, combines with hydrochloric
acid to break food down even further. In the small intestine
the now partially digested food gets inundated with still
more enzymes. The enzymes in the small intestine are mostly
manufactured in the pancreas, which produces 22 different
kinds of enzymes to aid in digestion. During the process of
breaking down food, the different types of enzymes work to
separate different components of food such as proteins, carbohydrates,
fats, and nutrients so that they can be utilized.
Without enzymes, we simply could not effectively process
the foods we eat. Current research indicates that people who
are intolerant of certain foods such as dairy may be deficient
in the enzymes needed to break them down. Many enzymes are
named according to the substances that they break down. For
example, lipase is an enzyme that breaks down lipids or fats. Here is a short list of a few important digestive
enzymes and their main purposes.
Lipase - Lipase is actually the
term for a number of different lipid-cleaving enzymes
found throughout the body. This group contains pancreatic
lipase, gastric lipase, and endothelial lipase, among
others. Not only do lipase enzymes break down fats, but
they are also involved in the inflammatory response of
cells and metabolism. Lipase enzymes are especially important
for skin health; after the fat molecules are split, some
of their subcomponents are used to nourish the skin.
Amylase - This group of enzymes
is responsible for breaking down starches. Amylase enzymes
are very prevalent in saliva, where they break starch
molecules into maltose and dextrin. Salivary amylase is
also known as ptyalin. Calcium is essential for
these enzymes to function; without it they are unable
to do their jobs.
Protease - Proteins are broken
down into amino acids by protease enzymes. Not only do
these enzymes aid in digestion, but they also play an
important role in blood clotting. Vitamin B12 cannot be
absorbed unless protein-splitting enzymes such as protease
separate it from carrier molecules.
Pepsin - Pepsin is produced in
the stomach, and in conjunction with hydrochloric acid
breaks the bonds between certain amino acids, making them
easier for the body to absorb.
When enzyme levels are insufficient, a host of problems may
arise. Since enzymes are so important for good digestion,
the most common signs of enzyme deficiency are seen in the
digestive system. If food is not properly broken down during
the digestive process, large masses of food may enter the
intestines. When this happens, the food can putrefy in the
gut and cause bloating, gas, problems with bowel movements,
and general discomfort. Large particles of food may enter
the blood stream and trigger the immune system to attack.
In addition to suffering intestinal distress and an immune
system response, it is most likely that the body has been
unable to process valuable nutrients and vitamins during the
digestive process. The entire system can become compromised,
leading to systemic inflammation which in turn may cause skin
conditions like psoriasis to worsen. Restoring intestinal
health is very important in achieving improved skin health.
Enzyme depletion can negatively affect the skin in a number
of ways. As previously mentioned, a properly functioning digestive
system is very important to skin health, this being perhaps
the most obvious culprit for enzyme deficiency-related skin
problems. However, when you look at the enzymes themselves
and how they work within our bodies, further problems relating
to skin health can become apparent. A vicious cycle begins
- food is not properly digested, vitamins and minerals
are not absorbed, inflammation increases, and our bodies simply
cannot keep up. Oftentimes the internal stress is reflected
externally with flare-ups of skin conditions.
How do enzyme levels become depleted?
Digestive enzymes enter the system a number of ways. Our
bodies manufacture the majority of enzymes in the salivary
glands, gallbladder and pancreas. Many foods we eat,
especially raw fruits and vegetables, also contain valuable
enzymes. Unfortunately, when foods are heated over 118°
F, most of the enzymes present in them are deactivated. Enzymes
can also become depleted as we age; over time, our ability
to produce enzymes drastically decreases. An October 2000
article in Vegetarian Times points out that "The
amount of amylase present in the average 25-year-old's
saliva is 30 times more abundant than in a 65-year-old's."
Another factor contributing to the decline of enzymes in the
system is poor dietary choices. When the organs in our body
are stressed or overloaded with toxins, they may produce fewer
enzymes. Something as simple as not drinking enough water
and becoming dehydrated can drastically affect the number
of enzymes within our mouths. Other factors that can cause
a reduction in enzyme production include stress, heredity,
drugs, or infections. People with Candida (yeast)
may especially be at risk for a condition known as pancreatic
insufficiency, which also can lead to enzyme deficiency. Candida can be especially devastating to those with skin conditions
like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.
Increase your enzyme levels!
Enzyme levels can be reinvigorated a number of ways. One
very easy way to help enzymes do their jobs more effectively
is to simply chew your food slowly and thoroughly. If
you consume lots of fried foods, sugars, alcohol, simple carbohydrates,
and caffeine, changing your diet may bring vast improvement
to how you look and feel. Enzymes do not live in over-processed
foods, or even in foods that have been cooked. To help your
system overall, consider including more fresh raw fruits and
vegetables, as well as whole grains in your diet. It is also
recommended that you drink at least eight glasses of water
per day, to keep you hydrated as well as to encourage proper
An enzyme supplement may also be a wise addition to your
daily regimen. Supplements are an easy way to boost your enzyme
levels. Many quality supplements like DermaEssentials include
digestive enzymes as well as other vitamins and minerals.
You are then able to increase enzyme levels and replenish
vitamin and mineral stores that may have been depleted as
well. Be sure to choose one that contains quality pharmaceutical-grade
ingredients; lesser grades simply may not work as well.
To read more about the excellent base of support we offer,
visit the DermaEssentials™ page. You can try DermaHarmony products risk-free for 37 days.
If you are not satisfied with your purchase for any reason,
simply return the empty bottles for a full refund of the product
price (less shipping and handling), no questions asked. If
you would like to speak with one of our Digestive/Skin Health
Specialists, call 1-800-827-3730.
Read on for the answers you seek, then give us a call if
you would like additional guidance.
skin begins with your diet! You may
be surprised to learn that what you eat can dramatically affect
the condition of your skin. Perhaps you remember a friend
or family member warning you about chocolate and French fries
causing acne back in high-school, and dismissed it as myth.
In fact, they weren't that far off-base with their warnings!
D-3 and the skin. Although there is currently
no proven cure for psoriasis, recent research indicates there
are numerous health benefits to vitamin D supplementation,
supporting relief from many inflammatory ailments and medical
conditions. We believe this includes psoriasis!
If you were able to gather up and weigh the bacteria in your
digestive system, researchers estimate the total would be
about four pounds! Under ideal circumstances, friendly microorganisms
line our intestines and perform many functions that aid in
digestion, benefitting the overall health of the body.
How We Help
At DermaHarmony, our goals are to educate chronic skin care suffers about dermatology, share what contributes to health and wellness, and support our readers in any way we can. Our programs promote healthy skin with nutritional supplements, topical treatments and dietary guidance. Learn more about our programs or call us toll-free at 1-800-827-3730. Our Support Desk is open 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday.
Our skin assessment is designed to help us get a better understanding of your symptoms and to make diet and lifestyle recommendations for you. It is simple, free, takes just five minutes to complete. Take our skin assessment.
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||Radiant skin begins with your diet!
You may be surprised to learn that what you eat can dramatically affect the condition of your skin. Perhaps you remember a friend or family member warning you about chocolate or french fries causing acne back in high school, and dismissed it as myth. In fact, they weren't that far off-base with their warnings!
||Vitamin D-3 and the Skin
Although there is currently no proven cure for psoriasis, recent research indicates there are numerous health benefits to vitamin D supplementation, supporting relief from many inflammatory ailments and medical conditions. We believe this includes psoriasis!
If you were able to gather up all the bacteria in your digestive system, researchers estimate the total would weigh about four pounds! Under ideal circumstances these bacteria live in our intestines, quietly performing many functions that aid in digestion and benefit the overall health of the body.
Elimination Diet for Skin Conditions
There is something that you do every day that can create problems for your skin. To you, your skin problem may be called psoriasis, eczema, rosacea or acne, but to your skin it is an inflammatory reaction, and the source of that inflammation may very likely be the foods that you are putting in your mouth, into your digestive system.
Diet, Insulin, and Your Skin
Acne is commonly thought of as a teenage affliction, compounding for young sufferers the often self-conscious awkwardness of adolescence with the embarrassment of unattractive skin eruptions. When acne persists into later stages of life, or shows up unexpectedly in older adults, the often unsightly rash can be no less socially distracting and awkward.
A probiotic is a living microorganism which, when administered in sufficient amounts, confers a health benefit to its host. Two of the most common probiotics, Lactobacillus acidophilus and the group known as bifidobacteria, are commonly found in the gut and assist the body with a number of functions. The digestive system is inhabited by billions of these bacteria, collectively referred to as intestinal microflora.
Digestive Enzymes—Reference Documents and Further Reading
K. Kastelein, Editor-in-chief & M. Smith, Nurse Practitioner
Date of Publication: 12/20/2006