Written By Liz Oakes
Taking a digestive enzymes supplement may be used by anyone who has health problems relating to indigestion, such as gas, bloating or heartburn.
It also aids other digestive problems such as leaky gut and irritable bowel syndrome.
The best digestive enzymes will contain ingredients made from natural products rather than synthetic ingredients.
Fortunately most of the digestive enzymes sold are made from natural ingredients, as the manufacturers know they work better.
Taking supplements of these valuable enzymes can be very effective to help any digestive problems that make you feel unwell.
Many people have leaky gut syndrome, IBS or other digestive problems, including those with allergies or chemically sensitivity.
Depending on the health problem that they are treating, your digestive enzymes supplement may contain various ingredients, and may have only some of the range of enzymes available, if they target specific digestive issues.
Have you been hearing about using enzymes to aid digestion, and wondered exactly what are digestive enzymes?
There are a number of enzymes that the body uses to help to digest food and each of the enzymes has a particular role in this process.
Many enzymes can be found in food sources, and it would be advantageous to add these foods to your diet.
While it is preferable to get it from natural organically produced sources, it would be hard to get sufficient from food to help your gut problems.
Some companies prefer to use vegetable based enzymes even though the enzymes made from animals are said to be more concentrated than those that are made from vegetables sources.
If you are vegan, be aware that some enzymes are made from animal sources, but more and more are now made from vegetable sources, as this natural health approach is now used where possible.
There are companies who are making vegetable based enzymes that are produced from a type of mushroom, and these will be preferred by vegans, or those who simply prefer to take non-animal based remedies.
If you have digestion problems such as indigestion, with gas, bloating or heartburn you may need some help to digest your food better.
Enzymes help the digestion of all types of foods and help to heal and to prevent both leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive issues that make you feel rotten.
Enzymes may be grouped according to what they do, though there is some cross-over as some may be used to help more than one category.
The proteolytic enzymes in digestive enzymes supplements can be divided into animal based enzymes which include pancreatin, pepsin and chymotrypsin and plant based enzymes which include protease, bromelain and papain.
So lets look at some of the most used enzymes that you might find in your digestive enzymes supplement and learn more about them:
Papain: Papain aids the digestion of protein, and of fats and carbohydrates.
This enzyme is found in the plant, leaves, roots and fruit of the papaya or pawpaw tree and this fruit is known as a meat tenderizer and is sold for that purpose.
So you can imagine it would be helpful in your digestive enzymes supplement to aid digestion of meat.
It has a strong role to aid indigestion, ulcers, fever and is an anti-inflammatory herb.
Products for topical use that contained papaya have been withdrawn from sale as they caused reactions in a number of people (when used on the skin, not when taken.)
Protease: This enzyme is also found in both pineapples and papayas, and is also found in kiwi fruit, which is a source of this enzyme in some remedies.
It is another of the enzymes used to break down protein and may also aid inflammation. Most digestive enzymes supplements source this enzyme from pineapples and papain, but it may also come from aspergillus fungus.
Pancreatin: This enzyme, along with both pepsin and chymotrypsin, is made from secretions of animal pancreas, and is usually made from the innards of cows and pigs.
It is known to aid the digestion of protein, fats and carbohydrates as it contains protease and amylase.
It is used to help digestive problems as well as sports injuries, viral infections, food allergies, auto immune disease, and is now being used in trials for treatments of cancer.
Bromelain: This remedy is made from pineapple and is known to cause problems for some allergic people.
So if you have severe allergies, you should check with your health professional before taking it.
It is one of the enzymes used to break down protein and may aid inflammation.
When used in digestive enzymes it is often take mid-way through a meal, or at least with food.
There are benefits of bromelain to help spring allergies, and remedies made from it are excellent the anti inflammatory treatments.
If you are taking it for that purpose, it may be that it is suggested that you take it between meals, but this may when you are likely to react to it.
If you take it in a mixed digestive enzymes capsule for healing your leaky gut, it must be taken with your meals, preferably in the middle of the meal, once food is already in your stomach.
Although this helps you to avoid allergic reactions, use it with care and check with your health professional if you are very allergic.
Lipase: Lipase helps to break down fats and is produced in the mouth, pancreas, liver and stomach, and has its strongest action in the part of the day before noon.
This enzyme is very helpful for anyone with Celiac disease, cystic fibrosis and chronic fatigue syndrome. It also assists with healing leaky gut and may help to prevent pancreatic inflammation.
Lipase can be produced from aspergillus fungus, but there are no other natural food sources of this enzyme.
This enzyme helps all aspects of digestion and storage of fat, and may help you to lose weight too, as it is related to breaking down and storage of fat in the body and burning fat for energy.
Cellulase: Most cellulase is sourced from fungi or yeast and in particular the aspergillus fungus, which is grown in a laboratory for this purpose to be used in vegetarian remedies.
Other enzymes are also sourced from this fungus including protease, lipase, amylase and lactase.
This is now the most common source of cellulase found in digestive enzymes supplements.
Although this enzyme occurs in avocados, oat sprouts, peas and reishi mushrooms the amounts are not high, but eating them may still be beneficial.
Lactase also made from aspergillus fungus, is used to digest lactose milk and sugar. Natural sources include tomatoes, peaches, apples and almonds.
The best way to take a digestive enzymes supplement is with food, and usually you take it with your second mouthful.
This is for two reasons. One it needs to be taken as early as possible in the meal to allow it to work to aid digestion, and secondly it needs some food to be in the stomach before you take it.
Depending on the type of digestive enzymes, you may need to discuss exactly how much you need to take with your health professional.
Remedies come in different formulas and may contain other ingredients that may also benefit you.
The presence of undigested proteins can cause intestinal permeability, commonly known as leaky gut syndrome and these proteins may end up in the bloodstream.
When the immune system finds these proteins in your blood, it will cause the immune system to think these proteins are invaders and create white blood cells to destroy them.
It is an important part of not only aiding digestive system health but also to help to strengthen immune system health.
If your digestive system is not working well protein may pass undigested through to the lower gut.
If you are eating foods on a daily basis that cause this problem the end result is a weakened immune system.
The addition of a digestive enzymes supplement with your meals may help to prevent this problem.
If you're on a diet to aid a leaky gut your naturopath may suggest that you take this remedy.
It is a common supplement for leaky gut syndrome. Your doctor or naturopath may recommend that it is taken with every meal.
Alternatively they may advise that you only take it with meals where you are eating foods that you have particular problems with, so it is best that you discuss it with them if possible.