While eating a bowl of paw paw (papaya) it got me thinking of the benefits of digestive enzymes for our health.

Papaya on banana leaf

Paw paw contains an enzyme called papain. Papain helps to break down larger proteins into smaller proteins. Because of this, papain enhances proper digestive processes and assists in increasing nutrient absorption. Our digestive system absorbs nutrients, not food. Therefore, we need digestive enzymes to assist with the process of breaking down our food into absorbable amino acids (from protein), fatty acids and cholesterol (from fats) and simple sugars (from carbohydrates), along with various vitamins and minerals.

Digestive enzymes comprise of three main types:

Proteases – break down protein into small peptides and amino acids

Lipases – break down fat into 3 fatty acids and a glycerol molecule

Amylases – break down carbohydrates into simple sugars

If the body cannot produce enough digestive enzymes, then food molecules cannot be properly broken down and digested properly into the small intestine, leading to a range of digestive disorders and possible food intolerances as a result.

Foods containing natural and effective digestive enzymes include: paw paw, pineapples, mangoes, honey, bananas, avocados, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kiwi fruit and ginger.

Tropical fruit display

How do I know if my diet is lacking digestive enzymes?

Symptoms that may indicate a lack of digestive enzymes can include:

  • Bloating or stomach pain after meals
  • Undigested food in your stool
  • Stools that ‘float’
  • Oily stools (a sign of undigested fat)
  • Nausea, diarrhoea

If you feel this may be relevant for you, try increasing your diet to include a range of digestive enzyme rich foods listed above. If symptoms improve then you know you are on the right track, if not, then you may need to seek further testing to check the function of your digestive process and what could be causing the symptoms.

There are several options for this testing which can help determine if digestive enzymes are the issue or if there is another cause for your symptoms.

For further information regarding digestion issues or any other health issue, you can contact me for a complimentary consultation here.