Did you read last week’s introduction to enzymes? If you need to catch up, here’s last week’s post:


Digestive enzymes help our body break down food quicker. The hydrochloric acid in our stomach does an ok job, but the enzymes are really what help to speed it up. The acid we produce does a pretty good job of breaking plants down. Meat not as much because it needs a much lower pH to really break down completely.


That actually brings me to my next point of why digestive enzyme supplementation can be so beneficial. Our stomach contains sensors which help to determine what kind of acidity our stomach needs to break the food down and also which enzymes are needed.   Combining certain foods together can actually hinder the process of digestion as one food may hinder the breakdown of another. Again, as we age, our capacity to produce adequate enzymes decreases. The result? Gas, bloating, acid reflux, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowl syndrome, etc.


Much of the breakdown happens in our stomach while the nutrient absorption happens in our small intestine. We haven’t evolved as quickly as our diet has. We’ve only been combining large amounts of foods for a couple thousand years (well the rich people were). We’ve only been combining processed foods for about 50 years. As you might guess, this new way of eating isn’t on par with our body’s ability to keep up with it.


OK, so food absorption happens in the small intestine. HOWEVER, we’re only absorbing what we’ve broken down adequately enough. By that I mean that the pores in our small intestine that pass nutrients through into our blood are only so big. We need to break food down into teeny, tiny particles for us to utilize the nutrients in them.


Side note: That’s why smoothies, juicing and whole-food powders can be so healthy when used for supplementation because most of the work of getting the food broken down into small particles has already been done!


If you haven’t been too overloaded with variables yet, here’s another to consider. The area of our small intestine that we can absorb nutrients into our blood is only so long, we only get a couple hours (around 3 + or -) to finish getting the food broken down enough to utilize it. If not broken down adequately, then that food just keeps moving through our intestines, digesting and rotting along the way. So, yes, if you haven’t broken down your meal well enough, you literally have rotting food sitting in your body right now.


So far, here are the couple things that really matter:


  • We produce enzymes to help break down food. Raw foods have live enzymes while cooked, pasteurized and (most) processed foods do not. Our body’s production capacity for enzymes diminishes as we age.
  • Digestive enzymes help break down food, while systemic enzymes help to regulate energy production, detoxification, and healing. Digestion is most important, so if we eat foods without enzymes, our systemic enzyme production takes a hit.
  • We can’t absorb what we don’t break down, and we can’t break down what we don’t have the capacity to.
  • There are many factors that contribute to the process of digestion including enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and intestinal health.


Next week, I will focus on the specific benefits of enzyme supplementation. As you can see now, this is a complicated issue. Really, if you just didn’t want to read this and decided to take an enzyme pill with every meal, you’d benefit. Knowing why is what drives me to make healthier decisions and hopefully you too.


I’ll wrap up this week with a specific tip for any of you who suffer from digestive discomfort. I don’t believe in acid reducers. Heart burn is a form of indigestion. Not because you have “too much” acid, but because your food isn’t digesting well enough and acidic gas is the byproduct. That acidic gas is what comes up your esophagus and burns. If you actually had liquid hydrochloric acid bubbling up from your stomach, you’d be in more serious trouble!


Try raw aloe vera juice to help with almost any digestive discomfort. I drink a shot a day and it’s amazing. I have gotten family members and friends onto aloe juice and every single one of them has noticed a difference. There is a large quality differential in the aloe vera juice market. I have searched high and low and looked at a lot of test results. Aloe Life is the best juice I have tried, and tops on all the tests I have seen. I made a video explaining more about it here:



Russ Marchewka’s commitment to better nutrition has earned him the nickname “Mr. Healthy” on the tour. He has spent the last eight years studying how nutrition affects his volleyball game. For more, visit his website, or connect with him on Facebook,

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