An Overview of Digestive Enzymes: Answers to some frequently asked issues about these beneficial dietary supplements.

Medically reviewed by: Genese D. Mansibang, RND


Enzyme supplements are one of the most often used natural digestion aids. The frequently asked issues about these beneficial dietary supplements are addressed in this short tutorial.

Digestive Enzymes: What Are They?

Life is provided by enzymes. All live cells include these physiologically active proteins. Enzymes play a role in the formation of new molecules as well as the breakdown of existing ones by strengthening or weakening chemical bonds.

Simply described, there are two different categories of enzymes: digestive and metabolic. The action of metabolic enzymes within the human body is crucial for cellular health and general wellbeing. The digestive tract secretes digestive enzymes to help break down food and provide our bodies with the nutrients they require for energy.

Where are Digestive Enzymes Produced in the Body?

Digestive enzymes are secreted along the digestive tract to break food down into nutrients and waste. Some of the enzymes are secreted by the salivary glands, the lining of the stomach and intestines, and the liver and gallbladder, but the major producer of digestive enzymes is the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland, about six inches long, that is shaped like a flat pear and is just below and behind the stomach. It empties its digestive enzymes in the first part of the small intestine. When food enters the stomach, the pancreas starts its release of enzymes into a canal (duct) that joins with the bile duct before it empties into the small intestine.

Why Is It Important to Take Digestive Enzymes as a Supplement?

It's possible that many people with digestive problems aren't secreting enough active digestive enzymes or that they require additional support. Almost one in three adults experience digestive issues. Clinical studies have indicated that digestive enzyme supplements can:

  • assist in easing uncomfortable symptoms. Improperly digested food is a big factor in producing digestive issues such as gas, bloating, occasional heartburn and/or indigestion, and altered bowel function.
  • Soothe digestive distress. If food is not digested properly, it can irritate and potentially damage the sensitive intestinal lining. Over time, this irritation may reduce our digestive capacity and inhibit our ability to gain the benefits of the food that we eat.
  • Improve the microbiome and bowel function. A healthy digestive environment is encouraged by encouraging correct digestion, which also helps to treat occasional constipation and irregularity.

For a long time, pancreatin, which is derived from the hog pancreas and contains digestive enzymes like trypsin and chymotrypsin, was the main source of extra digestive enzymes. Enzyme treatment has been transformed by the introduction of microbial and plant-based enzymes. The most popular option for supplementary enzymes nowadays is these vegetarian enzymes. They are the most stable and active enzymes, giving them distinct benefits over enzymes derived from animals. This indicates that they have a higher enzyme activity and are better able to maintain their function in the challenging environment of the intestines. This indicates that they can digest more fat, protein, carbs, and other substances in meals than pancreatin can. They can operate in a pH range that no other source can.

The enzymes produced by microbes, particularly those from the Aspergillus family, are relatively young, in contrast to plant sources like papain from papaya and bromelain from pineapple, which has been around for a very long time. Strong evidence supports the safety of using these enzymes in the food sector and as dietary supplements. These microbial enzymes are the most effective option available. They are therefore more capable than any other source of breaking down fat, protein, and carbs.

How Do Supplements for Digestive Enzymes Work?

These enzymes help in food digestion when consumed with food, typically right before meals. When they are no longer able to perform their function in digestion, they have then digested themselves. Protein is broken down by proteases, carbohydrates and starch are broken down by amylases, and fat is broken down by lipases. The majority of the basic food categories are broken down by these three enzymes. Other enzymes include cellulase, maltase, and sucrase, which break down dietary sugars, as well as lactase, which digests dairy lactose (breaks down cellulose in plant foods).

How soon will I notice results from using digestive enzymes?

Some people's digestive systems will start to function better right away. Others might profit more gradually. Digestion enzymes typically have more immediate benefits than other dietary supplements. Because enzymes produce results quickly, the average experience enables self-evaluation of benefits after just two weeks of treatment. A 14-day trial with a high dosage of digestive enzyme preparation is beneficial to many people. Simply take one or two capsules of the enzyme supplement before each meal during the 14-day trial. Increasing digestion with additional enzymes is frequently all that is required to get rid of food intolerance.

What Should I Check When I Read Labels?

A high-quality enzyme product's component list may likely include measurement units you are unfamiliar with. The degree of activity is more significant than the weight (in mg) of the enzyme. The Food Chemical Codex has set measurement units and testing procedures for the majority of enzymes (FCC).


Why is Blending of Enzyme Variants Important?

When a digestive enzyme product has a mixture of several variations of the main types of enzymes, the best results are attained (proteases, lipases, amylases). This makes it possible to activate the enzymes at various pH levels, ensuring their effectiveness across the whole gastrointestinal system. Because the pH of the human gastrointestinal tract fluctuates from being extremely alkaline to being extremely acidic, many enzyme supplements may not be effective throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract. For instance, Enzymedica's Thera-blend technology uses combinations of carefully blending enzymes that have been demonstrated to function 3X stronger and more than 6X faster than leading other enzyme preparations.

Does the Body Still Produce Enzymes on Its Own Despite Supplemental Digestive Enzymes?

No, supplementary digestive enzymes do nothing more than speed up the digestive process; the body will continue to produce the enzymes required to profit from food as best it can.

What is the Optimal Digestive Enzyme Dosage?

The greatest advice is to simply choose reputable brands and adhere to label directions because there are significant differences in the intensity and quality of digestive enzymes available on the market. You can tell if digestive enzyme pills are functioning by how they make you feel. Change the dosage or product if you do not notice an improvement.

What negative effects might I anticipate from taking digestive enzyme supplements?

Enzymes often have no negative side effects and are very well tolerated. A very tiny percentage of people who first started using a high-potency digestive enzyme supplement have complained of upset stomach and soft stool (more frequent and softer bowel motions). As with any negative impact, stop using and seek medical advice if necessary.

What Supplement for Digestive Enzymes Do You Recommend?

According to Dr. Michael Murray, Enzymedica's Chief Science Officer, Digest Gold succeeds where other products have failed for a number of reasons. In order to maximize enzyme activity over the full range of pH in the human body, Digest Gold incorporates Thera-blend enzymes, which are made up of numerous versions of each type of enzyme. The most efficient means of supporting good digestion are digestive enzymes, and Enzymedica offers the best enzyme products on the market.

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