Transform Your Gut Health: The Hidden Powers of Digestive Enzyme Supplements

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For those experiencing digestive discomforts such as bloating, gas, or indigestion, digestive enzyme supplements might offer a solution. Enzymes are crucial for breaking down food into nutrients so that it can be absorbed, but some people don’t make enough. If digestive enzyme supplements are right for you, this article will show you the best place to buy digestive enzymes online. Supplement-Sciences has partnered with Fullscript’s professional-grade supplement formulary to provide a 20% discount on every order, so you always have access to the highest quality supplements. This article covers how digestive enzyme supplements work, the potential health benefits they offer, and what to consider when incorporating them into your daily health regimen.

What Are Digestive Enzymes?

Digestive enzymes are catalysts that aid in breaking down food into nutrients that the body can absorb. They play a crucial role in the digestive process, ensuring that we get the maximum nutritional value from our meals. These enzymes are naturally produced by the body, but they are also available as supplements. Understanding the different types of digestive enzymes and their specific uses can help in choosing the right supplement for individual needs.

  • Amylase: This enzyme is key for carbohydrate digestion. It breaks down starches into simple sugars, aiding in the digestion of foods like pasta, bread, and rice. Amylase is produced in the saliva and the pancreas, starting the digestive process in the mouth and continuing in the small intestine.
  • Protease: Protease targets proteins, breaking them down into amino acids. It’s essential for digesting meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. This enzyme helps in repairing tissues and supporting immune function. The stomach, pancreas, and small intestine produce protease.
  • Lipase: Specializing in fat digestion, lipase breaks down fats into fatty acids and glycerol. It is crucial for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and the digestion of oily foods. Lipase is produced by the pancreas and secreted with the bile into the small intestine.
  • Lactase: For those with lactose intolerance, lactase supplements can be a game-changer. Lactase breaks down lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products, easing digestion for people who struggle to digest these foods.
  • Cellulase: This enzyme, not produced by the human body, breaks down cellulose, a plant fiber. Supplemental cellulase can help in digesting fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, aiding in the overall digestive process.

Each of these enzymes targets specific components of our diet, ensuring the efficient breakdown and absorption of nutrients. People may choose digestive enzyme supplements based on specific dietary needs or digestive issues. For instance, those with lactose intolerance might opt for lactase supplements, while others might choose a broad-spectrum enzyme supplement to aid general digestion. These supplements can be particularly beneficial for individuals with conditions that affect digestive enzyme production or for those looking to enhance nutrient absorption from their diet.

How Does Ox Bile Work?

Ox bile is not an enzyme, but it is commonly included in some digestive supplements, particularly those aimed at improving the digestion of fats. Ox bile, derived from bovine sources, contains bile acids which are critical for the digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins in the small intestine. Here’s how ox bile fits into the digestive process:

Bile Acid’s Role: Bile acids, present in ox bile, are natural compounds produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. They are released into the small intestine to emulsify fats, essentially breaking them down into smaller droplets. This emulsification is crucial for the effective action of lipase, the enzyme that further breaks down fats.

Ox bile supplements can be particularly beneficial for individuals who have had their gallbladders removed, or who have conditions that affect bile production or secretion. In such cases, the body may not produce or release enough bile to effectively emulsify fats (break them into tiny droplets). If fats remain undigested, bacteria in the colon will break them down, leading to digestive discomfort and poor absorption of fat-soluble nutrients. Supplementing with ox bile can help mimic the body’s natural process of fat digestion. So, Ox bile plays a complementary role in in fat digestion, and is often included in digestive supplements alongside enzymes like lipase to support fat digestion.

What Are the Benefits of Digestive Enzymes?

  • Assistance in Managing Chronic Pancreatic Conditions: Prescription-strength pancreatic enzymes (pancrelipase) are essential for individuals with chronic pancreatic insufficiency, cystic fibrosis, or pancreatitis.
    • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI): This condition involves the pancreas not producing enough enzymes, leading to malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies, and symptoms like diarrhea, weight loss, and steatorrhea. Treatment typically involves prescriptions for Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) supplements, which contain lipase, protease, and amylase, with the dosage tailored to individual dietary needs and the severity of the insufficiency.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Enzymes can alleviate common IBS symptoms like bloating and gas, particularly when IBS is linked to food intolerances. [PMC6910206] Common food intolerances associated with IBS include:
    • Lactose Intolerance: For difficulty in digesting lactose, the enzyme lactase is particularly helpful. Lactase supplements can be taken before consuming dairy to help break down lactose, alleviating symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
    • Fructose Intolerance: While there isn’t a specific enzyme supplement for fructose intolerance, dietary management is key. Supplements like xylose isomerase can convert fructose to glucose in some foods, which may help with absorption in some individuals.
    • Gluten Sensitivity: For those with gluten sensitivity (not to be confused with celiac disease), supplements containing the enzyme DPP-IV (Dipeptidyl Peptidase-IV) can assist in breaking down gluten peptides, potentially reducing discomfort associated with gluten ingestion.
    • FODMAPs Sensitivity: Enzymes like alpha-galactosidase can be beneficial for breaking down certain carbohydrates in FODMAPs, particularly in foods like beans and certain vegetables, reducing symptoms like gas and bloating.
    • Food Sensitivity (IgG-related): While there are no specific enzyme supplements that directly address IgG-related food sensitivities, a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme supplement may aid in the overall digestive process, potentially reducing the symptomatic burden of these sensitivities.
  • Gallbladder Removal (Cholecystectomy): After the removal of the gallbladder, difficulties in digesting fats can occur. When there is not enough bile available to emulsify fats into tiny droplets, it is harder to digest. This often results in bloating, diarrhea, and gas, especially after consuming fatty foods. Eating smaller meals with less fat can greatly help manage these digestive symptoms. Supplementing with Ox bile and lipase can also help in fat digestion.
  • Enhanced Nutrient Absorption: All major groups of enzymes, including amylase, protease, and lipase, are important for individuals with conditions like pancreatic insufficiency or post-gastric surgery, ensuring maximal extraction of nutrients from food. [PMC4923703]
  • Potential Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Bromelain and papain may benefit arthritis. noted for their anti-inflammatory properties. [PMC9510077] An infographic was published as part of the referenced article. [*]
  • Indirect Support of Immune Function: Broad-spectrum enzyme supplements improve overall gut health and nutrient absorption, indirectly supporting the immune system and general health maintenance. An evolutionary hypothesis suggests that digestive enzymes once had an immune function. [PMC4333870]
  • Aging-Related Enzyme Decline: As people age, the natural production of digestive enzymes can decrease, leading to digestion-related issues. “Five percent of people older than 70 years and ten percent older than 80 years have pancreatic exocrine insufficiency.” [PMID: 29474746] Supplementing with digestive enzymes can help alleviate these symptoms.
  • High-Fiber Diets: People who eat a diet high in fiber, particularly from sources that are more difficult to break down (like legumes and cruciferous vegetables), may benefit from enzymes like cellulase and hemicellulase to aid in fiber digestion.
  • Chronic Stress: Chronic stress can negatively impact digestive function, including enzyme production. Supplementing with digestive enzymes may help in better food breakdown and nutrient absorption during periods of high stress.
  • Supporting Gastrointestinal Disorders: Conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or short bowel syndrome can impair the body’s ability to produce or effectively use digestive enzymes. Enzyme supplements can aid digestion in these cases.
  • For Enhanced Sports Nutrition: Athletes or those with high physical activity levels may use enzyme supplements to ensure optimal nutrient breakdown and absorption, supporting energy needs and recovery.
  • Eating Disorders Recovery: In the recovery from eating disorders, the body might need extra support in digesting and absorbing nutrients, and enzyme supplements can be an important part of the nutritional rehabilitation process.
  • Celiac Disease: Enzymes like DPP-IV assist in breaking down gluten fragments, potentially reducing discomfort from accidental gluten ingestion, though they are not a cure for celiac disease. [PMC9569549, PMC7400306] The enzyme Caricain was found to be most effective at the neutral pH of the small intestine. [PMC8688929] This study contained an ingredient comparison of commercially available enzymes for gluten intolerance. [*] In a blinded human study of people with gluten sensitivity, Aspergillus niger-derived prolyl endoprotease broke down ~2/3 of the 0.5 grams of gluten in the test meals before it reached the small intestine. [PMC5638938]
  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO): Enzymes that aid in fiber breakdown, such as cellulase and hemicellulase, can benefit those with conditions like Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) or general gut flora imbalances.
  • Leaky Gut Syndrome: Proper digestion of food through enzymes reduces the size of food particles, making them less likely to trigger food sensitivities or irritate the gut lining. This is beneficial in managing leaky gut syndrome, as it minimizes the potential for undigested food particles contributing to gut inflammation and permeability issues.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): In conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, enzyme supplements support digestion.
  • Candida Overgrowth: Enzymes like cellulase and hemicellulase break down the cell walls of candida, helping control its overgrowth. Additionally, enzymes that aid in sugar and carbohydrate digestion, such as amylase and glucoamylase, reduce the food supply for candida.

Food Sources of Digestive Enzymes

You may have heard about enzymes like bromelain and papain being present in certain foods. Here’s a table that shows the food content of different enzymes. However, the potency of enzymes in supplements is standardized and much higher compared to natural food sources.

Food SourceDigestive EnzymeGeneral Enzyme Content
PineappleBromelainHigh in raw, fresh pineapple
PapayaPapainHigh in raw, fresh papaya
MangoAmylasesHigher in ripe mangoes
HoneyVarious enzymesRaw honey contains more enzymes
BananasAmylases, glucosidasesHigher in ripe bananas
AvocadosLipasePresent in raw avocados
KefirVarious enzymesContains enzymes that aid digestion
SauerkrautVarious enzymesFermentation process increases enzymes
KimchiVarious enzymesFermentation process increases enzymes
GingerZingibainPresent in fresh ginger
Amounts vary widely with ripeness and other factors.

What Are Other Enzyme Names?

  • Carbohydrates:
    • Amylase (Alpha-amylase, Diastase, Pancreatic amylase, Ptyalin),
    • Lactase (Beta-galactosidase),
    • Cellulase (Cellulase complex),
    • Invertase (Sucrase),
    • Glucoamylase (Amyloglucosidase),
    • Alpha-Galactosidase.
  • Proteins:
    • Protease (Proteolytic enzyme, Peptidase, Trypsin, Chymotrypsin, Bromelain, Papain),
    • Peptidase (Dipeptidyl peptidase – DPP-IV).
  • Fats:
    • Lipase (Pancreatic lipase, Lingual lipase).
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Phytase,
    • Beta-glucanase,
    • Hemicellulase,
    • Pectinase.

Are Digestive Enzyme Supplements Safe?

Digestive enzyme supplements are generally considered safe for most individuals when used as directed. These supplements are designed to mimic the natural enzymes produced by the body, helping in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients. The body’s digestive system is inherently equipped to handle these enzymes, which means they typically don’t cause harm when taken appropriately. Adverse effects are rare and usually mild, often related to digestive symptoms like discomfort or bloating, which typically resolve on their own.

Medication Interactions with Digestive Enzymes

  • Antidiabetic Medications: Digestive enzymes, especially those that break down carbohydrates, may alter blood sugar levels, affecting the effectiveness of antidiabetic drugs and potentially requiring dosage adjustments.
  • Blood Thinners (Anticoagulants): Certain enzymes like bromelain may have blood-thinning effects, increasing the risk of bleeding when taken with anticoagulants.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Enzymes like bromelain may enhance the absorption of NSAIDs, potentially increasing their effectiveness and the risk of side effects.
  • Chemotherapy Drugs: Some digestive enzymes might interact with chemotherapy drugs by either enhancing or reducing their effectiveness; close monitoring is necessary.
  • Thyroid Medications (Levothyroxine): Digestive enzymes may affect the absorption of thyroid medications, impacting their effectiveness.
  • H2 Blockers and Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): These medications reduce stomach acid, which can alter the environment in which digestive enzymes function, potentially impacting their effectiveness.

Supplement Interactions with Digestive Enzymes

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil, Algal Oil): Digestive enzymes, particularly lipase, can enhance the breakdown and absorption of omega-3 fatty acids. This interaction can potentially increase the effectiveness of omega-3 supplements.
  • Probiotics: While not a direct interaction, digestive enzymes can aid in the breakdown of food, potentially creating a more favorable environment in the gut for probiotics to thrive.
  • Iron Supplements: Certain enzymes may interfere with the absorption of iron supplements. This is particularly relevant if the enzyme supplement contains calcium, which can bind with iron and reduce its absorption.
  • Herbal Supplements (e.g., Garlic, Gingko Biloba): Some herbal supplements can interact with specific enzymes. For instance, enzymes with blood-thinning properties, like bromelain, may enhance the effects of herbs known for their anticoagulant properties.
  • Calcium and Magnesium Supplements: These minerals may interact with certain digestive enzymes, potentially affecting the absorption and effectiveness of the minerals.
  • Fiber Supplements (e.g., Psyllium Husk): High fiber content can alter the rate at which food and enzymes are processed in the digestive system, potentially affecting the effectiveness of the enzymes.

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Bromelain Plus CLA™Biotics Research

Bromelain Plus CLA™ supplies bromelain, along with the enzymes cellulase, lipase, and amylase. In addition to these, it also supplies ficin. It is effective as a digestive enzyme, and may be beneficial for inflammation.*
One (1) tablet three (3) times each day as a dietary supplement or as otherwise directed by a healthcare professional. 

Amount Per 1 Tablet Serving

  • Bromelain … 100mg (2,500 MCU/g)(from pineapple) 
  • Papain … 10mg (from papaya) 
  • Inositol … 10mg
  • Cellulase … 10mg (fungal) 
  • Lipase … 10mg (fungal) 
  • Amylase … 10mg (fungal) 
  • Ficin … 10mg
  • Cysteine … 5mg (as L-Cysteine hydrochloride) 

Fat High Lipase Digestion LPS by Theramedix BioSET

Fat/High Lipase Digestion aids in the proper digestion of fats, carbs, protein and dairy, while promoting cholesterol metabolism. 

Take 1 capsule before each meal or snack

Amount Per 1 Capsule Serving
Proprietary Enzyme Blend … 302mg

  • Protease blend (acid and neutral protease) (25, 000 HUT/10 SAPU/500 PC),
  • Lipase (11, 436 FIP),
  • Amylase (6, 500 DU/30 BAU),
  • Lactase (500 ALU)

Gluten Digest by NOW Foods

Gluten Digest, with BioCore® DPP IV, is a comprehensive enzyme blend formulated to promote the complete digestion of cereal grains.* DPP IV (Dipeptidyl peptidase IV) is a unique enzyme with specific activity against the characteristic proline bonds found in cereal grain proteins.* Gluten Digest also includes proteases and amylases that address other protein and carbohydrate components that commonly co-occur in these foods.*

  • BioCore®DPP IV
  • Helps Digest Gluten and Cereal Grains*

Suggested Use:

Take 1 capsule at the beginning of any meal that may contain gluten.

Amount Per 1 Capsule Serving

  • Enzyme Blend … 274mg*
  • BioCore® DPP IV
  • Protease … 30,000HUT* (from Aspergillus oryzae)
  • Protease … 500DPP-IV* (from Aspergillus oryzae)
  • Protease … 8.5AP* (from Aspergillus melleus)
  • Amylase … 12,000DU* (from Aspergillus oryzae)
  • Protease … 30,000HUT* (from Aspergillus oryzae)
  • Glucoamylase … 20AGU* (from Aspergillus niger)

Lactase Formula by Nature’s Way

For individuals with lactose intolerance or difficulty in digesting dairy products.

Take three capsules as needed just prior to ingesting foods or beverages containing
dairy products or lactose. Take one capsule if you are taking medications or vitamins
containing lactose.

Serving Size: 3 Capsules

Amount Per Serving:
Lactase 10, 350 FCC units
 … 690mg

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

Digestive enzyme supplements can be a valuable addition to the daily regimen, especially if a person is dealing with digestive issues. They help break down foods more efficiently, making nutrients more accessible for absorption. This can lead to improved digestion and less discomfort after meals. People with conditions like lactose intolerance, chronic pancreatitis, or celiac disease might find these supplements particularly beneficial. They can help manage symptoms like bloating, gas, and indigestion. Still, enzyme supplements are just one piece of the puzzle in maintaining a healthy digestive system. A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle are equally important for optimal digestive health.

This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.

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