The Lowdown on Digestive Enzymes and Gluten
What are digestive enzymes?
Enzymes are simple proteins that are found throughout the body, where they act as catalysts to regulate various biological reactions. They are an essential part of any chemical reactions that take place in the body, such as the repair process of tissues and activities in the brain. More specifically, the digestive process is aided by enzymes that work to break down your food into nutrients that can be absorbed by the body and to eliminate peptides that may be toxic.
How do they work?
Food must be broken down in order to be utilised by the body- these smaller pieces can be amino acids, fatty acids and cholesterol, sugars, vitamins, minerals and a variety of other compounds. Mainly produced by the pancreas and small intestine, digestive enzymes are highly selective. They assist the break down of food into smaller fragments in the digestive tract, which are then absorbed through the intestinal walls, ready to be used by the body.
What are digestive enzyme supplements?
Although the body produces its own enzymes, sometimes there may not be enough to completely break down certain proteins. The ability of the body to effectively digest food affects many facets of your health, so it is important to maintain this ability as well as possible. As written by Moloughney, for some people, the ‘body’s natural ability to produce enzymes starts declining as early as age 25… so given their importance to many of the body’s functions, supplementation is beneficial’ (2017, p.58). Enzyme supplements can come from the organs of animals, or from plants such as papaya, and are intended to optimise the digestive process and the absorption of nutrients so that digestive problems can be avoided.
Digestive Enzymes and Gluten Sensitivity
What do digestive enzymes have to do with the inability to absorb gluten? Gluten is a complex protein, so any deficiency in the digestive enzymes that work on gluten can result in an improper break down. In such cases, certain sections (peptides) of gluten that are toxic to people with gluten sensitivity will not be broken down, and therefore cause symptoms of gluten sensitivity such as nausea, bloating and headaches. It has been demonstrated that severe gluten sensitivities exist outside of coeliac disease, so digestive enzymes supplements can be utilised by anyone on the spectrum of sensitivity to improve their digestive health and to ensure that any toxic peptides are adequately broken down. As the gluten-free diet can be fraught with error and cross-contamination, it has been recognised that a digestive enzyme supplement that can offset the harmful effects of inadvertently digested gluten would be beneficial. Subsequent advances in enzyme therapy culminated in the discovery of Caricain, a natural enzyme found in the skin of the papaya plant. Able to specifically target the fractions of gluten peptides that induce an immune response, Caricain is the active ingredient of GluteGuard, a digestive enzyme supplement that not only alleviates the debilitating symptoms of gluten intolerance, but also protects against the potential risk of inadvertent gluten ingestion. GluteGuard’s unique combination of the right enzyme- the toxic gluten peptide targeting Caricain- and the right delivery method- its enteric coating- is the reason why it is so much more effective at preventing the symptoms of gluten sensitivity than other digestive enzyme supplements on the market.
Moloughney, S 2017, ‘Enzymes: Essential to Wellness’, Nutraceuticals World, vol. 20, no. Part 1, pp. 58-62.
Cornell, H & Stelmasiak, T, ‘Enzyme Therapy for Coeliac Disease: Is It Ready for Prime Time’, Coeliac Disease- From Pathophysiology to Advanced Therapies, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
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