Gluten Free Supplements:
Enzymes & Acidophilus
Yes, that's a real enzyme molecule!
Part of getting a handle on a new Gluten allergy or celiac diagnosis is healing your digestive system. You’re in luck because we can help, we’ve been in your shoes. Before we go too much further, PLEASE CONSULT A NUTRITIONIST! (Click
for a summary of our feelings about the importance of finding a good nutritionist) In addition to eating food that doesn’t make you sick, you may need something to expedite the healing that comes along with proper digestion. Remember, a gluten allergy usually presents with symptoms of malnutrition (weight loss, nausea, constipation etc) so it’s important to get your tummy right so you can digest and absorb the nutrients contained in your food. This is where supplements come in, specifically enzymes and acidophilus.
Enzymes are protein compounds that expedite the chemical reaction that breaks down food into easily absorbable forms for uptake by your small intestine. In chemical terms, enzymes are a ‘catalyst’. When healthy, your body produces the enzymes that are necessary for normal digestion but as we know, a gluten allergy can crippled the normal digestion process. As a result, your tummy is limping around trying to do its job, but things just aren’t working right. Another way to think about it, just because you’ve solved your mystery illness and you’re now eating a gluten free diet, your tummy doesn’t get fixed overnight. Imagine having the flu for 6 weeks (or longer), you’re not gonna feel back to normal 2 days later. It’s gonna take time to heal and you might need some help – enzymes & acidophilus.
As we’ve mentioned, the spectrum of gluten allergy problems is quite broad. Those on the mild side may benefit from a short term enzyme therapy routine to get their belly back on track. Folks on the severe end of things may need enzymes for the rest of their life. Unfortunately, people with celiac disease (severe) may have suffered lasting damage to their digestive system before reaching a proper diagnosis and medical prognosis, and enzymes may be needed to aid in digestion. And the people in the middle may need enzymes for a while to get back to healthy digestion and then benefit from having enzymes on hand when tackling certain foods (for example, beef in our experience).
OK, so where do we go from here? Did we mention “FIND A NUTRITIONIST”? Ask them – or other qualified health professional to prescribe a routine of enzymes that is appropriate for your specific condition. Remember, not all gluten allergy or food allergy situations are alike. Once you have a handle on enzymes and your response to an enzyme therapy regime, you can find a top notch health food store or specialty market (Better Health stores or Arbor Farms Market – examples from Michigan) that may have staff qualified to assist you with enzyme maintenance decisions.
Link to Enzymedica - Digest
Link to Nutrition Now - PB8
In our situation, our Doctor / Nutritionist prescribed a regimen of enzymes to help restore our son’s ‘healthy gut’. And for us, Enzymedica brand enzymes (specifically Digest Gold and Digest Basic) have been a high quality product that’s worked perfectly. (disclaimer – Enzymedica has NOT encouraged us or paid anything for this unsolicited feedback, we’re just satisfied customers that believe strongly in Enzymedica products and what these products can do for people who suffer from food allergies including gluten) We’re sure that other brands offer similar benefits, but as with all things on our site, we share good news from the foods, recipes and products that work for us from our firsthand experience.
OK, now for Acidophilus. Acidophilus is good bacteria in your gut that promotes healthy digestive function and plays a vital role in the effectiveness of your immune system. When everything is working properly, your body is designed to promote and maintain a collection of good bacteria (known as ‘flora’) in your large intestine. And when things get outta whack (food allergy etc) your gut struggles to maintain a healthy balance. Quick biology refresher – stomach to small intestine to large intestine, referred to collectively hereafter as your “gut” – technical term used by our nutritionist. When things start to malfunction – say for example at the beginning of a food allergy response - it produces a cascade effect where undigested (rotting) food overwhelms the good bacteria in your gut and the bad bacteria takes over and sets up shop. With this in mind, you can see that it’s important to stop the problem at the source (food allergy), then restore proper nutrient break-down & uptake (enzymes) and finally allow the restoration of your healthy ‘flora’ with a little help from good bacteria, namely acidophilus. Again, consult your nutritionist or other qualified health care professional for a plan that is suited to your needs.
In our case, Nutrition Now’s PB8 brand acidophilus has worked well and when shopping, we are mindful of the bacteria count – PB8’s 14 billion is much better than some other brands with 3 billion or 5 billion. This is a representation of strength and potency. Because the bacteria are alive, you’ll want to keep it in your fridge per the manufacturer’s instructions. Also, don’t leave your acidophilus in a hot car because you’ll essentially have worthless capsules in a very short time. Same disclaimer, no inducements from PB8 (nutritionnow.com), we just like their products.
In summary, when things are working well, your stomach, small intestine and large intestine comprise a beautiful system that handles your digestive needs. When things aren’t working so well, you need a plan of attack to stop the madness followed by a little help (enzymes & acidophilus) to restore your body’s healthy balance. And if any of this is confusing, simply ask your nutritionist, “so what do I need to do with enzymes and acidophilus?”
Good luck & be well,
~ The LifeAfterGluten Crew
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