SIBO Causes Digestive Enzymes Deficiency [How to diagnose and fix it?]

Does SIBO Cause Digestive Enzyme Deficiency

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Many organs work in tandem for digesting and absorbing the food you take. These organs are responsible for breaking down the food and liquid you consume into simpler forms, including carbs, proteins, vitamins, and fats.

These nutrients are transported through the small intestine and then into your bloodstream, where they supply the energy required for development and repair.

Digestive enzymes are actually globular proteins that speed up the breakdown process of food molecules into smaller molecules so that those can be easily absorbed and digested.

Digestive enzymes can be categorized into three main types, including proteases (responsible for breaking down protein into amino acids and peptides), lipases (break fat into glycerol and three fatty acids), and amylases (used for breaking down carbs into simple sugars).

SIBO and Digestive Enzyme Deficiency

Since some enzymes are also produced in the small intestine (such as maltase, lactase, and sucrase), any damage to your small intestine due to bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can cause a deficiency of a digestive enzyme, resulting in poor digestive function.

SIBO can also lead to disorders such as lactose intolerance. If you do not make adequate amounts of lactase, you will not be able to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk or milk-based products. The undigested lactose will travel to the colon, causing more fluid to enter the colon, while more gas is produced by the bacteria present in the colon.

It creates flatulence, bloating, and diarrhea. Some other health conditions that lead to a deficiency of digestive enzymes include chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, and pancreatic cancer.

gut issues

How to Diagnose a Digestive Enzyme Deficiency?

1. Amylase and Lipase Test

When it comes to digestive enzymes, amylase and lipase are two of the most important enzymes. Pancreatitis, a condition that causes inflammation of the pancreas, increases the levels of both lipase and amylase in the bloodstream.

An amylase and lipase test typically measure their levels in your bloodstream. The enzymes are generally checked when you experience symptoms of pancreatitis or other pancreatic disorder, and the healthcare professional wants to identify the cause.

Symptoms of pancreatitis are:

  • abdominal pain
  • fever, nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • back pain
  • and vomiting

Aside from pancreatitis, there are other possible causes of severe abdominal pain, which include ectopic pregnancy in women, appendicitis, and intestinal blockage. Checking the levels of amylase and lipase is necessary to help you identify the cause of these symptoms and know whether it is pancreatitis, or not.

2. Secretin Stimulation Test

A hormone called secretin is produced by the small intestine. This hormone is responsible for stimulating the pancreas to create a fluid that is used for neutralizing stomach acid, thereby aiding digestion.

The test helps to find out whether the pancreas can respond to secretin. It is typically performed in people with pancreatic diseases  (such as pancreatic cancer or cystic fibrosis) and helps find out the activity of the pancreas.

During the test, the healthcare practitioner inserts a tube down the patient’s throat, into his stomach, and then into his small intestine. Secretin is injected by vein while the duodenal secretions are removed with suction and tested for about two hours.

3. Stool Elastase Test

The stool elastase test is used for testing the proper functioning of the pancreas. This test checks the elastase levels, an enzyme that occurs in fluids created by the pancreas. The enzyme elastase can break down proteins.

How can you Replenish your Low Digestive Enzyme Levels

Replacement of digestive enzymes typically comes from two common sources: over-the-counter supplements and prescription enzyme medications. Prescription enzymes, including Zenpep, Creon, and others consist of pancrelipase, which is a combination of the digestive enzymes, lipase, amylase, and protease.

Zenpep

It also comes with a special coating so that it survives stomach acid and enters into the small intestine. The enzymes are usually produced from the pigs’ pancreases, and these are approved by the FDA.

Over-the-counter enzyme supplements, available in drugstores, on the Internet, and health food stores, are not medications. These are neither regulated or approved by the FDA. Therefore, you cannot be sure about the ingredients of the pills or the amounts of enzymes these pills contain.

The enzymes in these pills usually come from either animal pancreases (such as cows, lambs, or pigs) or plants. The common plant sources include molds, yeasts, fruits, and fungi. Some common examples are bromelain, obtained from pineapples; lactase, derived from purified fungi or yeasts; and papain, obtained from papayas.

Food Sources That Help Replenish Enzyme Levels

1. Pineapple

It is a tropical fruit with plenty of digestive enzymes. Pineapples are rich in digestive enzymes, known as bromelain. These are proteases that help in breaking down protein into the building blocks, which include amino acids. It helps in not just digesting proteins but also in absorbing it.

pineappple

Bromelain is also available in powdered form, and it helps in tenderizing tough meats. It is also widely sold as a health supplement that helps those who find it difficult to digest proteins.

2. Mango

A juicy fruit, mangoes are extremely popular in summer. These fruits consist of the digestive enzyme amylase, which is an enzyme used for breaking down carbohydrates into sugars like maltose and glucose. The amylase enzyme, found in mangoes, starts working more actively when the fruit ripens. It is the reason why mangoes taste sweeter when they start ripening.

mango

The amylase enzyme is also produced by the salivary glands and pancreas. It helps in breaking down carbohydrates so that they can be easily absorbed by your body.

3. Papaya

Another tropical fruit, which has plenty of digestive enzymes, is papaya. Like pineapples, it also consists of proteases that aid the digestion of proteins. Nonetheless, papaya has a different protease group, known as papain.

papaya

Research has shown that consuming a papaya-based formula helps in lessening digestive symptoms of SIBO and IBS, including constipation and bloating. When eating papaya, make sure that you eat it ripe and uncooked because heat exposure removes its digestive enzymes.

4. Honey

It has been estimated that about 400 million pounds of honey are consumed by the people in the US each year. The delicious liquid is valued for its numerous beneficial components, including digestive enzymes.

honey

Here are some of the digestive enzymes found in honey, specifically the raw honey.
  • Amylase: Breaks down carbs like starch into sugars such as maltose and glucose
  • Invertase: Breaks down a sugar called sucrose into fructose and glucose
  • Diastase: Breaks down carbs like starch into maltose
  • Protease: Breaks down a protein into its building blocks, amino acids

5. Banana

Another popular fruit, which contains digestive enzymes, is banana. It contains two groups of enzymes, called amylases and glucosidases, which break down complex carbohydrates like starch into sugars.

banana

Like a mango, the enzymes can break down the carbs into sugars only when the banana starts ripening. That is why yellow bananas taste sweeter than green bananas. Aside from its enzyme content, a banana is one of the finest sources of dietary fiber that helps improve your digestive health. A medium-sized banana (roughly 118 grams) gives you 3 grams of fiber.

Conclusion

As discussed earlier, the digestive enzymes are basically proteins produced by your body for breaking down large molecules like proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into smaller, easy to absorb molecules, so that they can be easily digested by your stomach. Without adequate amounts of digestive enzymes, your body’s ability to absorb and digest food particles decreases, which may eventually result in food intolerances.

While there are plenty of over-the-counter digestive enzyme supplements, the enzymes can also be obtained from healthy food sources. Foods that provide you with plenty of natural digestive enzymes are pineapples, papayas, bananas, avocados, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, mangoes, honey, kiwifruit, and ginger. Including any of these food sources in your diet helps in promoting digestion, as well as better gut health.

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Last Updated on April 30, 2020

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