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What are Digestive Enzyme Supplements? Learn What They Do and How to Take Them Properly

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Article Summary

  • Find out when you should take digestive enzyme supplements
  • Discover why people take them
  • Learn about possible side effects
  • Read how you can get the most from your enzyme supplement
  • Gain insight into the best time to take your digestive enzymes

Digestive enzyme supplements help people break down (digest) the food they eat for better nutrient absorption and less indigestion. They also keep food waste moving through your system, so you don’t get constipated. As your health depends on maximizing the nutrients you get from your food, you need to make sure you always have plenty of digestive enzymes to help break down your food.

Your pancreas and liver naturally produce digestive enzymes. So why would you need a digestive enzyme supplement?

There could be many reasons.

Factors that may indicate you should supplement with digestive enzymes

Some factors make taking digestive enzymes a good idea, especially to promote and support your overall health. These can include:

Age

Sometime in your mid-20s, you simply start making fewer digestive enzymes. This decline continues as you age. Digestive enzymes support digestion, but they also keep your bowels clear of waste. This prevents a build-up of toxins in your body, which causes aging. Taking digestive enzymes helps your body and mind stay young, longer.

Diet

Raw, natural fruits and vegetables supply enzymes that help with digestion. Some fruits like pineapple and papaya have powerful enzymes like bromelain and papain, respectively. However, if your diet currently includes processed and refined foods that have no enzymes, you may need to supplement to prevent your system from getting overwhelmed. Cooking also destroys enzymes. So, your cooked foods also have no enzymes.

Food intolerances

Do you suffer from gas and bloating when you eat dairy products? This is a common sign of lactose intolerance. Troubles with dairy products is a typical sign that your body does not produce enough of the enzyme lactase, resulting in irritation and digestive problems in the small intestine and later your colon.

Gluten is another well-known culprit associated with food intolerance and health problems.

Enzymes help break these down, soothing digestion, and ending the discomfort you usually suffer when you eat these foods.

Feasting

Holidays, parties, and festive occasions can include a lot of eating. Taking a digestive enzyme supplement before you celebrate can (again) help lower the chance that your system gets overwhelmed.

Recent illness

If you have been sick with a stomach illness or taken antibiotics, you may have lost some of those beneficial probiotic bacteria that live in your small intestine and help with digestion and protect your health. A supplement that helps digest food can assist in restoring your natural balance.

To protect your pancreas

The modern diet high in carbs and animal proteins puts a lot of stress on the pancreas. Often, the pancreas becomes inflamed. By taking digestive enzymes, you relieve much of the stress. 

You have frequent digestive trouble

If you have irritable bowels or experience frequent gas, bloating, stomach upset, indigestion, and fatigue after you eat, a digestive enzyme supplement can help. By supporting the breakdown of your food, you remove potential irritants associated with slow-moving bowels and reduce the chance that food sits in your gut undigested (and rot), promoting good digestive health.

What kinds of digestive enzyme supplements are available?

Doctors often prescribe animal-based enzymes when they diagnose a condition like endocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). This is when your pancreas does not produce or deliver enough digestive enzymes to your small intestine.

These pharmaceuticals are not the only enzyme products available. Plant-based digestive enzyme supplements like Digest Infused can be purchased without a prescription.

When choosing, make sure to check products to ensure they provide, at a minimum, a complete range of protease, lipase, lactase, and amylase enzymes. You also want to make sure products are “clean,” meaning free from pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins and produced in a facility that follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

When should you take dietary enzymes supplements?

  • In our modern world, anyone over the age of 20 could benefit from a digestive enzyme supplement. This is especially true for anyone who eats a modern diet with processed foods, refined foods, and foods with a lot of protein, starches, and sugars.

    Eating a diet full of raw, organic fruits and vegetables may help; however, this too may not be enough for the best health. Many of the naturally occurring enzymes in fruits and vegetables break down in the time it takes to go from farm to table.

    Cooking also destroys enzymes. Animal-based enzymes become inactive or break down around 40 degrees Celsius (or just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Plant-based enzymes can survive a greater range; however, almost all enzymes breakdown at temperatures around boiling (100 degrees C / 212 degrees Fahrenheit).  As a result, your cooked food provides no enzymes, even if it’s completely vegan.

    With today’s modern diet, taking a digestive enzyme with meals, especially as you get older, can make all the difference in the world. As the enzymes digest your food, you have less indigestion, more nutrition, and better overall health.

When to take digestive enzymes with meals?

If you are taking a prescription enzyme, always follow your doctor’s medical advice.

For a digestive enzyme supplement, take it before you eat. If you forget, you can always take it after a meal. When sitting down to a large meal, like on holidays, you could take two before, or one before and one after.

Do digestive enzymes really work?

Enzyme replacement therapy is the medically reviewed and recommended treatment for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, so we know digestive enzymes do work.

A 2016 study reported that while animal-based enzymes may be the standard medical treatment, research on plant-based enzymes shows a great deal of promise.

Plant-based enzyme supplements have an advantage over animal-based. The plant-based enzymes can survive the stomach acids better, so you get more of the enzymes you take.

Surviving the journey through the stomach is a real problem for enzymes, which are protein molecules. Stomach acids break down proteins, which often means enzymes need specially coated capsules. Plant-enzymes, due to the more acidic environment of a plant, resist stomach acids better.

Of course, if you’re interested in trying an enzyme supplement, and are concerned about whether it will work for you, ask about the company’s return policy.

For example, we have many, many happy clients who take our digestive enzymes daily for their health – and comfort! Their testimonials speak for themselves. But, if someone should find it doesn’t work for them, they can always return it.  

What are the side effects of digestive enzymes?

Your body naturally produces enzymes for digestion. Fresh, raw, uncooked fruits and vegetables supply enzymes that support digestion. As support for your body’s natural process, digestive enzymes do not produce any side effects.

If you look through different materials online, however, you might see different information. Why?

It depends on whether the source addresses the question of direct and indirect effects. Digestive enzymes do not produce any direct side effects, except for better-digested food.

However, this better-digested food (a good thing!) may produce short-term effects on your gut, especially if you are suffering from any digestive disorder. For example, by better digesting your food, you may stimulate the growth of good probiotic gut bacteria. This, in turn, may cause a little stomach upset as these good bacteria remove bad bacteria that may be related to your digestive problem. Your waste removal process can be improving, which can lead to some detox symptoms.

As digestive enzymes may help restore health to your gut, you may experience indirect side effects as you get better – a lot like a runny nose is a symptom of the cold your body is fighting. In this case, you might in the short-term experience the following when you take digestive enzymes:

  • gas
  • bloating
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • constipation

Typically, if you keep taking the digestive enzymes, these symptoms will pass as your gut becomes healthier and re-adapts to easier digestion and absorption of the food you eat.

One way to limit side effects is to start slow. Take one digestive enzyme in only one of your meals. Once you feel good with the one, increase to two. When two feels right, go ahead and take one with every meal.

Of course, if you take any medications regularly, you should consult with your doctor to confirm that none of your medications will be affected. Likewise, if you take digestive enzymes and continue experiencing persistent symptoms like those listed above, you should seek medical advice to confirm you do not have a more serious medical issue.

Can digestive enzymes be harmful?

If you take any medications, you should consult with your doctor to determine if there are any specific enzymes you should avoid. Or perhaps, if agreed to by both you and your doctor, you may consider moving from the medication to the enzymes, they could share a similar effect.

How to take enzymes

For the best results from your digestive enzyme supplements, you should:

–  Take your supplement with every meal. It might seem like a lot, but consider that our ancestors got a lot of digestive enzymes with every meal. By taking one with every meal, you support digestion, help the waste removal process, and take stress off of your pancreas. It’s best to take before eating, but if you forget, you can always take it with or after your meal.

–  Start by following dosage instructions. You can’t take too many digestive enzymes. Anything your body doesn’t need it will simply expel with your waste. If you are taking digestive enzymes for the first time, you want to start slowly. This helps your body get used to the change. Follow the dosage instructions. Once you get comfortable, take as needed.

Take with a full glass of water. This helps wash it down and supports it through the acids of the stomach.

You will also want to store your supplement in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. This protects them against heat, which can cause them to lose their effectiveness.

By storing and taking your enzymes properly, you will get the best effect. More importantly, you’ll digest your food better and enjoy the good health that comes with it!

A complete digestive enzyme matrix for maximum digestion of proteins, carbs, and fats.

One comment

  1. For years, people have touted the powers of superfoods. Thought to benefit your overall well-being, these foods have been linked to a sharper mind, clearer skin, a healthier immune system, and more. And while many dietitians have questioned superfoods, there is no arguing that some fruits, vegetables, and proteins offer more health benefits than others. Here’s an article from Harvard Medical School about superfoods 10 superfoods to boost a healthy diet

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