Enzymes help break down food into absorbable particles for your body to use. If you’re not digesting food properly, it can trigger inflammation and discomfort in your gut.
If you’re digesting your food properly, you will absorb nutrients better.
Luckily, there is a vast array of supplemental enzymes that you can take to digest practically any type of food. Below, you’ll read about specific enzymes that you can take to digest specific foods and improve your gut health.
The Best Enzymes To Take
1. Glucoamylase (For Potatoes and Grains)
This enzyme digests the glucose in starch found in grains, potatoes, and vegetables. Your body produces glucoamylase in your mouth and pancreas to liberate and absorb the simple glucose molecules from the complex chains they are bound to in starch.
Research has evidenced that glucoamylase supplementation does indeed improve starch absorption†. More glucose was absorbed into the blood because of the glucoamylase enzyme 1.
2. Phytase (For Digesting Nuts)
Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient found in plant foods, especially in nuts and legumes (like peanuts and beans). Phytic acid can interfere with the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and starch.
Fortunately, the enzyme phytase does improve digestion and the breakdown of phytic acid so that nutritional components from nuts can be more easily digested 2†.
Almonds and peanuts are very high in phytic acid so taking phytase with these foods can help with digestion†.
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3. Protease (For Digesting Meat)
After you eat food, your body breaks down proteins into their individual components, amino acids. Proteases break down these proteins so that you can assimilate amino acids.
Because of this improved assimilation, researchers suggest that proteases can help relieve the symptoms of “various digestive disorders” 3†.
Proteases are also used commercially to tenderize meat, to make it softer and easier to eat 4
4. Lipase (For Digesting Oils and Butter)
Whether you’re eating olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, or fish, lipase can help process and properly absorb the fats in these foods.
If your body is not absorbing fats, your bowel movements might leave oily residues, and you won’t get the benefits of absorbing healthy fats. After all, you need fat to generate hormones and build brain tissue†.
If your pancreas is not producing enough lipase and you're not absorbing fats, lipase supplementation is the standard therapy 5†. Evidence has shown that lipase supplementation reduces the uncomfortable fullness that results from digestive stress after high-fat meals 6†.
5. Xylanase (For Digesting Wheat)
This enzyme breaks down hemicellulose, one of the main cell wall components from plants.
As a result of taking xylanase, you can more easily assimilate the nutrients found inside plant cells. And research has shown that xylanase supplementation does indeed improve nutrient absorption 7†. Xylanase can improve the digestion of wheat and decrease cellular damage and stress in the digestive tract 8†.
6. Lactase (For Digesting Cheese or Milk)
So many of us are lactose intolerant or have trouble digesting dairy products. It’s estimated that around 75% of the world’s population doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase that helps digest the lactose sugar in milk 10. In these cases, lactose is not absorbed, and causes discomfort and pain in the digestive tract.
7. Aspergillopepsin (For Digesting Wheat)
Researchers say this enzyme has the ability to “detoxify” gluten (a protein found in wheat and barley) 12†. As you probably know, many people are allergic or have digestive troubles caused by gluten. Researchers hope that further studies can prove that this enzyme can relieve the symptoms of people with gluten intolerance 12†.
8. Bromelain (For Digestive Distress in General)
Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple that can digest protein and take down inflammation and discomfort in the gut†
In a clinical trial, an enzyme supplement that included bromelain led to “symptomatic improvements in pain, flatulence and stool frequency” 13†. Researchers say additional evidence shows that bromelain has been “administered successfully as a digestive enzyme to [address] intestinal disorders” 13†.
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