What are Digestive Enzymes?
Do you ever wonder how our body breaks down the delicious sushi we eat or the ice cream we indulge in late at night? Our body has different proteins, called digestive enzymes, responsible for breaking down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to fuel our bodies. Without enzymes, our body wouldn’t absorb the nutrients it needs to survive which is the cornerstone of good health.
While digestive enzymes are produced in the pancreas and small intestine, sometimes our bodies don’t have the sufficient number of enzymes needed to actually digest food and therefore, supplementation is necessary. Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an example of a disease where individuals do not have sufficient amounts of a type of enzyme that breaks down amino acids into another compound.
This leads to an unsafe amount of phenylalanine to accumulate and can result in neurological damage or mental retardation. Even if you are consuming a nutrient-dense diet and you don’t have the enzymes to break down the food, you may be susceptible to nutrient deficiencies. Long-term nutrient deficiencies are associated with chronic diseases. This article breaks down the uses of digestive enzymes and their function in Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Uses of Digestive Enzymes
The purpose of supplementing with digestive enzymes is to improve food digestion and ultimately increase nutrient absorption so our bodies can survive. There are a variety of reasons why individuals supplement with digestive enzymes including one’s disease state or if there is an insufficient amount of naturally-present enzymes in the body. Digestive enzymes are commonly used for a variety of digestive disorders that are often linked to leaky gut. Digestive enzyme supplementation can improve adverse side effects of other digestive issues including:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Gas and bloating after meals
- Undigested food in your stool
- Acid Reflux
- Digestive Diseases
- Hypochlorhydia (low stomach acid)
- Lactose Intolerance
- Overall improvement in digestion
Why Use Digestive Enzymes to Fix Leaky Gut?
Research reveals digestive enzymes can be used to treat digestive issues including leaky gut syndrome in individuals. The leaky gut syndrome causes inflammation that disrupts part of the small intestine, specifically the gut lining. The gut lining is important because it contains the majority of digestive enzymes known as the brush-border enzymes. When these enzymes are no longer present, our body can’t efficiently break down food.
In the case of leaky gut, the gut lining is already inflammed so, it needs extra attention to heal itself. In order to repair the gut lining, we need nutrients to rebuild it. Therefore, digestive enzymes can play an important role in improving leaky gut.
Dosage of Digestive Enzymes to Fix Leaky Gut
Now, optimal nutrition is individual. It’s based on your personal lifestyle, health status, age, and genetics. So, it is important to take digestive enzymes in doses that are appropriate for you. While it is difficult to accurately define the dosage for digestive enzyme supplementation, some resources advise individuals to experiment to find what works best for you based on your symptoms and how you feel.
It is important to always look at the dose or serving size before actually taking the supplement. If you are new to digestive enzymes, it is probably better to take a broad-ranging digestive enzyme that contains a variety of enzymes; you want to look for a supplement that includes enzymes that break down protein, carbohydrates and fat. After about 60-90 minutes after consuming food and supplements, monitor how you feel.
Keep in mind that it is always a good idea to consult a doctor before taking any supplement!
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Top 5 Best Digestive Enzyme Supplements to Fix Leaky Gut
So what enzymes should you trust and how do you determine which ones work best for you? Below, we have compiled some reviews of digestive enzymes we recommend!.
By taking a variety of enzymes, it will reduce the amount of stress on the gut and can further reduce inflammation. Enzymes also help the metabolism function properly which, in effect, keep energy levels up and help our immunity. Below you will find the ranking of the best enzymes based on both customer reviews and research.
This Papaya-based enzyme improves protein digestion and reduces acid reflux side effects. This enzyme helps break down tough protein fibers that support the stomach, intestines, and pancreas reducing the amount of stress and inflammation on the organs when digesting food. This is especially important when inflammation is already present in the digestive system.
Customers rate this a 4.1 out of 5 stars, with the majority of giving it a full 5 stars. Based on customer reviews, customers are generally pleased with the product. One customer even reported Swanson Papain Papaya Enzyme helped with psoriasis after using the product. One negative critical review, however, described the product tasting as “rotten eggs”.
This used to attack candida, improving protein digestion with little to no side effects. Bromelain is a pineapple-based enzyme and is used as an anti-inflammatory agent while also supporting the immune system. By improving protein digestion, Bromelain allows the body to absorb the protein needed to heal leaky gut symptoms.
Nature’s Life Bromelain & Papain supplement has an overall customer rating of 4.1. While most customer reviews were positive, some customers reported they needed to take 2-3 to see an effect. The cost of each pill is affordable but it is worth noting that there are typically 3 meals in a day (plus snacks) so you might end up taking more than just one a day. This cost can add up over time, so, if cost is a concern, it is best to compare supplement prices to best fit your budget!
These tablets improve protein digestion in a chewable tablet that offers a fruity flavor. Studies show that Bromelain reduces inflammation in the GI tract, and ultimately reducing the amount of stress during digestion. Your body then uses the protein to heal the gut and limit intestinal leakage that occurs in leaky gut syndrome. Although there are no current reviews, this product may be a useful option for those who do not like swallowing big pills. The natural tropical flavor of this product may make it a good choice for kids, as well!
This is your “convenient on-the-go pill” that improves digestion after consuming dairy products. Lactaid’s primary function is to digest the sugar, lactose. Lactose is in dairy products, like milk, cheese and ice cream. Constant irritation of the gut due to consuming lactose can further damage gut cells for those with lactose intolerance. Taking lactase enzymes before consuming dairy products commonly helps those who are lactose-intolerant or are deficient in the enzyme lactase.
Customers rate this product as a 4.5 out of 5 stars. With over 1,000 reviews, Lactaid caplets was an effective quick fix for when you are craving a slice of pizza but not the stomach discomfort. While the enzyme has a 4.5-star rating, consumers have reported the taste as chalky. Remember, this is not a permanent solution but it is a good way to diminish side effects of consuming lactose.
Helps aids in the digestion of fats and can aid in “weight loss”. Lipase is primarily used for those who cannot break down fat effectively. Your cells need fat to function and grow. Concentrated lipase capsules can help fat digestion and, in turn, fat absorption. Lipase Concentrate from Integrative Therapeutics has the highest customer rating of 4.6 stars. Customers praised the effectiveness, size and cost of this lipase supplement. Overall, customers experiencing digestive issues highly recommend this product.
Take Away Message
Digestive enzymes are necessary for proper digestion and ultimately, nutrient absorption so our bodies can function properly especially when suffering from leaky gut. Digestive Enzyme Supplements can be an effective way to better absorb the nutrients from our diet but it is best to find out what enzymes you need.
Nutrition is individual so your needs may be different than others, making it important for you to take charge of your health and monitor your symptoms after eating. While supplements can be highly effective, they are meant to supplement your diet, not replace food in your diet!