Many people suffer from food intolerances, but most people do not realize that these may be stemming from a lack of digestive enzymes. For example, one day a person may eat a piece of fruit and experience gas and bloating shortly thereafter. On a different day, eating a bagel may cause stomach discomfort, and consuming greasy food might lead to indigestion. A person suffering from these types of problems may think that he/she has food allergies or sensitivities and might even start to avoid certain foods when a lack of digestive enzymes may be the real culprit.
Dietary supplements in the form of digestive enzymes can be taken with meals to support the normal digestion of foods that tend to cause gas, bloating, or indigestion. One of the most essential digestive enzymes is called Dipeptidyl peptidase, which breaks down gluten and casein; two digestive irritants that are commonly found in many foods. Research has previously demonstrated that adding digestive enzymes to the diet helps support the digestion of gluten in individuals who have celiac sprue . Celiac sprue is a complex disease that causes an inflammatory response to ingested gluten, and individuals who have combined digestive enzymes with their diet have reported being able to safely increase their consumption of foods containing gluten. More specifically, the dietary supplementation of enzymes such as Dipeptidyl peptidase can help alter the restricted diet of people suffering from gluten sensitivity.
Another common health problem that many individuals suffer from is lactose intolerance, which is described as the occurrence of digestive distress after consuming dairy products. Lactose intolerance is the result of an inability of the digestive tract to properly break down lactose, a sugar found in most dairy products, due to the inadequate production of an essential enzyme called lactase . Clinical research has shown that lactase enzyme supplements support digestive health in lactose intolerant individuals by contributing to gastrointestinal comfort . Using digestive enzyme formulas with an adequate amount of lactase allows individuals with lactose intolerance to enjoy dairy foods by supporting healthy digestive function.
In addition to these two essential enzymes, always look for products that contain the following ingredients:
- Bromelain and protease, which promote the digestion of proteins
- Alpha Galactosidase, which supports the breakdown of foods that promote gas
- Amylase, which supports the breakdown of starch
- Lipase, which supports the breakdown of fat
- Cellulase, which supports the breakdown of plant fiber
- Xylanase, which promotes the metabolizing of artificial food dyes and preservatives
Overall, research consistently indicates that enzyme supplementation supports healthy intestinal function in individuals with digestive disorders [4, 5], and the above mentioned ingredients promote normal digestion as well as the reduction of gas, bloating, food irritations and food sensitivities.
There are many choices when it comes to choosing the right digestive enzyme. Unfortunately, many companies intentionally make it very difficult to decide by offering a wide range of digestive products. The most common tactic is to offer single ingredient products that are only able to address one particular problem. For someone that may or may not know exactly what enzymes they are lacking, it easy to wind up recommending or using one product for lactose, one for gassy foods, one for fat digestion, one for indigestion, and the list goes on and on. Companies that follow this type of business model don't necessarily have the doctors’ or the patients’ best interests in mind. At the same time, there are products that are offered by companies who do have their clients’ best interests in mind. These types of products will include all of the aforementioned ingredients in one single formula, which makes it very easy to get a handle on any type of digestive issue. Take the guesswork out of which product to choose by offering a high quality product that addresses any digestive concern with a full spectrum digestive enzyme formula.
- Gass J, Bethune MT, Siegel M, Spencer A, Khosla C. Combination enzyme therapy for gastric digestion of dietary gluten in patients with celiac sprue. Gastroenterology. 2007; 133(2):472-80.
- Szilagyi A, Shrier I, Chong G, Je JS, Park S, Heilpern D, Lalonde C, Cote LF, Lee B. Lack of effect of lactose digestion status on baseline fecal micoflora. Can J Gastroenterol. 2009; 23(11):753-9.
- Ojetti V, Gigante G, Gabrielli M, Ainora ME, Mannocci A, Lauritano EC, Gasbarrini G, Gasbarrini A. The effect of oral supplementation with Lactobacillus reuteri or tilactase in lactose intolerant patients: randomized trial. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2010; 14(3):163-70.
- Roxas M. The role of enzyme supplementation in digestive disorders. Altern Med Rev. 2008; 13(4):307-314.
- Layer P, Keller J. Lipase supplementation therapy: standards, alternatives, and perspectives. Pancreas. 2003; 26(1):1-7.