We’ve all experienced the amazing feeling when we slip Spanx on under a dress and glance in the mirror to see that we almost instantly look thinner. Thanks to that clever shapewear, all of our spillover bumps and bulges, not to mention the stubborn inches we’ve tried to lose for years, just disappear! If only that slimming miracle lasted! So we took notice when health podcaster Talia Pollock, author of Party in my Plants, said, “Digestive enzymes are like Spanx.” Huh? How could something so simple — small proteins that facilitate chemical reactions in the body — deliver slimming results? Keep reading to learn how digestive enzyme rich-foods can aid weight loss.
“Enzymes are the nutritional factor missing in almost everyone’s diet,” asserts Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, author of 60 Seconds to Slim. She notes that every aspect of health, including metabolism and weight loss, is affected by the presence of enzymes, which break food down into key usable parts like vitamins and minerals.
While our body can manufacture its own enzymes, it takes both work and resources. Not to mention that over time, our body becomes less efficient at producing its own enzymes due to age and stress.
But getting enzymes from food is tricky: Nearly 100 percent of a food’s enzymatic power is deactivated when heated. No wonder Schoffro Cook estimates that 95 percent of women over 50 are enzyme-deficient — and packing on pounds as a result.
Without enough enzymes, the body can’t break down the food we eat, so it remains in the gut where it literally weighs us down, says Schoffro Cook. The result: telltale bloat, digestive woes, low energy, cravings and belly fat. This adds burden to our liver and pancreas to correct the shortfall, straining our main slimming organs in such a way that overall fat burning slows way down.
Correct the shortfall, and enzymes go on to work like a type of permanent Spanx: In a 2013 study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, women who added enzyme-rich fruit and veggies to their diet lost 500 percent more weight after six months compared to a control group. And Spanish research shows that dieters who increased their enzyme intake shed 2.5 times more body fat than those who didn’t.
“Getting more ‘food enzymes’ is really just code for eating more raw foods,” says Joel Fuhrman, MD, the Ivy League–educated author of Eat to Live. “The enzymes from raw fruits and veggies are deeply healing and can trigger lasting weight changes.”
Some of our favorite water-rich fruit contains that nourish the liver and speed metabolism. For example, papain, an enzyme found in papaya, and the bromelain in pineapple work to break down heavy proteins like meat, fish and eggs, easing digestion, balancing gut bacteria and erasing bloat.
How enzymes break down food to eliminate bloat and improve health.
Without digestive enzymes: Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) are locked within bulky, hard-to-digest food particles that can’t be absorbed and utilized by the body
With digestive enzymes: Once micronutrients are liberated from food via enzymes, they can be properly used to improve digestion, end bloat, rev metabolism, and encourage weight loss.
3 Digestive Enzyme-Rich Foods for Weight Loss
Scientists have discovered more than 1,000 enzymes in foods that help the body digest, repair and energize our organs. Here are three powerful digestive enzyme-rich foods that’ll help you get slimming results while also optimizing health.
Broccoli guards the gut.
When chewed, the cell wall of green cruciferous vegetables releases myrosinase, an enzyme that wards off weight gain. It also triggers the formation of chemicals that kill E. coli and listeria, two causes of foodborne illness and tummy trouble.
Onions strengthen heart health.
Alliinase enzymes from all varieties of onions help turn off the body’s fat-storage switch. And this enzyme is known to reduce high levels of blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Pineapples ease pain.
Fresh or frozen, this tropical fruit is the world’s richest source of bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down dietary protein, allowing the liver to focus on its job of fat-burning. Bonus: Bromelain has also been shown to break down tissue-irritating proteins that make muscles ache. The result? Speedy pain relief!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.