Under ideal circumstances, your body is able to break down food and absorb nutrients effectively. Unfortunately, we are not living in an ideal world, and many people are dealing with digestive issues. Perhaps you are one of them.

If you are dealing with digestive difficulties or other symptoms that may be related to nutrient deficits, you may benefit from taking digestive enzymes.

What are digestive enzymes? How do they work? Who should take them? Are there any side effects? This article will answer all your questions you may have about digestive enzymes. Let’s dig in.

Do I Need Digestive Enzymes?

Digestive enzymes are important enzymes that help your digestive system by breaking down large macromolecules in your food into smaller molecules that your body can absorb. There are three classes of digestive enzymes. Proteolytic enzymes digest protein, lipases digest fat, and amylase digest carbs.

Digestive enzymes that humans need include:

  • Amylase: breaks down carbohydrate
  • Pepsin: breaks down protein
  • Lipase: breaks down fat
  • Cellulase: breaks down fiber
  • Lactase: breaks down lactose
  • Sucrase: breaks down sugar sucrose into glucose and fructose
  • Maltase: breaks down sugar maltose into smaller glucose molecules

How Do Digestive Enzymes Work?

Digestive enzymes are absolutely essential for your digestion.

  • First, salivary amylase is released through your saliva to start breaking down your food.
  • Next, the parietal cells of your stomach release acids, pepsin, gastric amylase, and other enzymes to break the partially digested food into chyme, a semifluid semi-digested food.
  • Then your stomach acid helps to neutralize the salivatory amylase to allow the gastric amylase to work better.
  • An hour later, the chyme moves into the duodenum, the upper small intestine, where the hormone secretin gets released.
  • This is followed by the pancreas releasing hormones, bicarbonate, bile, and enzymes, such as lipase, amylase, nuclease, and trypsin.
  • With the help of the bicarbonate that changed the acidity of the chyme to alkaline, the enzymes can break down your food.

Digestive Enzyme Benefits

  • Assist in breaking down of nutrients
  • Improve digestion
  • Improves IBS, acid reflux, and other digestive disorders
  • Enhance nutrient absorption
  • Prevent nutritional deficiency
  • Prevent and treat leaky gut

Do You Need To Take Digestive Enzyme Supplements?

While your body naturally has digestive enzymes, many people don’t have enough, making supplementation beneficial, and often necessary. If you experience any digestion difficulties or symptoms, you may benefit from digestive enzymes.

If you have the following symptoms, you may benefit from taking digestive enzymes:

  • Cravings for certain foods
  • Thyroid problems
  • Heartburn, indigestion or burping
  • Hair that is thinning or falling out
  • Dry or lackluster skin
  • Trouble concentrating or brain fog
  • Morning fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping well
  • Feeling too tired to exercise
  • Mood swings, depression or irritability
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Worsened PMS

Sources of digestive enzymes

  • Fruit-sourced: from pineapple and papaya
  • Plant-sourced; from probiotics, yeast, and fungi
  • Animal-sourced: from ox or hog

Enzymes to look for in a full spectrum digestive enzyme supplement

  • Alpha-galactosidase
  • Amylase
  • Cellulase
  • Glucoamylase
  • Invertase
  • Lactase
  • Lipase
  • Malt diastase
  • Protease (or acid proteases)
  • Peptidase
  • Beta-glucanase
  • Pectinase
  • Phytase

Foods With Natural Enzymes

  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Kefir and yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Mango
  • Miso, soy sauce and tempeh (fermented soy products)
  • Sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Avocado
  • Bee pollen
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Raw honey

Potential Side Effects Of Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are usually well-tolerated and beneficial. Side-effects may include nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, gas, headaches, dizziness, and allergic reactions.

If you have a history of liver or gallbladder disease or ulcers, some digestive enzymes may not be right for you. Always talk to your doctor before taking them. If you take any daily medications, have health problems, or have any questions, talk to your doctor before taking digestive enzymes.

Digestive enzymes can greatly improve your digestion and other symptoms by helping your body to break down food and absorb nutrients effectively. Most people can benefit from taking digestive enzymes. However, always talk to your doctor before taking them.

Do you take digestive enzymes? Do you have any questions regarding digestive enzymes? Comment below, we would love to hear from you.

Sources

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2840008

https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_digestive_enzymes_zenpep/drugs-condition.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11773607

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19152478

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4923703/

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works