Digestive enzyme supplements are products formulated to mimic the effects of naturally occurring digestive enzymes that are found within our body that help in breaking down and absorbing food and use the nutrients found in food to give your body energy, help it grow, and perform vital functions. They help in easing stomach problems and are helpful for many different types of health conditions.
When we eat any food item, digestion begins in the mouth. Our saliva starts breaking down food right away into a form that can be absorbed by the body. In this digestive process, enzymes are released and activated at different points.
Our stomach, small intestine, and pancreas all produce digestive enzymes. The Pancreas is the enzyme “powerhouse of digestion”, and produces the most essential digestive enzymes, which help in breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Types of Digestive Enzymes
There are different forms of digestive enzymes, the most important digestive enzymes are produced by the pancreas, they are:
- Amylase (made in the mouth and pancreas; breaks down complex carbohydrates)
- Lipase (made in the pancreas; breaks down fats)
- Protease (made in the pancreas; breaks down proteins)
Some other common enzymes are made in the small intestine, like:
- Lactase (breaks down lactose)
- Sucrase (breaks down sucrose)
What is Digestive Enzyme Insufficiency?
Some individuals’ bodies don’t have enough digestive enzymes, or their bodies don’t release the enzymes as they should. It means, they can’t break down certain foods and absorb nutrients.
A few types of digestive enzyme insufficiency include:
- Lactose intolerance: when your body doesn’t produce enough lactase, so you might have problems digesting the sugar naturally found in milk and dairy products.
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency: when your pancreas doesn’t produce enough of the enzymes necessary to digest carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
- Congenital Sucrase-isomaltose deficiency: when your body doesn’t have enough sucrase to digest certain sugars.
What are the symptoms of digestive enzyme insufficiency?
Digestive enzyme insufficiency causes malnutrition and gastrointestinal irritation. Some common symptoms are:
- Belly pain or cramps
- Oily stools (bowel movements)
- Oily stools (bowel movements)
- Unexplained weight loss
If you experience these symptoms, talk to your doctor, they could be signs of gut irritation or could indicate a more serious condition.
Are there any external sources of digestive enzymes?
Prescription Digestive Enzymes
People who have digestive enzyme insufficiency often need to take prescription digestive enzymes. These are the supplements that help your body to process food and absorb nutrients better.
About 90% of the patients with cystic fibrosis have pancreatic enzyme insufficiency. They need PERT (Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy) to release the enzymes. Healthcare experts also prescribe enzymes for patients with frequent pancreatitis.
There is ongoing research about the role of digestive enzymes in treating irritable bowel syndrome.
Over-the-Counter Digestive Enzymes
Many people prefer to take over-the-counter digestive enzyme supplements for treating problems like reflux, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. They might contain amylase, lipase, and protease. Healthcare providers says that these over-the-counter digestive enzyme supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA. So, the dosage, ingredients, and enzyme concentration aren’t guaranteed, and their side effects are unknown.
If you are a healthy person, you don’t need to take digestive enzyme supplements. The best digestive enzymes are the ones our bodies make naturally, and they work best when you eat a whole food diet.
Can I get digestive enzymes for the food I eat?
There’s no clear evidence to tell that enzyme-rich foods help your digestion. So, it’s better to take a well-balanced diet that contains fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. These foods will naturally help support the work your digestive enzymes are already doing.
Natural Sources of Digestive Enzymes
Fruits, vegetables, and other foods contain natural digestive enzymes, when you eat them in the right amount, it will help you in improving your digestion.
The Food contains digestive enzymes naturally are:
- Honey, especially the raw kind, contains amylase and protease
- Papaya has a type of protease called papain
- Avocados have the digestive enzyme lipase
- Mangoes and bananas have amylase
- Fermented cabbage
Digestive Enzymes Supplements
You may have noticed some digestive enzyme pills, powders, and liquids on the aisles of pharmacies or health and nutrition stores. These supplements may ease digestive disorder symptoms. The dose of these supplements may vary as per your age, weight, and other factors. Over-the-counter supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way as prescription medicines.
Whenever you are thinking of taking any supplement, always talk to your doctor. But you can take over-the-counter lactase supplements to help many people with lactose intolerance.
Avoid lactase supplements for children under age 4, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers.
What are digestive Enzyme supplements used for?
Healthcare experts often prescribe digestive enzymes to people who have conditions of the pancreas. These conditions include:
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Cystic fibrosis
Healthcare providers suggest OTC enzymes can help digestive issues like:
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Ulcerative colitis
People who have an intolerance to dairy products, may take OTC digestive enzymes. These are called lactase supplements. Lactase helps in digesting lactose. Lactose is the main sugar in dairy products.
Lactase supplements can help prevent indigestion in people who have trouble digesting lactose.
Health Benefits of Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Digestive enzymes supplements are taken with meals, they help not only in digesting foods but also have some other benefits like:
- Reducing inflammation
- Stimulating the immune system
- Managing arthritis
- Improve liver health
- Easing the side effects of cancer treatment
A few studies show the health benefits of digestive enzymes, these health benefits are:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Muscle soreness
When should you take digestive enzymes?
There is a misconception that you should take digestive enzyme supplements right when you eat or even after you eat. But this is not true, the process of digestion starts when we look at/think about food. So, we need to use digestive enzymes 15-20 minutes before we eat.
Possible Side Effects of Digestive Enzymes
Generally, Digestive enzyme supplements are safe when you consume the right or recommended doses. Still, they may have some side effects like:
- Stomach Pain
Sometimes people may also have allergic reactions to digestive enzymes. A pregnant woman or breastfeeding mother should consult a healthcare provider before taking digestive enzymes.
There is no standard dosage for taking digestive enzyme supplements, they vary widely. So, it’s important to follow the directions on the label.
Start with a short trial period of two or three weeks. If it works, you may want to continue with it. If not, stop taking it.
Digestive enzymes are used for different health conditions. Many studies claim that they may help people with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. They may help ease the side effects of cancer treatment.
Other studies have found that they may help arthritis pain and muscle soreness, also they may be beneficial for treating autism in kids.
Research is limited, so it is hard to know how helpful digestive enzymes may be for these conditions. Digestive enzymes may have mild side effects. Always use caution when buying supplements. Look for supplements that have been quality tested.
You can try digestive enzymes supplement product from Neato Nutrition. It improves your gut health and helps break down and absorb the nutrients from your food. Improving your digestion and gut health will help you look and feel your best.
The key ingredients of our digestive enzymes are:
- it helps break down proteins into amino acids.
- improve digestion, decrease inflammation
- ease joint/bone pain, and reduce IBS symptoms.
- Supports a healthy immune system, promotes healing of tissues, encourages muscle recovery, and more.
- Breaks down carbohydrates and starches into beneficial glucose
- Improves digestion while preventing and treating diabetes
- Breaking down lactose that is found in mild and dairy products
- Prevent bloating and gas
- Absorb nutrients found in dairy products and improves digestive health
Start supporting your digestive and gut health with these digestive enzymes. Proper gut and digestive health can lead to higher energy levels, a stronger immune system, and much more.