| gut support

10 Benefits Of A Digestive Enzyme Supplement

By Sara Novak

With the help of stomach acid and enzymes, our body is able to digest a wide array of foods, from proteins to starches to dairy and fats. However, some foods may present issues when it comes to our digestion and sometimes our digestion does not run like the well oiled machine we would like. We may also have other ailments that slow digestion, for example an underlying illness. And since our gut health is so closely linked to every other aspect of our health, how we digest foods really matters. Is your digestion lacking? Are you tired and fatigued? These are just a few of the reasons that an enzyme supplement might be perfect for you. 

Table Of Contents:

What Is An Enzyme Supplement?:

what is an enzyme supplement

The body naturally produces a wide array of digestive enzymes. Amylase is an enzyme produced by the body that binds to starches or carbohydrates. Lipase binds to fats, lactase binds to sugars produced in dairy, and trypsin binds to proteins. Enzyme supplements come in a tablet or chewable form and they may contain one or a number of digestive enzymes meant to mimic the body’s production of enzymes. They are meant to help the body produce enough enzymes to properly break down the foods you eat.  

Other Sources Of Enzymes:

other sources of enzymes

Your body produces a wide array of enzymes mostly in your pancreas, but also in your mouth, stomach, and small intestine. You can also get enzymes in foods, many of which are fruits or fermented foods. These include:

  • Papaya
  • Pineapple 
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut 
  • Yogurt 
  • Kiwi 
  • Ginger 

Learn More: The Top 4 Probiotics For Women

10 Benefits Of An Enzyme Supplement:

If you are having digestive issues that are indeed related to the improper digestion of certain foods, it may also be worth considering a supplement. If the improper digestion of certain foods is leading to other related conditions, an enzyme supplement may also be helpful. Here are some benefits of taking an enzyme supplement. 

1. Inflammation

inflammation

Our bodies are wondrous machines. They are capable of knowing when there is an invader within our borders and doing everything possible to get rid of it. When you get a cut or other wound, the body sends an onslaught of white blood cells to the site of the injury to protect against infection and start the healing process. Still, sometimes the body’s reaction to an invader can make you just as sick as the invader. Chronic inflammation is a good example. This happens when the body senses something foreign like plaque in the arteries or on our teeth or high blood sugar. Inside of your body, it can cause an immune response that in some cases can lead to pain and other side effects. Chronic inflammation is also linked to autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis in the body. 

Enzyme supplements have been shown in some research to reduce this inflammatory response. A study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences found that proteolytic enzymes reduced inflammatory markers in rats. Another study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that bromelain, an enzyme extract found in pineapples, may help treat osteoarthritis, or inflammation of the joints. 

2. Scar Tissue Elimination

scar tissue and enzyme

Healing is another process in the body that requires enzymes. Abdominal adhesions are a common side effect of abdominal surgery and they can also occur in some people that have not had surgery. But oftentimes the presence of fibrin, also known as scar tissue in the body, can be problematic. Circulating fibrin is linked to cardiovascular disease, clot formation, inflammation, and pain. Enzyme supplements have been shown to aid in breaking down fibrin within the body in the same way that they help to break down the foods that you eat. 

3. Absorption Of Nutrients

nutrient absorption and enzymes

If your body is unable to properly break down the foods that you are eating through digestion, you may have trouble absorbing the nutrients that you have consumed. In the most serious cases, this can cause malnutrition. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is an extreme example of malabsorption and it happens when the pancreas does not release enough enzymes to break down the foods that you are eating. Fat digestion seems to occur the most because of a lack of the fat enzyme lipase. This is a rare condition and you should definitely talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms. More common and less serious malabsorption can also occur. Digestive enzymes give your body a boost to help break down the foods that you are eating so that you can better absorb them.

4. Better Digestion

better digestion with enzymes

Enzyme supplements have been shown to help with digestion. For example, if you eat a wide array of hard to digest foods like cruciferous vegetables and legumes (which are not recommended on the Thermo diet), it can be hard for your body to break them down because it may not naturally produce enough amylase. The other common enzyme that many of us lack is lactase, which is why we have trouble breaking down many forms of dairy. Much of the research on the subject has been done on enzyme replacement therapy which is often used for “pancreatic insufficiency.” A study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology found that enzyme supplements show promise as a treatment for those that cannot produce enough pancreatic enzymes as a result of other underlying conditions like cystic fibrosis and certain types of cancer. Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a digestive enzyme in kiwi helped rats break down meat proteins. 

Read More: Lactobacillus: The Strain To Amazing Gut Health

5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS and enzymes

Irritable bowel syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic, “is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both.” Enzyme supplements might help you manage IBS because it helps the body to break down foods that are more difficult or trigger foods that can cause IBS flare ups. They can also reduce gas, bloating, and stomach cramping that occurs after meals in patients with IBS. A small study published in the journal Frontline Gastroenterology found that patients with IBS seemed to benefit from taking an enzyme supplement and more research should be done on the subject. Another study published in the journal European Review for Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences found that a supplement that included beta-glucan, inositol, and digestive enzymes “has shown to improve some IBS symptoms, such as bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain, all connected to the presence of gas inside the intestinal lumen.” While research on the subject is still in its infancy, it shows promise in those that have long suffered from chronic IBS. 

6. Increases Your Energy

increases energy

Your body breaks foods down into energy, waste, and nutrients. The kidneys filter out waste via the bladder and urine and then the last stop in waste removal is a bowel movement. At the same time, the body absorbs the nutrients and minerals found in the foods that you  are eating while using protein, fats, and carbohydrates as energy to help us perform bodily functions and to move through life. But when this process is broken down, the body is less able to get the energy and nutrients from the foods we eat. An enzyme supplement can help the body to break down our foods so that we are better able to extract energy from the foods that we are eating. Additionally, our bodies do much of our digesting late at night. And if your body is having trouble breaking foods down, it can keep you up at night. That is why eating dinner late at night is not good for your sleep. And of course, when your sleep is disrupted, it can make the next day painful. A study published in the journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that “control of gastrointestinal disease states will result in improved sleep quality. It is, therefore, important for gastroenterologists to take a detailed sleep history and equally important for sleep specialists to identify any underlying gastrointestinal diseases in order to better care for patients.” 

7. Prevents Leaky Gut 

leaky gut and enzymes

According to Harvard Health, “an unhealthy gut lining may have large cracks or holes, allowing partially digested food, toxins, and bugs to penetrate the tissues beneath it. This may trigger inflammation and changes in the gut flora (normal bacteria) that could lead to problems within the digestive tract and beyond.” Enzyme support has been shown to help break down the large proteins and bacteria that damage the gut lining. The gut lining is long, delicate, and really important for maintaining balance and optimal health in the gut. 

8. Decreases Fatigue And Pain

fatigue and enzymes

When you have trouble with digestion, it can slow down a number of systems in the body and at the same time, it can cause pain. If you are experiencing cramping and discomfort from the foods that you are eating, you may need some help with digestion. This can also help with the fatigue that is caused from slow digestion. There is nothing worse than when foods end up stuck in your gut, fermenting, and causing gas. Digestive enzymes can help push slow digestion along and decrease the fatigue and pain that goes along with it. If you are feeling sluggish, you may want to consider adding a digestive enzyme supplement to your repertoire. 

9. Combats Anxiety

anxiety and enzymes

Our gut health is closely linked to our mental health. The enteric nervous system is located in the gut. It is responsible for controlling the body’s digestion by releasing gastric acid, mucus, as well as digestive enzymes into the gut. New research has shown that those with anxiety are more likely to have digestive issues like IBS, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain, and an upset stomach. According to a study published in the Annals of Gastroenterology, “strong evidence suggests that gut microbiota has an important role in bidirectional interactions between the gut and the nervous system. It interacts with the central nervous system by regulating brain chemistry and influencing neuro-endocrine systems associated with stress response, anxiety and memory function.” Another study published in the journal Neurotherapeutics found that “gut peptides are important regulators of microbiota-gut-brain signaling in health and stress-related psychiatric illnesses.” And finally, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research found that “the study of the gut microbiome has increasingly revealed an important role in modulating brain function and mental health.”

10. Weight Loss Support

weight loss and enzymes

Can you believe that we carry weight along our gastrointestinal tract? It has been said that the average American carries around between 5-20 extra pounds of poop in their intestines. Gross!  These are pounds of built up, undigested foods stuck inside. The better we digest the foods we eat, the better we look and feel. Taking a daily probiotic along with enzyme support helps keep digestion moving along and can help support weight loss. A study published in the journal Gut Liver found that taking a lipase supplement before a high fat meal reduced the feeling of fullness in study participants. 

Need a boost? Try zuENZYMES: Digestive Enzymes

enzymes