How the Modern Diet Destroys Digestive Enzymes

Woman Unable to Eat Trigger Foods
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Food intolerances have existed since the dawn of humanity. First recorded around 2500 BCE, ancient doctors noted that, on rare occasions, certain individuals experienced abnormal digestive discomfort when consuming foods that caused no issues when eaten by others. In modern times, the prevalence of food sensitivities has exploded, with approximately 15 to 20% of people reporting a consistent negative reaction to certain classes of food. What is to blame for this emerging epidemic?

Unlike a food allergy, which causes an immune system response to what is perceived as a dangerous foreign pathogen, a food sensitivity primarily affects the digestive tract. When you consume something which you do not tolerate well, your body is not able to produce a sufficient quantity of the digestive enzymes necessary to break down certain components of that food. Partially digested food reaches parts of the digestive tract which are not properly equipped to further metabolize it. As a result, this undigested food interacts with gut bacteria and stomach acid to produce excessive gas, acid indigestion, and sudden bowel urges.

Unfortunately, scientists have determined that many conveniences of the modern diet, including preservatives, emulsifiers, and artificial sweeteners, may to be blame. These synthetic additives present in high concentrations in processed foods have significantly improved the shelf life, texture, and taste of our diet, but at the expense of disrupting our natural digestive processes and their ability to properly break down food.

Food Additives Negatively Affect Digestion
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In addition, today's ubiquitous Western diet is less nutrient dense than the diets of our forebears. Since the digestive system adapts slowly to changes in the foods you eat, consuming typical modern foods for long periods of time causes your body produce fewer digestive enzymes over time. When you suddenly try to eat healthy and introduce relatively large quantities whole fruits or vegetables, your digestive tract is ill-equipped to handle such nutrient density. The resulting gastrointestinal distress causes you to avoid many smart nutritional choices, perpetuating your digestive enzyme deficiencies and food sensitivities.

For this reason, you may benefit from providing your body with the digestive enzymes necessary to properly metabolize fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Talk with your doctor about taking a broad digestive enzyme supplement or specific digestive enzymes tailored to your individual needs, as well as the possibility of slowly reintroducing healthy "trigger foods" back into your diet.



Jennifer recently retired from her career as a Certified Manual Physical Therapist to spend more time with her family. When she isn't writing about natural medicine, she enjoys practicing yoga, rock climbing, and running marathons.

Email Jennifer at [email protected].


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