One of the most difficult aspects of keeping weight off is the carbohydrate trap.
Eating carbs is delicious and convenient, but too many can cause fat deposits around the waistline and make you feel sluggish.
What most people don’t realize is that the “overeating” of carbs might not be their biggest problem — proper digestion of carbs is what most people are actually lacking.
There’s one specific type of enzyme we need to break down carbs, but it’s not always the easiest to get, depending on what your diet is like, of course.
Carb Digestion in the Human Body
While simple carbs like fruit are the fastest-digesting ones, starches and breads are different.
Carbohydrate digestion begins when these foods are chewed in the mouth and ends with elimination from the colon.
Between these first and last steps, carbs are first broken down by the saliva secreted from your salivary glands, which moistens the food as it’s chewed.
This saliva contains digestive enzymes to help the body process carbohydrates, including amylase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down carbs.
Once the digested food reaches the pancreas, it releases pancreatic amylase to break down carbs into dextrin and maltose, which are finally made into glycogen to be stored in the liver.
Amylase — The Enzyme That Breaks Down Carbohydrates
Enzymes like amylase are needed for proper digestion according naturopathic doctor Josh Axe, but most people don’t get enough. As a result their saliva lacks the proper enzymes to break down carbs, and everything from dental problems to gas, digestive problems and more can happen.
“Without proper levels of amylase and other digestive enzymes, it really is impossible to have your health be at its best,” Dr. Axe said on his website.
He recommends supplementation with amylase for people who don’t have enough stored within their bodies.
Enzymes are held in a bank account of sorts, and when the account starts running low, you need to add more “deposits” to make your digestion work properly.
“At this point (the conclusion of the carbohydrate breakdown process), if you don’t have a deficit of digestive enzymes, then most of the work is done,” Axe said.
“However, for many people, digestive enzyme supplementation is needed and helps this whole process take place as it should.”
Top Food Sources of Amylase
There are several different food sources of amylase as well. Many of the top sources come from the brassica (cruciferous) vegetable family, including the following:
Other sources of amylase include:
All cereal grasses except barley (contains alpha amylase, which breaks down random locations on the “chain” like structure of starches and carbohydrates)
Corn (make sure yours is not GMO)
Sweet potato (contains beta amylase, which breaks down the ends of the carbohydrate starch chain, including the large polysaccharide structures within the molecules)
“Enzymes play a key role in every function in the human body,” Dr. Axe said.
“These protein-based substances are involved in breathing, eating, digestion, kidney and liver function, reproduction and more.”
Where to Find Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Digestive enzyme supplements aren’t especially popular yet among most everyday health food store companies, as items like elderberry, vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc (justifiably so) have been among the most widely purchased during the COVID-19 situation.
But these supplements are becoming increasingly popular among people who want to support their overall health, and their ability to digest their favorite foods like pizza, pasta, bread and other carbohydrates, in a natural and holistic-minded way. Digestive enzymes are typically taken with large meals as a supplement to help your body digest carbs, proteins, and fats more efficiently. This helps prevent bloating, post-meal fatigue, and may even help prevent weight gain in people whose digestion needs an assist.
When shopping for digestive enzyme supplements, make sure you find one that contains amylase in its formula, especially if you eat carbs even two or three times per week.
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This article is not intended to treat, prevent, or cure any diseases and does not constitute medical advice. See our full disclaimer here. For more information on digestive enzymes and how to use the $50 gift card, send us an inbox message on Facebook here.