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Benefits of Digestive Enzymes Supplements

Updated on April 22, 2013
Turtlewoman profile image

Kim is a board-certified Holistic Health Coach, Healthy Living and Cleanse Consultant, and studied under Drs. Andrew Weil and Walter Willet.


Should You Take Digestive Enzyme Supplements?

If you are suffering from symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, gas, irregularity, or heartburn, you may have an enzyme deficiency. The deeper cause is dependent upon each person's individual circumstances. However, digestive enzyme supplements may specifically alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms. They can also help you with other non-digestive related problems such as lack of energy.

You can support your health and beauty by obtaining enough digestive enzymes to help your body function efficiently. That includes:

  • Eating as much raw vegetables and fruits as possible.
  • Chew food slowly to ensure enzymes from your mouth to be released. (Yes, there are enzymes in your mouth!)
  • Eat foods that are high in probiotic and enzymes, such as raw sauerkraut.
  • Take a high quality vegetarian-based digestive enzyme supplement.

I make it a habit to take a digestive enzyme supplement before each meal.
I make it a habit to take a digestive enzyme supplement before each meal. | Source

For the majority of us, we eat foods that are cooked, such as sauteed vegetables and boiled potatoes. We may try our best to eat raw salads and fruit smoothies, but realistically most of our foods are cooked at high temperatures. Cooking foods kills up to 75% of the naturally occurring enzymes!

This is where digestive enzyme supplements come in. By taking a supplement before each meal, you are essentially replacing some of those missing enzymes.

But what do digestive enzyme supplements have to do with increased energy? Keep on reading because this article will explain it all!

What are the sources of enzymes?

Enzymes are classified into three categories: DIGESTIVE ENZYMES, FOOD ENZYMES, and METABOLIC ENZYMES.

Metabolic enzymes occur throughout your organs. Let's focus on the two enzymes that are associated with our digestive system, which has one major function: TO HELP DIGEST FOOD!

  • Your digestive organs produce digestive enzymes.

  • The foods you eat contain natural enzymes, which can be obtained 100% if eaten raw.

Raw vegetables contain natural food enzymes.
Raw vegetables contain natural food enzymes. | Source

Understanding Role of Enzymes in the Body

In order to fully understand the benefits of digestive enzyme supplements, you need to understand exactly what enzymes do in our body.

We have many different enzymes in our body! I will give you a quick biology tutorial, and discuss only the digestive enzymes. However, for more in depth information, read up on Dr. Barbara Bradley Bolen's discussion.

  • Enzymes are important proteins in your body's cells. They are catalysts that help speed up every chemical reactions in your body. Without them, you will not be able to breathe, swallow, or eat, or digest food.
  • Enzymes are classified into three categories.
  • All of the minerals and vitamins you eat and all of the hormones your body produces need enzymes in order to work properly. That means your energy level, your ability to utilize vitamins and minerals, and even your immune system are dependent on enzymes.

The path of food. Your  ultimate health and beauty depends greatly on how efficiently your digestive system works.
The path of food. Your ultimate health and beauty depends greatly on how efficiently your digestive system works. | Source

Beauty Starts From Within!

Kimberly Snyder, a nutritionist and author of “The Beauty Detox Solution,” also advocates taking one digestive enzyme a day before eating cooked food, in addition to drinking Glowing Green Smoothie daily. “Enzymes are one of the secrets to longevity,” she mentions on her health blog.

Let's Take a Look at Enzymes for Digestion...

In the "perfectly operated" body, you slowly chew enzyme-rich foods, such as raw vegetables and fruits. The food would enter the stomach laced with digestive enzymes, which helps to "predigest" your food.

Particularly, digestive enzymes help break down the foods that you eat, and help move nutrients to where your body most needs them.

Hydrochloric acid then inactivates all of the enzymes, and starts to break down the rest of the meal.

This nutrient rich food concentrate continues on into the small intestine, where it is broken down further by more digestive enzymes. The end of digestion is completed when nutrients are passed through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream.

Unfortunately, our body isn't perfect and there are factors that affects this process!

  1. Cooking process destroys enzymes in food. When food is cooked at a temperature of 120 degrees, it destroys virtually all enzymes. For most of us, this means that the vibrant and colorful vegetables that you eat are severely deficient in important enzymes.
  2. As we age, we lose some of those "enzyme reserves." One of the reasons may be a lifestyle problem associated with poor diet.

Not convinced yet? Try this experiment!

There is an easy experiment you can do to see the benefit of taking enzyme supplements!

  1. Prepare two bowls of instant oatmeal.
  2. Crush 2-3 digestive enzyme capsules into one of the bowls.
  3. Wait about 30 minutes.

You will notice that the bowl with the digestive enzyme will look "watery," which means that it has been digested. The untreated bowl will look lumpy, sticky, just like how oatmeal normally looks. The concept here is that the oatmeal that has been "predigested" will have an easier time getting through your system. This equals to less stress and effort on your digestive system.

Benefits of Taking Digestive Enzymes Supplements

You can also experience a number of short term benefits when taking digestive enzyme supplements.

Please be cognizant of the claims on the internet- digestive enzymes should not be used as a weight loss tool.

  • Decrease in indigestion and heartburn problems resulting from too much acid in the stomach.
  • Relief from bloating and gas.
  • Alleviates food allergies.
  • Alleviates flatulence.
  • Increase in energy levels. (Efficient digestion of food is a very consuming task!)
  • Relief from ulcers.

Look for vegetable-based digestive enzymes that contain the following:

Digest protein
Digest carbohydrates and starches
Digest fats
Breaks down fiber cellulose
Digest dairy products
Digest protein

Where Can You Buy Digestive Enzymes

You can typically find digestive enzyme supplements being sold in a pill format, that contains all the different enzymes. The more enzymes you add to your digestive system, the more efficiently it will work.

I recommend buying a vegetable-based digestive enzyme that contains all the different enzymes listed in the table.

These aren't the same enzymes that humans produce during normal digestion. However many of them serve similar functions. They serve as a "predigesting tool," which can only help you digest food more efficiently.


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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Kim, this is real interesting to know. Very helpful and useful.

    • Sharicey profile image

      Sharice 4 years ago from Rhode Island

      I'm going to have to try the brand featured in your hub after I'm done with my Jarrow Formulas capsules. I find that those are hard to swallow. I'm not good at swallowing pills and I'm not sure if there really effective. Anyway enough about me! Great hub!

    • Turtlewoman profile image

      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      Thanks Marcy for your vote!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      This is so interesting - and so helpful to those of us who sometimes feel our systems are messed up from a lack of balance. I've tried natural yogurt before, and it really does help, by the way. Voted up and up.

    • Turtlewoman profile image

      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      Thanks prasonline, your coments are much appreciated.

      Hi Nettlemere! While both probiotics and enzymes are needed to support your digestive system, they are both different in terms of function and composition. Probiotics are "live" friendly bacteria that help BALANCE the bad and good ones in your stomach. However, they don't break down the foods that you eat so you can absorb all those nutrients. (That is solely the role of digestive enzymes) Probiotics are found in yogurts and fermented food...and they are beneficial to your digestive system too so it's good to take both! (I do!) Thanks for the great comment! :-)

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Interesting and well explained. I hadn't come across the idea of pure enzyme supplements before, but have noticed a proliferation of probiotic yogurts and drinks in the UK which I think are supposed to serve a similar function.

    • prasonline profile image

      Prasanna Marlin 5 years ago from Sri lanka

      Great article! explaining Benefits of Digestive Enzymes Supplements

      Very Interesting! thanks for sharing this! Voted up