How can you tell if you have a digestive enzyme problem? How do you know it isn’t just allergies?
To me, telling the difference is really quite straightforward. Enzyme deficiency can cause food intolerance, which is very different from immune-mediated allergic reactions. Food allergies have nothing to do with your digestive enzymes.
Critical symptoms of enzyme deficiency include bloating, gas, a “pregnant belly,” and pain. Sometimes the pain is colicky due to incarcerated flatulence. That type of flatulence means that gas can’t escape and instead is trapped in the intestine, causing you pain. Other symptoms include nausea, erratic appetite, and feeling as if you swallowed a brick after eating a meal.
Enzymes are catalysts – they initiate reactions that are an essential part of the digestive process. Enzymes facilitate the break down of the food you eat. When the level of digestive enzymes is low, proper digestion doesn’t occur, and many different problems can result.
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Enzymes are produced in different parts of the digestive system, including the mouth, the stomach, the pancreas, and the small bowel. The extent of your symptoms will depend on which enzymes aren’t being produced in the proper amount. Symptoms also vary depending on how much enzyme is or isn’t being produced.
Some men my age have significant issues with pepsin. They are not producing enough of this stomach enzyme, and often get diagnosed with heartburn and put on an acid blocker (PPIs – proton pump inhibitors). They’re told they have too much stomach acid when in fact they don’t have enough. Dr. Jonathan Wright from Seattle discovered that years ago.
The problem with PPIs is that it blocks the ability of stomach acid to work, which has a harmful trickle-down effect on the rest of the digestive system. Unfortunately, conventional medicine is sometimes very good at ruining long-term health in the interest of short-term symptom relief.
If you’re taking pharmaceutical drugs for an enzyme deficiency, I suggest you go to a naturopath and explore getting off those drugs.