“When I prayed for success, I forgot to ask for sound sleep and good digestion.” That is an aphorism by American professor Mason Cooley that does a fantastic job explaining the importance of your digestive system towards maintaining long term health. Most illnesses and health problems that people experience, and many people don’t even realize this, stem directly or indirectly from issues with poor digestion. Therefore, you always want your digestive system functioning properly at full speed so that all the nutrients you consume throughout the day are processed and used in the manner that you expect them to be. With that said, you personally need to give your body what it needs sometimes to help it through certain situations. While training for and attempting large quantity food challenges, you are typically consuming extra large high calorie meals that your body is definitely not used to processing. It was not created to process meals that size either, but the human body is capable of extraordinary things, and it actually can process everything if you need it to. As mentioned in our Recovery From Quantity Food Challenges article, supplementing digestive enzymes is one great way that you can help your body through processing these large meals. Your teeth, mouth, and esophagus mechanically digest everything until it reaches your stomach, and then your body’s naturally produced digestive enzymes take over and begin the more important process of chemical digestion. Your body doesn’t naturally maintain the amount of enzymes needed to quickly digest an over-sized high calorie meal, and will have to make more, so you will save your system a lot of work and stressful overtime by supplementing additional enzymes to help it out.

Consider supplementing digestive enzymes to be similar to getting a flu shot. To make a long story short, a flu shot basically injects a small amount of the flu virus into your system so that your body naturally produces all of the “antibodies” that it needs to fight off that flu virus. Your body is then that much stronger for the next few months when fighting off all of the bacteria you come in contact with that may cause you to get the flu. By supplementing digestive enzymes, you are adding additional “troops” into your system to help support your existing army of enzymes as they all fight to break down the thousands of calories you just consumed. Your body is stronger after getting a flu shot, and your digestive system is much stronger with additional enzymes.

While searching around for the particular digestive enzyme supplement that you personally want to use, you may find reviews from people that take enzymes before each and every regular meal they eat. This is not recommended because if you constantly add enzymes to your system, your body will adapt and stop producing these enzymes naturally on its own. If you are currently healthy with a perfectly functioning digestive system, which you should be if you are wanting to attempt food challenges, only worry about supplementing additional digestive enzymes before really large meals. I have been using digestive enzymes for about three years now, and after a challenge I can definitely tell the difference between whether I took my enzyme pills or not. Whether I am eating a 72 ounce steak, 5 pound burrito, or a 22″ pizza, my body begins feeling better much sooner when I take two doses of enzymes beforehand. If I don’t take anything, my recovery time is significantly much longer.

The digestive system basically has two main processes, and the median is the point where the food or liquid passes from your stomach into your small intestine so that it can continue on through your intestines into your colon and then the excess waste can be eliminated out of your body. Supplementing digestive enzymes will help your system while the food and liquid is in your stomach, but they won’t be much help once everything transfers into your intestines. To help your body through the second half of the digestion process, you may really want to consider supplementing it with probiotics. Probiotics are basically tiny microorganisms (live bacteria) that help keep the intestines healthy and assist in digesting food. They are believed to also help the immune system. They can improve intestinal function and maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines. As stated above, the human body was not designed to process thousands of calories and multiple pounds of food at one time, so therefore the intestines definitely are not meant for moving tons of food waste through them at one time, especially without much dietary fiber helping to push everything through. If you are wanting to eat one or two big challenge sized meals per week, you may want to consider supplementing probiotics every now and then. If you are only wanting to do one or two competitions per month or less, you really don’t need to worry about it. If you do choose to take additional probiotics, don’t worry about taking them all the time. Just like with digestive enzymes, your body will quit naturally producing its own intestinal bacteria if you continually add them for it.

FoodChallenges.com cannot currently specifically recommend any particular brand or exact type of digestive enzyme or probiotic supplement. They can both typically be found in the pharmacy / medicine area at most major department and drug stores. You can also of course find them both available online via most health supplement store websites. For a very informative article that further explains digestive enzymes in better detail, please click here. For a very informative article that further explains probiotics in better detail, please click here. That article also contains further information about digestive enzymes. If you plan on continually doing more challenges and competitions, you should definitely consider supplementing digestive enzymes, and you may also want to look into probiotics too. They will both contribute towards keeping your digestive system healthy and functioning properly. Best of all, they will help keep your recovery time after quantity challenges to a minimum. If you are only seeking to recover from one or two eating competitions per month or less, then you don’t need to worry much about either of these. Please note that they can also both be used when competing in eating contests too. This entire After The Challenge section also applies to recovery after eating competitions.

Please also note that we are not inferring you will increase your chances of long term digestion problems by participating in food challenges and competitive eating events. Digestion problems stem from poor lifestyle habits over a long period of time. You don’t increase your chances of getting the flu if you don’t get a flu shot (our digestive enzyme reference above). You just make things easier on your body by physically reinforcing it and making it produce more defensive antibodies. You are reinforcing the first half of your digestive system by supplementing enzymes when necessary, and you are reinforcing the second half with additional probiotics. Overeating is by no means considered “healthy,” but enzymes allow you to do it in a much healthier manner.

Thanks for reading about supplementing digestive enzymes and probiotics & using FoodChallenges.com!!

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