Updated: Feb 28
As some of you may know, since the start of the new year I have been on a mission to clean up my gut health. Being a high-level competitive athlete and having to scoop mounds of food into my mouth every day in order to recover from my training left me with a pretty messed up gut, and a ton of food sensitivities. After meals, I often found myself gassy, bloated, and even running to the bathroom at times- all of which is not good when trying to live your best life.
I started by making a conscious effort to chew my food more- about 30-50 chews per bit. This helped a ton but I still was having problems.
I also limited and totally eliminated certain foods from my diet. I would then reintroduced those foods back in (not at the same time) to see how my body responded. I typically did this in 3-4 month increments. One of the big culprits for me was eggs. I was sponsored by an egg white company for awhile and pretty much had an endless supply of eggs delivered to my door each month. (If you are an egg lover like me, it was amazing!) This over consumption of eggs (without cycling off) made me develop an intense food sensitivity. Every time I had eggs, I found my self running to the bathroom within 15 minutes of consuming them. Around April 2018, I took them out and tried to reintroduce them every 3-4 months with no improvement.
I'm a major believer in trying to fix things without supplementation or prescription drugs, but I was running out of options, getting inpatient, and I just really wanted to eat eggs again. I am a fan of protein detox protocols and other gut health detox protocols, such as castor oil packs, but I personally didn't want to go that route unless I had to. As a last ditch effort before performing a detox protocol, I decided to try out a digestive enzyme supplement. As with most supplements, I was at first skeptical- especially for the expensive price, but then I was blown away with the results.
But before I get to the results, what are digestive enzymes? Digestive enzymes are chemicals that accelerate the chemical reactions that break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Most of these reactions take place in your pancreas and small intestine, where most of the digestive processes take place. If you don't have enough of the right enzymes to break down the food you are eating, then you are likely to experience gas, bloating, and non-ideal poops (according to the Bristol Stool Chart). All of these symptoms are things I was experiencing.
In regards to supplementation, you can buy digestive enzymes that aid in amylase (carbohydrates), alpha-galactosidase (cruciferous vegetables and legumes- think "Beano"), lipase (fats), and protease (proteins) enzyme production. Most of the digestive enzyme supplements found on the market are combined into one formula, which ends up being the best bang for your buck.
By supplementing to have these enzymes present in your gut, the idea is that your body will be able to easily digest and absorb the nutrients from the foods you are consuming. This ends up helping you absorb more total calories into your body. This may also lead to weight gain since the food you are eating will be absorbed
more efficiently and less likely to exit your back end.
So back to the results. I started taking Designs For Health's Digestzymes and GI Revive daily. Within the first few days, I already started to notice a difference. There was no bloatedness post meal and my stool was scoring WAY better according to the Bristol Stool Chart. I felt like I had more energy, didn't need to consume as much food, and felt like my performance in the gym was way better too! Yes, all of these claims are super subjective, but I really did feel better and my poop looked a lot better too!! haha
Since my gut was doing better, I decided to try out eggs again. Guess what? My stomach was able to handle them! That alone has been a huge win for me. I can't say definitively if it was the digestive enzymes, but based on what I experienced, I definitely believed it played a major role. I'm currently slowly introducing more and more eggs into my diet and will be slowly going off the digestive enzymes to see what happens. I don't like being reliant on a supplement- even if it allows me to eat eggs- but I want to make sure the digestive enzymes are in fact helping my gut indefinitely. I dont just want to put a band aid on it.
If you are eating a well-balanced diet high in non-processed foods, eliminating foods you might be sensititive to, chewing your food thoroughly, and still having gut issues, then (and ONLY then) would I suggest supplementing with digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes seem to work great, but they won't help if you aren't doing everything else right within your lifestyle.
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