When we eat, our bodies produce enzymes to break down what we eat. However, as we age, our enzyme production begins to decline.
Enzymes are needed to avoid and reduce inflammation in the body. When foods are not broken down fully, large particles of food find their way into corners of our bodies where they shouldn’t be. This is one of the reasons we develop food sensitivities. The immune system sees these large particles that it doesn’t recognize, and attacks them.
Some choose to supplement enzymes with their meals to help break down their food. While this is still argued, some healthcare specialists believe that simply supplementing enzymes may teach your body that there is no need to produce enzymes. Your body sees that the enzymes will come from elsewhere, so natural enzyme production declines with time.
Prepare your food
Taking time to prepare your meals actually helps your body produce enzymes, believe it or not. Have you ever noticed that when it smells like delicious food, you become hungry? That’s because you send signals to your body that food is coming.
This is exactly what preparing your meals just before eating them does. Since we’re all so busy and don’t have time to prepare meals 3 times a day, enzyme production tends to be less than optimal.
Chewing mechanically breaks down what we eat. When we don’t completely chew our food, our bodies needs to produce more enzymes to break food down properly. Additionally, there are enzymes in saliva that are meant to break down starchy carbohydrates. By chewing less, these enzymes don’t get to do their job.
Take smaller bites of food to tempt yourself less to swallow before you’re done chewing. Your food should be liquefied before your swallow.
Eat (some) raw foods
Remember the raw food trend? While I don’t necessarily think it’s the right diet for most people, it has an important merit. Raw foods are rich in enzymes. These enzymes are different from the ones your body produces. They are specific to the foods in which they are found. This means that they will help you break down those particular foods and get as many nutrients as possible from those foods.
But don’t worry. I’m not suggesting that you should opt for a raw diet. Instead, I recommend making an effort to include raw foods in your meals.
Eat nutrient dense foods
Our bodies require nutrients to produce enzymes. Boxed and canned foods no longer have their natural enzymes. These foods require an extra amount of enzymes to be broken down. Nutrient dense foods, on the other hand, provide the body with the materials needed for enzyme production.
Boost enzyme production in the stomach
Some of the enzymes that digest proteins are produced by the stomach cells. Stomach acid (or hydrochloric acid) “tickles” the cells in the stomach wall, which encourages these cells to produce the enzymes. However, with age and because of stress, stomach acid production declines with age (contrary to popular belief!).
Most people with acid reflux actually produce too little stomach acid. The burn experienced is the result of food which takes too long to digest and ferments in the stomach. To increase enzyme production, a teaspoon of raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a few ounces of water 15 minutes before a meal can help.
I know that there’s a possibility that you cringed at this suggestion. But hear me out! Bitter foods, like dark leafy green vegetables (which are nutrient dense, by the way!), actually help stimulate the natural production of enzymes by pretty much every organ involved in digestion. This is especially important for those who have troubled livers or lack a gallbladder.
The gallbladder usually holds bile produced by the liver until there is a need for it in the digestive system (such as when you consume fats). Without a gallbladder, bile spills into the intestines constantly, like a dripping faucet. This means that there may not be enough bile to go around when it’s actually needed. Bitters helps stimulate the production of bile with meals.