Fitness: Enzymes help keep digestion on track

<p>Carla Linder-Mayer, owner Reality Fitness in Naperville</p>

Carla Linder-Mayer, owner Reality Fitness in Naperville

Whether you believe health reform is good or bad, right or wrong, there is one thing for sure. As Americans, we are all going to have to take more personal responsibility for our own health. That means understanding the needs of our bodies a little better.

A healthy digestive system is at the center of a healthy body. So, how do we make sure we have a healthy gut to ensure a healthy digestive and immune system? Enzymes.

Up until a few years ago, I had never even heard of enzymes except in commercials about the added cleaning benefits of enzymes in our detergent. Enzymes are designed by nature to break down protein, carbohydrates, fats and cellulose. Today, almost all of our cleaning products contain enzymes, which help break down the stains in our clothing to produce a clean, stain-free product.

That same concept is naturally used in our bodies. Enzymes are needed to clean out our gut by breaking down protein, carbohydrates, fats and cellulose. When we have the necessary enzymes in our body, the result is a “clean” digestive system that breaks down our food and converts it into smaller, absorbable nutrients our body uses to build cells, tissues and organs.

In the past, most people got them through their diets, so we never heard of adding them into our health regimen. We were getting what was needed in our food, and it wasn’t an issue. Why then is it a problem now?

According to Dr. Keith Giaquinto, a Naperville chiropractor, there are several reasons that our bodies are lacking in the necessary enzymes that we need.

The first reason is that because of modern processing and preserving techniques, such as boiling and pasteurization, enzymes are destroyed. Anytime food is heated to above 118 degrees, the enzymes are destroyed.

The second reason is that, as we age, our body’s ability to absorb enzymes also decreases.

The third reason is a little more complicated. Because of the pesticides used in growing our foods, the lack of nutrients in our soil and genetically modified foods, we are left with products that have much less nutrient value than we had in previous generations.

Without the necessary enzymes in our bodies, the result is more infection, illness and disease.

Even though we are just now paying attention to the importance of enzymes in our diet, the concept is not new. Dr. Edward Howell became interested in the study of how enzymes affect our digestive system in the 1930s. Howell was the first researcher to recognize and to outline the importance of  enzymes in food to the nutrition needs of the human body.  His research proved that food enzymes were an essential nutrient. It was his research that led to the discovery of how necessary a healthy digestive system is in the overall health of our bodies.

So, how do we know what enzymes our bodies need?

According to Giaquinto, “the average consumer doesn’t know.” He explains that most of us end up buying broad spectrum/low potency enzyme supplements that most likely will not work. When you find out specifically what your body needs, you can target those specific enzymes that work much more efficiently.

Some of the symptoms of an enzyme deficiency are indigestion, heartburn/bloating/gas, constipation and diarrhea. Giaquinto helps his clients determine their deficiencies in several ways:

Signs and symptoms survey

Food log

24-hour urinalysis

Blood work

Fasting exam

The results of giving your body what it needs are endless but include an increase in energy, frequent bowel movements, sounder sleep and weight loss.

Giaquinto believes that true health reform starts in the kitchen with what you buy and eat. This is your health — own it!

For more information, reach Dr. Keith Giaquinto at 630-548-0700.

Carla Linder-Mayer grew up in Naperville. She and her husband, Mark, have been married since 1977 and raised their three children here. She owns Reality Fitness, 39 ½ W. Jefferson Ave. in Naperville. Contact her at 630-357-7087.