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Episode 8: Digestive enzymes

00:00:33 Glenn:       Welcome back to Natural Health for People and Pets. I'm your co-host of the show, Glen Cooke, but now it's over to the real talent of the show, Narelle Cooke.  

00:00:40 Narelle:       Hello everyone.  

00:00:41 Glenn:       Welcome back to your own show.  

00:00:43 Narelle:       Yeah, it's good to be back. It's great to be back, I love doing what I do. So today it's a people and pets episode, so covering both and I thought we'd talk about digestive enzymes. It comes up a lot for me in clinic with my human clients and I see it come up a lot online on the dog forums. I thought we'd just run through the nitty gritty of digestive enzymes  

00:01:04 Glenn:       Every time we go out to a nice restaurant and have a bit of alcohol and so forth, you always come back and give me a little tablet and say, here, you need to take this. And every time I say, what is it? And you say it's digestive enzymes.  

00:01:15 Narelle:       That's funny because if we've been out and we've had a few drinks, I'll most likely give you a liver supplement. If we've had a big meaty meal, like tonight we're having beef ribs, then yep, we are definitely getting digestive enzymes.  

00:01:25 Glenn:       Yeah, that, digestive enzymes.  

00:01:29 Narelle:       So most people would've heard of the saying, you are what you eat, but the fact is, we are what we assimilate or absorb. It doesn't matter if you're eating the healthiest diet there is, it's not really going to benefit you if you're not actually breaking it down and absorbing the nutrients from that food.  

00:01:45 Glenn:       Well that makes a lot of sense because I've heard you often say that your stomach is your second brain.  

00:01:51 Narelle:       Yeah, I mean it's key. We need nutrition for every aspect of health. So if that's compromised, overall health is compromised in so many different ways, and the fact is digestive disorders are super common. So at least 50% of Australian adults, and I'm sure it's the same in other developed countries such as the US especially, experience digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, constipation, and they say that one in seven experience symptoms that are so distressing that it affects their day-to-day life. So they may not be able to socialise to the extent that they want to, or exercise, or it may impact their ability to work just because they may always need a bathroom close by, things like that. So that's really sad, but it's not just us. It's a similar situation unfortunately with dogs. They did a study in 2015 to assess the prevalence of common canine health problems that presented to this particular veterinary hospital.  

00:02:45 Narelle:       And the result of that study showed that digestive problems were the highest recorded problems among dogs, which is sad, but not surprising given the type of diet that most pet dogs are fed these days. So if we're going to talk about enzymes, let's start with what they are. Enzymes are protein molecules, they catalyse, which means they trigger or they accelerate chemical reactions in the body. Basically they help to turn one thing into something else. So our cells contain thousands of enzymes, and these chemical reactions are constantly occurring. Life wouldn't exist without enzymes. Mm-Hmm. Today we're going to focus on digestive enzymes which catalyse the breakdown of food that then allows the nutrients to be released and absorbed into the bloodstream. If we're not producing enough digestive enzymes, this is where it can lead to issues such as nutrient deficiencies and the downstream health effects of that.  

00:03:44 Glenn:       Has Crohn's got anything to do with that?  

00:03:46 Narelle:       Oh, it absolutely would. Any inflammatory state of the intestinal tract is definitely going to compromise nutrient absorption in enzyme synthesis. So we produce digestive enzymes in our saliva from the pancreas and from what's called the brush border membrane of the small intestine, and what's interesting, a lot of the listeners might know particularly the dog people, there's always that statement online that dogs don't produce any salivary amylase, which means, they shouldn't be fed any carbohydrates, even though they produce enough pancreatic amylase to deal with some carbohydrate in the diet. But in humans, salivary amylase is considered a valid and reliable biomarker of disease progressions due to the way that stress impacts health outcomes, because it's triggered by sympathetic nervous system activation. So it’s interesting, there was a study done only a few years ago to see if that stimulation of sympathetic activity in dogs would also trigger salivary amylase production and at the end of the study, they did find that triggering that sympathetic nervous system response produced some salivary amylase in dogs at a very low level. Probably nothing significant diet-wise, but what made me laugh about the study, and I shouldn't laugh as a scientist, I should be just like, oh yeah, that's cool, but when I was reading through the methodology of the study, the way they triggered sympathetic activation in the dogs was to get them to ejaculate.  

00:05:12 Glenn:       Wow, okay.

00:05:14 Narelle:       And that wasn't the bit that made me laugh. I raised an eyebrow, I went hmm, okay. That is one way you can do that.  

00:05:20 Glenn:       That would be embarrassing in the bedroom, wouldn't it if you just suddenly started drooling. 

00:05:25 Narelle:       Yes, it would. I'm embarrassed that this made me laugh but the way that they got them to ejaculate was, quote unquote digital manipulation. So when I read that, in my mind I'm like, oh, AKA hand job, 'cause digital manipulation, that's using the hand or the digits to manipulate.  

00:05:47 Glenn:       Well, I'm thinking it would've been like a prosthetic, like a cow milking thing or something.  

00:05:53 Narelle:       Well, I dunno. Digital manipulation, it sounds like a human hand, and then they had an artificial vagina to capture everything. Anyway, sorry, I digress from the topic today. 

00:06:01 Glenn:       But wouldn't that be digit manipulation rather than digital, sounds like electronics to me.  

00:06:09 Narelle:       Unless it did say digit, either way, it's irrelevant, it made me laugh and I thought, I'm such a child when I read things like that, I just sit there and giggle to myself. 

00:06:20 Glenn:       Well made me giggle.  

00:06:21 Narelle:       Anyway, that's how they stimulated their nervous system and it worked.. 

00:06:25 Glenn:       Yep, okay.  

00:06:26 Narelle:       So maybe if you're going to feed your dog carbohydrates, you know what to do.  

00:06:29 Glenn:       What?  

00:06:30 Narelle:       Get your dog to ejaculate.  

00:06:33 Narelle:       All right. Maybe we'll cut that out. 

00:06:36 Narelle:       Okay, so that's what enzymes are. There are different types of enzymes, but I'm just going to touch on the key ones that most people will come across when they're looking at, say, supplements for example. So you've got your proteases, they can also be called peptidases, proteolytic enzymes or proteinases, and as the name suggests, they break down proteins into amino acids. Then you've got your lipases, which break down fats. And if you think about medications that work for weight loss, things like Orlistat, which was also called Xenical from memory, they work by inhibiting intestinal lipase enzymes and they prevent the breakdown of fat and that's how they work for weight loss. So if someone on that medication eats fat, basically they're going to get liquid diarrhea pretty quickly. So I can think of much better ways to lose weight than experiencing liquid diarrhea every time you eat some fat.  

00:07:26 Glenn:       Is that the only sort of after effect that happens?  

00:07:30 Narelle:       That's the main one, and that's the motivator not to eat fat for those people. But the problem with that is, if you are not absorbing fats, and you know this really is one of my soapbox topics. Fat doesn't make us fat. And I think we've progressed to that point. 

00:07:45 Glenn:       Well, healthy fats.  

00:07:45 Narelle:       Yeah, healthy fats,  

00:07:47 Glenn:       Not trans fats or any of that ugly substance.  

00:07:50 Narelle:       True, there are some nasty fats out there. But when we are not absorbing fats, we're also not absorbing our fat-soluble vitamins, things like vitamin A, D, E, and K. And they're fundamental to health, particularly now with viruses all over the place. Particularly vitamins A and D for healthy mucus membranes to stop that invasion, so that's lipases. Then we go on to things like amylase, which breaks down carbohydrates. To lactase,  it breaks down carbohydrates as well, but specifically lactose from dairy products. So if someone experiences diarrhea, bloating, flatulence from consuming milk, taking a lactase enzyme can help with those symptoms. And you know, they say …  

00:08:33 Glenn:       Or just don't drink milk.  

00:08:35 Narelle:       I know, they say up to 75% of people worldwide have some degree of lactose intolerance, and it's the same with dogs. Like, you know, once we are weaned, technically we shouldn't be drinking milk.

00:08:48 Narelle:       And then you've got things like cellulase, which is quite common now in formulas, and that breaks down carbohydrates as well. But specifically the insoluble plant fibre cellulose.  

00:09:12 Narelle:       There's some of the types of digestive enzymes. So what might cause us to not produce enough of our own digestive enzymes? Before we jump onto a supplement, we should ask, why aren't we making our own adequately?  

00:09:30 Narelle:       The environment in which digestive enzymes function is key to their synthesis and their activity. This means that the health of the digestive tract, from the gastric and the intestinal mucosa, the pH, the composition of the gut microbiota, they all play critical roles in the process of digestion. There are lots of aspects to our modern lifestyles that damage that digestive environment. And then that's automatically going to reduce our ability to produce digestive enzymes to the degree that we need based on what we're eating. But that's the thing, poor diet is probably the biggest factor for impacting our own endogenous production of enzymes. Foods or drinks that promote inflammation of the intestines, things like coffee, alcohol, sugar, highly processed foods. Up to 60% of Americans are consuming a highly processed diet so it's no wonder that so many people are suffering from digestive complaints when we are destroying our guts with the food that we're eating. Alcohol can also negatively impact the pancreas itself, about a third of acute pancreatitis cases are alcohol induced and up to 90% of pancreatitis patients have a history of chronic alcohol consumption. You've got conditions like exocrine, pancreatic insufficiency, that's in people and dogs as well. German Shepherd's are actually probably more prone to that, but it can occur in any breed.  

00:10:58 Glenn:       Is there any reason for that? Has it ever been listed or explained why? 

00:11:01    Narelle:    There are multiple possible triggers for, I just call it epi, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. It could be damage to the pancreas due to various factors. Inflammation, it could be due to dysfunction with the gallbladder or the bile ducts.  

00:11:18 Glenn:       My question is related to why is it specific in German Shepherds, genetic disorder, or …  

00:11:23 Narelle:       I don't know, maybe one of the listeners knows and can pop it on the Facebook page.  

00:11:28 Glenn:       Yeah, that’d be good. It'd be interested to know why they're so predominantly affected.  

00:11:31 Narelle:       Yeah, so jump on the Facebook page people and let me know.  

00:11:34 Glenn:       Yeah. If anyone's got the statistics around why German Shepherds are more affected by epi.

00:11:40 Narelle:       Physical or psychological stress reduces pancreatic digestive enzyme output. And you know, everyone's just running on adrenaline and stress these days. There are other diseases too, like cystic fibrosis that has a massive impact. Inadequate chewing and eating on the run. Remember for humans, we do produce a lot of salivary amylase and digestion begins in the mouth. a lot of people just chomp, chomp, swallow, I'm looking at someone right now. But that mechanical breakdown of the food that's important for overall digestion so we can't just ignore the fact that that's something we should all be doing. Most people don't chew their food as well as they should.  

00:12:19 Glenn:       Chew your food 42 times. Bert Newton, he was one of the morning show hosts and there was a sidekick on his show that used to come and taste food for him. And every time he'd eat the food, Bert would say to him, chew your food 42 times.   

00:12:32 Narelle:       I remember that.

00:12:34 Glenn:       Belvedere.  

00:12:35 Narelle:       Yep, that's right. So chew your food, people. Medications, oh my goodness, if anyone is on a proton pump inhibitor for acid reflux heartburn, that sort of thing, they're one of the worst meds. And I know some people need to be on them, so don't just stop your meds without talking to your doctor. But they're one of the worst because they reduce stomach acid. You need acid to help break down your food and release the nutrients and absorb them, but you also need acid to trigger certain enzymes into their active form. So by inhibiting that from happening, proton pump inhibitors have quite serious side effects when used long term, like, you know, over decades. I get people in clinic who have been on PPI’s for 30 years, and the medical guidelines say they should only be for a few weeks or a few months at the most, but they just get left on them, anyway have a think about that. And then aging, so as we get older, we naturally produce less digestive enzymes and it decreases by about 10% each decade once we're over 20 years of age.  

00:13:33 Glenn:       Wow. I heard you having this conversation with family the other day talking about pills versus powders. 

00:13:40 Narelle:       That's right, my grandmother is 95 ish  

00:13:44 Glenn:       And in unbelievable condition.

00:13:46 Narelle:       Still lives alone. Still drives, she probably shouldn't drive, but she does.  

00:13:49 Glenn:       She does Pilates.  

00:13:50 Narelle:       Yeah, she's pretty full on,  

00:13:51 Glenn:       But she looks like she's about 70.  

00:13:54 Narelle:       Yeah and she was taking a tablet supplement and I said, you should really be on a powder. And I was trying to explain to her that at her age, her gastric acid is probably inadequate to be really breaking down a tablet formula and getting all the goodness out of it, ao that was fascinating. Powder's the best if you can tolerate them. There are some of the causes of why we may not be producing enough of our own digestive enzymes and I guess the way you'll know if that relates to you, because a lot of people are doing a lot of what I've just mentioned and feel fine, but if you are experiencing really bad bloating, flatulence, any sort of abdominal discomfort, if you've got IBS and that alternating diarrhea and constipation, if you see undigested food in your stools, if you've got stools that float, so that's SSA steatorrhea, which just means they've got too much fat in them, so floaty stools or fatty stools. If you feel really full quickly, like when you eat, could also just be a sign that you're not breaking down and processing your food properly. Or if you suffer from food intolerances, that's also an indication that you might wanna think about.  

00:14:59 Glenn:       So what's the perfect poo? 

00:15:02 Narelle:       The perfect poo is a Bristol stool type four.

00:15:07 Narelle:       So you can google the Bristol stool chart and there's a kid's version that is hilarious and there's an adult version, which is serious. A perfect poo should just be a completely well-formed solid round log. 

00:15:23 Glenn:       Like a bratwurst.  

00:15:24 Narelle:       I guess so. At Uni we're always taught that it should enter the water, can you imagine sitting in class having this conversation with a lecturer? It should be like the Titanic, it should enter the water as sort of that. Oh my goodness.  

00:15:53 Narelle:       I hope none of my lecturers, or colleagues are listening. Anyway, it should just enter the toilet bowl as one continuous, angled stool.  

00:16:07 Glenn:       Ok, we'll just wait for Kate to push Leo off the edge of the raft.   

00:16:13 Narelle:       Oh, okay.  

00:16:14 Glenn:       Okay, so how would you be able to watch that all happen?  

00:16:22 Narelle:       Well, you are not watching it happen, and people find it gross, but it's really important that you look at your poo.  

00:16:29 Glenn:       Mm, I agree, the serious side of it, now we've just mocked it and made fun of it all.

00:16:34 Glenn:       You’ll get people out there outraged saying, oh Glen, something so important and you've just ridiculed it. 

00:16:39 Narelle:       That's right, all the naturopaths will …

00:16:40 Glenn:       Be very angry with me.

00:16:42 Narelle:       You’ll get hate mail.

00:16:44 Glenn:       Yeah, go ahead.  

00:16:45 Narelle:       Yeah, it is important that you look at your poo because it tells us a lot about health and like I said, whether it floats, whether there's mucus, whether there's blood, all those things are really important.  

00:16:54 Glenn:       So because I turned 50, I had a bowel cancer test sent to me from the government and I had to put a little place mat down in the toilet, a little biodegradable mat. And I had to poke my poo with a little stick and put it in a tube. I had to do that twice and then send it off and fortunately my GP contacted me and said, all clear, which was good. But they do test it for bowel cancer and blood within the poo so you have to poke and scrape sort of thing, which is kind of unpleasant, but it's necessary.  

00:17:28 Narelle:       It is. And caught early bowel cancer is really treatable. So that's important. But we do digress. So sources of enzymes beyond making our own, they can come from the food we eat and from supplements. You know I love that most fresh food contains enough active enzymes to digest the proteins, the starches or the fat found in that particular food. For example, avocados and nuts, they're naturally high in lipase to break down the fats in those foods. Things like oats are naturally high in amylase to break down the starch. Pineapples got bromelain, which breaks down protein. It also has some amazing anti-inflammatory effects, which I'm actually going to touch on later in the podcast because I think it's so important for people to know. Papayas got papain which is great for protein again. People may not realise bit kiwi fruit contains an enzyme called actinidin.  

00:18:20 Narelle:       And again, some people might have used it for tenderising meat, but it's great for constipation, so we're back to the poo. If I have chronically constipated clients that I see in clinic, as a starting point I might say, look, just have two kiwi fruit, maybe in the afternoon and then another two in the evening. I can also double as a sweet treat if people like something sweet after dinner. But the enzymes in the kiwi fruit are great for softening the stool and helping it pass out of the body more easily. So give that a go people. Fermented foods like unpasteurised fermented foods are a source of enzymes. When we are looking at our dogs, products like raw beef, pork or lamb pancreas contain natural enzymes from those animals. Raw green tripe, so it's illegal to sell unwashed tripe in Australia, so it's usually heavily bleached and processed and devoid of most of the goodness.

00:19:18 Glenn:       Why is that a regulatory issue?  

00:19:21 Narelle:       I think it's just a safety aspect. It's one of those things I've just accepted. I mean, you can get washed green tripe for dogs, but for human consumption it has to be bleached. So that's why you only see white tripe.  

00:19:33 Glenn:       It almost looks like a calamari. It's got like a honeycomb texture to it.  

00:19:40 Narelle:       Yeah, that's right. The thing about enzymes, and I love how this ties into traditional Chinese medicine, is that most digestive enzymes work best at body temperature. So cold inhibits enzymatic action and cooking or heating destroys it. So if you're going to feed your dog raw pancreas, don't cook it 'cause that defies the point. But in traditional Chinese medicine, they are against having frozen foods and very cold foods because it inhibits good digestion, because enzymes in the body are at body temperature.

00:20:16 Glenn:       They always say room temp, don't they?  

00:20:18 Narelle:       Yeah, room temperature, body temperature, and most metabolic processes in the body operate at an optimal body temperature. So any extreme puts those things out of whack. So if we just pause and think about everything we've spoken about so far, if we look at people, the majority of people are eating highly processed food that's heat treated that's already destroyed the natural enzymes in the food. Then they don't chew their food well. So we are getting less of that action in the mouth, that stage one of enzymatic breakdown. Most people are stressed and they eat when they're stressed, so we're getting less gastric acid production and conversion of active enzymes in the stomach. So that's being compromised. Diets are inflammatory, so we're damaging our intestinal mucosa, so we're not letting those intestinal enzymes do their job.  

00:21:09 Narelle:       So you can see why most people are suffering from digestive complaints and those health problems that could come from that. I think if people just stopped and thought about that for a bit, if you're suffering from reflux that's indicating that something's not operating the way it should. So, what could you do differently if you've got irritable bowel syndrome? I mean, there's lots of compounding factors, but most people want a pill, they just want an easy solution without really pausing and thinking about, well what could I do differently diet wise, stress wise, psychologically to optimise digestion. 

00:21:46 Glenn:       As you know, my grandmother had stomach issues and it does range around in my family a fair bit. One of the other things that I do find interesting is that I've spoken to people before who do have stomach issues, yet they'll down a two liter bottle of Coke or Mountain Dew or something like that. So when I have seen people who have had those severe complaints before, they're usually smashing really, really sugary soft drinks or they're eating really heavily spiced foods or anything like that that just don't agree with their system. 

00:22:18 Narelle:       That’s right. And it's not just about digestive enzymes. I mean it is, but people don't realise health problems that are related to digestive enzymes and poor gut function. So if someone's depressed and anxious, for example, they'll rarely think about diet or gut health. You know, PMS for women, fatigue, even obesity, you know, that whole overfed and undernourished concept. They could all be tied back to poor gut function, poor enzyme production and it goes on from there. So there are quite broad reaching health consequences of poor gut health and we've just spoken about people, but even with dogs, it's no surprise, probably the majority of my dog cases in clinic would be allergies and digestive upsets. And again, that doesn't surprise me, given that most dogs are on a highly processed, heat treated kibble, which is pro-inflammatory.  

00:23:07 Narelle:       If you've got a dog that's prone to stress and anxiety, then that's further compromising matters. A lot of behavioral problems we don't know could be like for people, stemming from poor gut health and enzyme function. So moving on to what you might be able to do, if you think all of that applies to you or your dog, you might wanna go out and buy a supplement to try.  Supplements for digestive enzymes can originate from three sources. You can get animal derived, plant derived or microbial based. Historically digestive enzymes have come from porcine or bovine sources, so pig and beef, which, you know, makes them inappropriate for vegetarian and vegan patients for example. They include things such as pancreatin, pepsin trypsin, and chymotrypsin and they're particularly important if we're talking dogs, for dogs with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.  

00:23:57 Narelle:       The plant sourced enzymes are those things like bromelain from pineapple and papain from papaya. Now, more recently you'll see a lot of what's called microbial derived enzymes and they come from fungal or bacterial sources. They grow them on a media, and then they ferment them and then once the whole process is finished, they extract the enzymes, it doesn't actually contain any microbial residue so they are suitable for vegetarians. The other great thing about the microbial derived enzymes is that they're stable across a much wider pH range than the animal-based enzymes so they are active in both the acidic stomach environment as well as the alkaline intestines. So when I'm choosing digestive enzyme supplements for my human clients or my dog clients, I don't have a single go-to product. I'm always trying to pick a formula that suits the presentation of the person, or the dog.  

00:24:54 Narelle:       So if I've got a dog that's on a primarily kibble diet, I'll look for one that's higher in the carbohydrate digestive enzymes. If I've got a dog with a history of fat malabsorption or mild pancreatitis, I'll look for one that's higher in,the lipases for example. The other thing people need to be aware of when they're buying a digestive enzyme are the units of measure. Firstly, always buy a product that actually lists out the enzymes themselves because some animal products might just say on the label, contains enzymes, which tells you nothing. Human products are regulated a lot more strictly so they tend to list out whether there's lactase, cellulase, amylase, proteases for example. The other thing is the strength of the enzymes. Enzymes may be present in a product, but unless they're functional,they're not going to be any good.  

00:25:45 Narelle:       So a product label should list enzyme strength in what's called standard activity units rather than by weight. Just to give the listeners an example, if you pick up a product and the digestive enzyme supplement says it contains 40 milligrams of lipase, and then you pick up another product and it says it contains 20 milligrams of lipase, you might go, well, I better pick the stronger one because it's a bigger dose, so therefore it's going to be more active. But you don't actually know that it's not giving you that information based on weight. But if you picked up a product and it said it contains 15,000 HUT, so that's a measure for proteases, and then another product had 45,000 HUT, well then in that case, you know that that second product is three times more potent than the first product. So it's going to break down more protein in the same time period than the other product.  

00:26:36 Narelle:       So that's really important. If we think about some practical applications for dogs, animals with a normal pancreas generally don't need a digestive enzyme supplement and it's not something I've ever used for our dogs for digestive problems or just for the sake of it. They did a study in 2017 where they actually supplemented healthy dogs with either plant-based or based enzymes and then they had a control group that didn't get any enzymes, and at the end of the study they found that there was no difference at all between the the three groups in terms of the digestibility of their food. Meaning there was really no benefit to the supplementation. So healthy animals, healthy people, don't really need to supplement, it's just a waste of money.  

00:27:21 Glenn:       Which I think has been people's argument long term anyway, with supplements.  

00:27:25 Narelle:       That’s right. For us and for my clients, I don't recommend things just for the sake of it.  

00:27:29 Narelle:       Yeah. It just doesn't make sense. And we have to remember, when it comes to supplements more broadly, the body, particularly the liver, still has to metabolise those ingredients so it's still putting a burden on the body. So if you don't need them, just don't take them.  

00:27:43 Glenn:       So how do you know if you need them or you don't need them?  

00:27:45 Narelle:       Well, remember earlier, we went through some of the physical symptoms that people might experience. They're the obvious, let's try a digestive enzyme supplement, sort of symptoms. But if we look at older dogs particularly if underweight, they would probably benefit from trying an enzyme, because like people, the older dogs get they produce less naturally. Dogs with digestive orders, like with people again, if your dog’s got a lot of gas, a lot of rumbling noises from its gut, frequent diarrhea or stools that contain a lot of mucus or undigested food. Now for dogs that are fed a raw BARF style diet, sometimes I do see carrot come out in our dog's poo. But to me that's not a red flag that our dogs need to be on enzymes. I just know that that's plant matter that's coming through in chunks. Obviously dogs with the exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, they absolutely need it for life. Some say that digestive enzymes can help reduce dogs eating their poo, because they make it less attractive, and by increasing the dog's nutritional uptake from food they won't seek out that poo to eat it in the first place. I don't know. So if any of our listeners have had experience where that's worked using enzymes, post it on the Facebook page. 

00:29:01 Glenn:       Well people usually say, giving your dog pineapple stops them wanting to eat their own poo.  

00:29:04 Narelle:       Well see that's interesting because pineapple is …

00:29:07 Glenn:       Bromelain.  

00:29:11 Narelle:       Dogs that are going through a dietary transition, going from a highly processed heat treated high carb kibble to a high protein, high fat, raw food diet, their body may not be used to producing those high levels of proteases and lipases to deal with the raw food. So some support in the short term might be beneficial for those dogs. Dogs that are highly stressed, again, like humans that compromises digestion, so while you're working on the behavioral aspects, you might also support their gut health as well. Dogs that are on antibiotics or any medications that interfere with the gut microbiome might benefit and dogs with food allergies or intolerances. Like, that's a really interesting point and I don't know if a lot of people are aware that food intolerances can develop in response to incomplete protein digestion.  

00:30:01 Narelle:       So everything we've spoken about already today could contribute to the poor breakdown of food that can set dogs up and people for food intolerances. These undigested proteins can cross into the bloodstream, the body flags them as foreign substances, mounts an immune response and then that ends up triggering an adverse food reaction. So when we give digestive enzymes with food, it helps them to better break down the proteins into the smaller amino acid subunits, which then helps to minimise the risk of adverse food reactions occurring in the first place. But if we give digestive enzymes between meals, it can actually help with intolerances as well because, once a protein gets into the bloodstream, it forms a complex, I'll just call it like an immune complex and digestive enzymes, when they're not dealing with food to break down, can then actually attack these complexes and clear them from the bloodstream, which makes the allergy or the intolerance less for the drug. So I find that fascinating. I probably haven't explained it very well.

00:31:03 Glenn:       Sounds very complicated.  

00:31:04 Narelle:       I haven't explained it very well, but believe me, it's a thing. The other benefit of giving, and this is how I've used digestive enzymes for our dog. So our dog's guts, we've been really lucky, we haven't really had any issues with any of our dogs that they've needed enzymes for dietary reasons so far. Touch wood. But what I have used enzymes for, when Ladybug came out of her spinal surgery, episode two, what happened to Ladybug? They're great anti-inflammatory agents, particularly bromelain, which is really well studied for all of these uses beyond digestion and it's been shown to be as effective in some instances as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. So one of bromelain’s most common applications is in the treatment of inflammation and soft tissue injuries.  

00:31:54 Narelle:       It can speed up healing, from bruises, hematomas, it's great for reducing swelling and pain and tenderness. If taken before surgery, it can speed up recovery time and then when you take it again after surgery, that's just doing that as well. But it's just so safe to take before and after, it's been shown to be helpful for a lot of joint conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, any of those musculoskeletal injuries, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune disorders for sinusitis. A lot of research particularly for kids in that regard, which is why fresh pineapple is so good. So during winter when you get all the sniffles and things like that, you know, fresh pineapple is great.  

00:32:35 Glenn:       I was going to ask that question. I was going to say, would it be beneficial just to eat pineapple or should you take it as a supplement form? Like what is the best source?  

00:32:44 Narelle:       I'm always going to say food first. Fresh produce is really where we should be starting, and it's only if that's not effective, or the problem with fresh food is compliance for a lot of people. So if I said to you, you need to eat pineapple every day, the first couple of days you might be like, oh yeah this is awesome, I can do this. But then it becomes a chore. You gotta chop up the pineapple, maybe you don't feel like it, maybe they're not in season anymore. Maybe you can't get to the shops to buy one, so people tend to fall off the wagon when they have to rely on specific foods regularly. 

00:33:18 Glenn:       And some people don't like the taste of pineapple,  

00:33:20 Narelle:       That's it, yeah. So, because some of my clients may not be taking the supplement that I particularly want them to take. For example, I prefer powders. 

00:33:33 Glenn: Why? 

00:33:34 Narelle: For better absorption, I do know that.  

00:33:42 Glenn:       I know, but people on the show might not. 

00:33:44 Narelle:       Well we mentioned it earlier with, with my grandma.  

00:33:47 Glenn:       We did.  

00:33:48 Narelle:       So I might say, this powder's going to be so much better for you, but if they're not going to comply, if the effort of spooning that powder into a glass of water and drinking that a couple of times a day, if they're not going to adhere to that, then there's no point giving them a powder, even if it's a better product. If they're going to throw a tablet back three times a day, no problem, then I'm going to go, oh, you know, it's not the best option. But the best thing is that you're taking something that makes sense.  

00:34:12 Glenn:       It does make sense. Because look, people might be listening on the show thinking, well, why wouldn't they just do that? And from somebody who doesn't do all the right things, i.e. me, who won't take certain powders and stuff like that, or conveniently forgets or just sometimes forgets to do it. It would be easy for me to point the finger to other people and say, well, why won't you do it? Why won't you go into these measures to look after your own health? Well, you know, I'm not a great candidate for that. So I kind of understand how life and inconvenience gets in the way of you looking after your optimal health, which is just crazy really. We seem to wait until something diabolically goes wrong and then we want to do something about it rather than a lot of these preventative measures.  

00:34:56 Narelle:       Yeah. I see it every day in clinic where people are suffering, but it's still not enough for them to motivate them to adhere to the optimal protocol. But that's fine. You know, that's life and that's what flexibility is about in working with someone.  

00:35:08 Glenn:       I know plenty of people and I know you'd never talk to me about client confidentiality anyway, but friends of mine who are fitness trainers have said that people will turn up there and then they'll catch up with them in the street while they're smashing a coke and they're saying, oh, I don't wanna do this, I've got stomach issues and I'm breaking out in acne and my skin's terrible and all this sort of stuff. And they'll see them walking down the road with a pie and a coke. They say, what's going on? They go, oh yeah, look, you know, life inconvenience, blah, blah blah. But you know, even though we talk about takeaways and so forth, there are other options, other healthier options. But, you know, sometimes shitty food tastes good.  

00:35:47 Narelle:       Yeah and even the last episode we did on fasting, I know the enormous health benefits of fasting, but I don't do it. It's just, I find it hard. I find it uncomfortable, I get hangry. So even though I know it would be awesome for me, that's just not something I'm drawn to do myself. But I highly encourage everyone else to, to give it a go.  

00:36:07 Glenn:       Well, Q did it, our friend Q who's a personal friend of Narelle's and mine. I think he got onto day 6 and he was pretty much just doing a water fast. 

00:36:29 Narelle:       That's quite extreme. I don't recommend that most people go to that extreme, particularly if there's any underlying health issues.  

00:36:36 Glenn:       Yeah. Well he didn't have any underlying health issues. He was testing his blood every day. He was really going through all the responsible measures that you would if you're going through such a long fast. But one thing that he did find was that his vision improved dramatically. He said that not only did he see benefits in losing quite a significant amount of weight, 'cause he's done several of them now, but he said that his mental clarity has improved. His vision has improved. I think he said he's sleeping better if I recall properly. But quite a significant amount of benefits anyway. I know this is a digestive thing and not a fasting thing, but you know it's all interconnected somehow, because fasting is connected to the digestive system funnily enough.  

00:37:19 Narelle:       That’s correct. So if we look at the safety of digestive enzymes now that we've just touched on the safety of fasting. Oral administration of digestive enzymes is generally really safe and tolerated by most people. The only caution is advised, or one of the main cautions advised is for those people taking blood thinners, because there's a risk of hemorrhage and that's mainly due to bromelain. It interferes with platelet aggregation, so anyone out there on things like warfarin, just be mindful of bromelain content of any enzymes. Most problems, if you're going to see them, are more likely to occur with the animal-based ones rather than the microbial or the plant-based ones, with the exception of bromelain. Some people can be hypersensitive to pineapple, again, bromelain.

00:38:06 Glenn:       What ways? Like how would it surface ?

00:38:08 Narelle:       Maybe hives or a rash, tingling in the mouth, things like that. 00:38:14 Glenn:       Well I got hives from eating too many oranges one day.  

00:38:16 Narelle:       Strawberries can do it, that's a common culprit.  

00:38:19 Glenn:       Yeah. I think I ate a bag of oranges over the course of a day. I was just, these oranges are delicious and I got hives from it. 

00:38:28 Narelle:       There you go. If you gave your dog a digestive enzyme for the first time and then it actually triggered a worsening of symptoms like loose stools, or vomiting, or anything like that, just stop it. Same with people. If you start something I always tell my clients to really pay attention, particularly for the first week to any symptoms, like anything new, anything different, just be body aware. Just stop it and let me know, so we can do something about it. I guess we've covered a lot today so we should probably wrap it up. At the end of the day, I do think there's a place for digestive enzymes for both people and pets, but as I've repeated over and over throughout this episode, we have to remember that good digestion is not just about popping a pill to deal with the problem.  

00:39:15 Narelle:       It requires synergistic action between our diet, our lifestyle. We need good stomach acid, we need a healthy gastrointestinal lining. All of these things that are fundamental to nutrient absorption. That's what we've gotta keep in mind, rather than just hitting straight for the health shop and a supplement. Before you run out and spend your money, eliminate foods that could be aggravating your system. Look at your stress levels and your lifestyle and see how you could improve the psychological wellbeing of your situation. Practice mindful eating. All of this. Who sits quietly at a dinner table these days and just eats and has conversation? We're all in front of the computers and we're in front of the tv. I'll admit that. There's all this external stimulation and distraction, which again is part of the obesity epidemic, 'cause we're all just doing hand to mouth. We're not consciously thinking about what we're doing and chewing our food properly. It's just really that mind numbing hand to mouth.  

00:40:16 Glenn:       Yeah, in some cases it still happens, but gone is the day of sitting at the table with the family and having a conversation and eating your food properly. It's more about rushing around and watching Netflix or doing something. I remember you and I when we still lived in Melbourne, we went to a Chinese restaurant one time and I was on the phone 'cause I was working in security then.  

00:40:35 Narelle:       I know, I remember.  

00:40:37 Glenn:       And the owner of the restaurant who we were friends with, he came over and said, you shouldn't talk on the phone when you're eating. It's very, very bad for digestion. I kind of thought that was a weird thing to say but as I've looked into it and you've been really getting involved in your Bachelor course and you were coming back and telling me all these things about the importance of mindfulness and digestion, it made sense. 

00:41:01 Narelle:       I think we're all evolving over time with our knowledge. What do you always say, “Once you know better, … “ 

00:41:07 Glenn:       ‘Do the best you can until you know better, and when you know better, do better’. That's Maya Angelou's quote.  

00:41:13 Narelle:       That’s it. I love that quote.  

00:41:14 Glenn:       It's the best quote in the world. 

00:41:15 Narelle:       There's no point in people beating themselves up for things that they didn't know. I used to feed our dogs a brand, a kibble that now makes me cringe and die a little bit on the inside, but I don't beat myself up about it 'cause I didn't know better at the time.  

00:41:25 Glenn:       That's right. It's all about convenience and prior knowledge. And I think if you know better and you don't do better, then you're a fool.  

00:41:32 Narelle:       So just keep that in mind. Digestive enzyme supplements are really just a band aid approach unless you fix the underlying cause. I think we might leave it there today.  

00:42:37 Glenn:       So if people want to approach you about hosting a seminar, how would they do that?  

00:42:41 Narelle:       If you're interested in me coming and doing a seminar, the best way to contact me is via email, narelle@naturalhealthandnutrition.com.au. If you've got any questions or any feedback you wanna provide about today's show jump onto the Facebook page, Natural Health for People and Pets. And then if you wanna know more about me and having consultations for you or your dog , jump onto my website, naturalhealthandnutrition.com.au. Well thank you everyone. I hope you got something out of the digestive enzyme episode and that you'll think about what you're doing with your diets.  

00:43:16 Glenn:       And Titanic Poos  

00:43:18 Narelle:       Titanic poos <laugh>. The cue music today needs to be the Titanic.  

00:43:23 Glenn:       We need Celine Dion singing us out.  

00:43:25 Narelle:      Well I'll leave that up to you,  

00:43:27 Glenn:       Well, we'll get copyright blasted too.  

00:43:29 Narelle:       Okay. Thanks everyone. Bye. Bye. 

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