If you suspect that you may have a digestive enzyme deficiency, you can do some testing or take some supplements to see if either makes a difference. Digestive enzyme deficiency symptoms include skin that doesn’t look good, hair that is dull and unhealthy, weak nails, burping, bloating, and abdominal discomfort.
One of the tests used to assess the health of your digestive system is the baking soda test. Put a teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water and drink it on an empty stomach. I’d recommend doing the test between breakfast and lunch. You should burp within thirty seconds. If it takes much longer than that, it often means that you’re not producing enough enzymes in the stomach to neutralize the ions in the baking soda.
A much fancier test is called the Heidelberg test. It means having to swallow a capsule that contains a radio transmitter. Next, the doctor will have you drink some sodium bicarbonate that should neutralize the acid in your stomach. The transmitter sends information back to the doctor. This is considered the gold standard for assessing stomach acid. In my opinion, you don’t need to do something so complicated.
A much easier test is to ask yourself whether you can feel saliva building up in your mouth when you smell or think about food. That’s a sign of proper digestive enzyme function. When you eat food, do you chew it properly, relish it, feel satisfied after, and don’t have a post-meal crash? Does the food energize you for hours? If you can answer yes to all of those questions, your enzymes are probably working pretty well.
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Next is the tummy tolerance test. This test involves taking an enzyme such as a mix of betaine hydrochloride and pepsin. Start with taking one capsule with your meal. With each subsequent meal, take an additional pill. You know you’ve hit your ceiling or threshold when you have pain behind your sternum, burping a lot, or having a lot of digestive discomfort. What you need to determine is how many capsules it takes to hit that threshold. Is it one? Two? Twenty-five? If it takes a lot of capsules, your digestive enzymes are probably not up to snuff.
Another option is doing a stool test to measure your level of pancreatic elastase (PE1). This enzyme passes through the gut unaltered. The level in the stool is a good indication of how well your pancreas is functioning. The reading should be over 500. I’ve had clients with levels as low as 15. I can’t tell you how many people with very low PE1 levels whose entire life changed once they started pancreatic enzyme supplements. It changed everything. They went from a skinny mini or a very large person to normal
body size. Their energy quadrupled. Their whole life changed just by addressing their pancreatic function.