Millions of people around the world are affected by a certain degree of lactose intolerance. An unhealthy gut can negatively affect the rest of your body and could lead to other health complications.
A healthy pancreas functions to secrete an array of digestive enzymes to break down proteins, carbohydrates, fats and the sugar found in milk called lactose. Through this article, you will learn how to optimize your digestion and what you can do to improve your gut health.
Digestive Enzymes are Made in the Pancreas
A healthy pancreas produces and secretes digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes and bile ultimately empty into the small intestine to begin breaking down the foods we eat (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats).
Problems can occur when there is a dysfunction in the pancreas’ ability to produce enzymes or the body’s demand exceeds the supply being produced by the pancreas. This dysfunction can occur for a variety of reasons, including:
- Genetic predisposition
- Excessive exercise
- Toxic Exposure
Pancreatic Insufficiency and EPI
An abnormal process in the pancreas called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) results in abdominal cramps, improper digestion, fat in the stool, and weight loss due to nutrient malabsorption. A common cause of EPI is chronic pancreatitis, which is a condition that impairs the pancreas’ production of enzymes necessary for digestion. At least 70 percent of chronic pancreatitis cases stem from chronic alcohol abuse and hence are observed in association with alcoholics.
EPI is also seen in individuals with cystic fibrosis and diabetes. Cystic fibrosis severely affects the lungs, causing excessive mucus production, which can enter into the stomach, build up and block the secretion of digestive enzymes from the pancreas. Diabetes plagues 23.6 million adults and children in the United States alone; almost 8 percent of the American population.
What Is Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is the inability to produce the enzyme lactase (which breaks down the lactose sugar in milk products), causing diarrhea, bloating, cramping and gas. Lactose intolerance is not necessarily an all-or-none type of response. Symptoms are relative to the ability to produce lactase and the amount of milk sugar in the food consumed.
Lactose intolerance can be caused by genetic factors that result in a decrease or total absence of lactase production, including a physiological decline in intestinal lactase activity over time. In more serious cases, lactose intolerance can be the result of damage to the intestinal lining by viral, bacterial or autoimmune inflammatory responses. The good news is that most lactose intolerance can be alleviated with lactase enzyme supplementation.
How Many People are Affected by Lactose Intolerance?
The frequency of diminished lactase activity in populations varies greatly from nearly 5 percent in northern Europe to over 90 percent in Asia and Africa. The prevalence is 6-15 percent of the
United States population.
A study showed that when 27 individuals could not adequately digest whole milk, but were later supplemented with a lactase enzyme, 25 of those 27 individuals showed no signs of maldigestion (an incomplete breakdown of nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract).
Proven Digestive Health Supplement – DIGESTIVE+++
DIGESTIVE+++ contains a full array of digestive enzymes similar to the ones the pancreas makes naturally, to ensure digestion of the various proteins, carbohydrates and fats you consume with meals. It also contains the much-needed lactase enzyme to break down milk sugar, which is found in numerous foods. Milk sugar (lactose) is found not only in easily recognized dairy products, but also in processed foods where it is not as likely foreseen.
If you are lactose intolerant or partially lactose intolerant, this enzyme will support digesting lactose in milk products. The supplement is best consumed right before the meal to activate its purpose while you are eating. DIGESTIVE+++ is unique to other supplements in that it contains digestive enzymes to break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Protein enzymes work at various pH ranges throughout the GI tract and these have been included in the DIGESTIVE+++ formula.
5 Ways to Optimize Your Digestion
To optimize your digestion, it is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet with healthy bacteria that benefit your gut. Here are 5 easy tips to keep in mind when eating, to help your gut digest the food.
- Take small bites of food, eat slowly and chew foods thoroughly.
- Sit down while eating. The flavors, aromas and textures are more enjoyable when eaten more consciously.
- Do not drink large amounts of beverages with a meal. This dilutes enzymes and stomach acids hindering the chemical breakdown of food particles.
- Be mindful of eating too much lactose-containing food. Improperly digested food can linger in the GI tract longer, creating digestive problems, absorption issues and allergy issues.
- Eat your meals and snacks on a regular schedule and avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol with your meals throughout your day.