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Benefits of Digestive Enzymes

Updated on November 3, 2013

Enzymes in our digestive system are what breaks down food so that they can be assimilated into the body.

  • Lipases break down fat
  • Amylases break down carbohydrates
  • Proteases break down proteins

However, for some people for whatever reason, the digestive enzymes may no longer be as effective as they ought to be or when they were younger. This is especially true if they have any kind of food sensitivity or autoimmune conditions.

When food are not broken down completely, the partially digested food particles can slip past the intestinal barrier into the bloodstream, especially if there is a "leaky gut" condition. This "leaky gut" syndrome is actually quite common and is characterized by increased intestinal permeability.

The immune systems see these food particles in the bloodstream and sounds an alarm. These are not supposed to be in the bloodstream. Only completely broken down food that are in their elemental components such as amino acids are supposed to be in the bloodstream. This causes inflammation and food sensitivity issues and sets up the condition for autoimmune diseases.

The job of the immune system is to look for particular sequences of amino acids in proteins that it believes to be foreign and tag it for attack with antibodies. This is fine if that sequence is the protein of a virus or bacteria cell wall. This is how it kills these pathogens.

The problem is when food particles are coming into the bloodstream and the immune system is attacking the proteins in those food particles. This is when food sensitivities occurs.

It gets worse. If the sequence of amino acids that the immune system is looking for somewhat matches the sequence of amino acids in parts of your own tissue (say the thyroid tissue), then you got an autoimmune condition where the immune system is attacking own self.

That is why it is important that all food protein and all amino acid sequences are broken down completely into free amino acids. This is the job of the proteases enzymes.

So to ensure that food is completely broken down into its constituent parts especially in the presence of digestive insufficiency, taking a digestive enzymes with meals may help. For those with food sensitivity or autoimmune condition, look for digestive enzymes high in proteases. Because you don't want to have those long sequences of amino acids triggering your immune system.

Enzymedica has a good video explaining digestive enzymes ...

Enzymedica makes a variety of digestive enzymes, one of which is Digest Gold. They have one that also contain probiotics. And they have Gluten Ease which is a digestive enzyme that also helps digest gluten and casein for those who are gluten and/or casein sensitive.

For those who are gluten and/or casein sensitive, you want something with DPP IV Activity that helps break down gluten. Short of that, look for enzymes that contain a lot of protease that helps break down protein. Because gluten is a protein in wheat. And casein is a protein in dairy,.

Digest Spectrum by Enzymedica is a high potency digestive enzyme for people with food sensitivities. It contains DPP IV and high protease enzymes to digest proteins people are sensitive to. See spec sheet here. It has one of the highest amounts of DPP IV and protease amounts in a digestive supplement.

It contains no egg, soy, dairy, casein, corn, rice, potatoes, gluten, wheat, yeast, nut, salt, sugar, or artificial colorings and preservatives. Hence it is good for people with multiple food sensitivities.

Raw Food Enzymes

Another way to preserve your enzyme ability is to eat raw foods in the form of vegetables and fruits. Except do not eat raw potatoes nor raw mushrooms. They must be cooked.

Raw vegetables have their own natural enzymes that helps auto-digest the food. So it lessens the burden on the pancreas.

Dr. Mercola writes ...

"Fortunately, you get (or should be getting) many enzymes from the foods you consume—particularly, raw foods. These directly help with your digestive process. The more raw foods you eat, the lower the burden on your body to produce the enzymes it needs ..."

The pancreas makes both digestive enzymes and metabolic enzymes. So if you lessen its burden on having to make digestive enzymes, it can spend more time making metabolic enzymes which regulates the metabolism of your cells.

Trips on Buying Digestive Enzymes

Get enzymes that are pharmaceutical grade rather than "commercial enzymes". Get ones without all the fillers.

To see the strength of the enzymes, you have to understand the units of measurement that are on the labels. Usually they are in units defined by the Food Chemical Codex. Typical ones are ...

HUT (Hemoglobin Unit Tyrosine base) measures the amount of protease activity of the enzyme.

DU (Alpha-amylase Dextrinizing units) measures the amount of amylase activity.

FIP measures the amount of lipase activity.

CU (Cellulase unit) measures amount of Cellulase activity.

IAU (Invertase Activity unit) measures the amount of Invertase activity.

LacU (Lactase unit) measures the amount of Lactase activity.

DP (degrees Diastatic power) measures the amount Maltase activity.

Lecture on Clinical Use of Probiotics, Stomach Acid & Pancreatic Enzymes

Dr. Michael Wald talks about the Clinical Uses of Probiotics, Stomach Acid & Pancreatic Enzymes in the below presentation. He says that one way to take digestive enzymes is to take it right before meals with a glass of water so that you can wash the enzymes into the small intestines before the stomach acid digest it.

The one by Douglas Labs called Ultrazyme contains Lipase, Amylase, and Protease. But it also has Bromelain, Ox bile, L-Lysine Hydrocholoride, and Pepsin. See datasheet.

Renew Life produces a variety of "DigestMore" digestive enzymes. They contains the usual plant-based digestive enzymes of protease, lipase and amylase.

The DigestMore Ultra has a really high 100,000 units of protease per serving.

They also have one for "Sensitive Stomach" (see details here) which also has Bromelain and L-Glutamine which is good for the digestive linings.

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