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Digestive Enzymes

Updated on July 1, 2016

Digestive Enzymes are basic to good health

Amylase is the first step to good digestion
Amylase is the first step to good digestion

Why are enzymes important to health?

Enzymes are in every living cell. They are catalysts that aid in many biochemical reactions in the body and encourage cellular health. They are fundamental elements for facilitating digestion, absorption, transportation and elimination. Increasing digestive enzyme intake is essential in boosting your metabolism and immune system; this is possible by eating more raw foods.

“Evidence supports experience of healers for thousands of years – raw foods are essential for health.”

~ Ronald Schmid, N.D., author of Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine.


Enzymes are activated in water so it is important to avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. Supplemental digestive enzymes can provide an extra boost to your metabolism and repair a worn out system more quickly than changing to raw foods alone.


The pancreas is the source of 50% of enzymes needed for proper digestion. These are the most frequent symptoms of deficient digestive enzymes in your body – bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, insatiable cravings, inflammation, and nausea.


Adding fermented foods to your diet like sauerkraut or kim chee, and beverages like kombucha (a fermented fungus tea) or kefir (soured milk drink) can increase your body's own enzyme production. These all have natural enzymes and create a healthy bacterial flora in the gut. This balances out the digestive system and can alleviating these debilitating symptoms. Consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables can also boost enzyme intake; pineapple and papaya are both strong sources.


Some enzymes can be found in over-the-counter supplements. Many nutraceutical companies use animal sources (pepsin, lipase) such as pigs and oxen; while others are concentrated from plant material (amylase, protease). It is a good idea to find a supplement with a broad spectrum of enzymes to reap the full benefits of enzyme therapy.

Bromelian is a plant-based enzyme found in pineapple; it has been found to be a very effective treatment for many digestive issues and is a proven anti-inflammatory.

Papaya enzyme, also known as papain, is another commonly used and valuable digestive aid. It has even been shown to break down wheat gluten and prevent harm to coeliac sufferers.

Protein digesting enzymes such as pancreatin (combination of amylase, lipase and protease) are sourced from animals and used in the medical community for treating diseases such as cystic fibrosis and inflammatory or autoimmune diseases. These are helpful for a sluggish pancreas, and assist in repairing cellular stresses the organ can go through.

  • Amylase is necessary for breaking down carbohydrates and starches.

  • Lipase is needed for breaking down fats, triglycerides in particular. These are required for proper intestinal absorption of nutrients.

  • Protease is responsible for the digestion of proteins, which are very hard to assimilate.

Dr. Mercola speaks on Enzyme Therapy


Protease, amylase, lipase, cellulase and lactase all break down food into small components so the body can extract various nutrients from the food and use them to build tissue and maintain health.

Now researchers have found that bromelain — an enzyme derived from pineapple stems — might be able to reduce inflammation in IBD.

Medical Discoveries


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