We’ve all heard the old saying, “you are what you eat,” but that only holds true if you actually absorb the nutrients contained in everything on your plate. In order to fully benefit from your healthy food choices, your body needs to have just the right digestive enzymes on board.
Discover the ins and outs of digestive enzymes and how to choose the best supplement for your healthy lifestyle.
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
Digestive enzymes are specific proteins your digestive system releases to chemically take apart large food molecules so that you can properly absorb the nutrients you’ve just eaten. These enzymes fall into three major categories:
• Amylases and Glucosidases: For breaking down complex carbs into simple sugars
• Lipases: For breaking down fats into fatty acids and glycerol
• Proteases: For breaking down proteins in peptides and amino acids
Your body actually makes many of its own digestive enzymes, but you can also get them from certain foods. Here are just a few:
• Pineapple: Tropical pineapple is rich in bromelain (a protease) for efficient protein digestion.1
• Bananas: This fruit is a good source of both amylases and glucosidases for carbohydrate digestion. These enzymes begin breaking down starch into sugar as each banana ripens, which is why ripe bananas taste sweeter than green ones.2
• Raw honey: Honey contains lots of different digestive enzymes that are helpful with carbohydrates, sugars, and proteins—but only when it’s raw.3 High temperatures destroy these enzymes, so processed honey (which is often heated) may not offer the same digestive benefit.
• Ripe, raw papaya: Papaya contains papain, a protease enzyme, which can be destroyed by heat.4 Papain breaks down protein so well that it’s often used as a meat tenderizer.
• Avocados: Not only are avocados rich in healthy fat, they’re also a great source of the digestive enzyme lipase—which aids in the digestion of fats.5
• Miso: This fermented soybean paste delivers a nice variety of enzymes including proteases, amylases, and lipases.6
Are Digestive Enzyme Supplements Really Necessary?
Although your body manufactures digestive enzymes as part of the natural digestive process and you ingest additional helpful enzymes with many wholesome foods, it can still be very helpful to reach for some extra enzymatic support by adding a clean, sustainable supplement like 42Nutrition Digestive Enzymes to your diet.
As we get older (starting at about age 30) our production of the enzymes we need for proper digestion begins to decline.7,8 Then, to complicate things, there are a number of additional factors that can reduce digestive enzyme production—and some of these are difficult to avoid in today’s world.9 These factors may include:
• Too little or too much exercise
• Excessive alcohol, caffeine, sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods
This important food molecule breakdown helps you efficiently absorb all the valuable nutrients you eat, and encourages your microbial health so your belly stays comfortable and regular—especially if your supplement also contains a prebiotic to keep your friendly gut bacteria happy. Ultimately, this combination of great nutrition for you and your gut microbes supports digestion and overall well-being so you’ll stay on top of your game at any age.
Choosing Your Digestive Enzymes
When shopping for a digestive enzyme supplement it’s important to be aware that all products aren’t created equal. Some contain all kinds of questionable additives and fillers—and may not even be formulated with enough enzymes to make a real difference. Read labels carefully to make sure your supplement contains truly effective, naturally derived enzymes like amylase, glucoamylase, lipase, protease, invertase, maltase, cellulose, bromelain, lactase, and papain. To fully benefit from digestive enzyme supplementation, opt for an ethically sourced, vegan, non-GMO blend of targeted enzymes like 42Nutrition’s, that also includes an inulin prebiotic as well as whole foods that support digestion such as fennel, peppermint, turmeric, sea vegetables, pectin, and papaya. It should also be free of unnecessary additives, gluten, dairy, soy, yeast, and sugar—and be GMP complaint, independently tested, ethically sourced, and sustainably packaged. When you supplement with high quality digestive enzymes you get more from every smart nutritional and lifestyle choice you make. And knowing you’re getting your supplements from a clean, simple, and ethical company only adds to the enthusiastic sense of well-being that always accompanies digestive wellness.
1. Pavan, R., Jain, S., Shraddha, & Kumar, A. (2012). Properties and Therapeutic Application of Bromelain: A Review. Biotechnology Research International, 2012, 1-6. doi:10.1155/2012/976203
2. Garcia, E., & Lajolo, F. M. (1988). Starch Transformation During Banana Ripening: The Amylase and Glucosidase Behavior. Journal of Food Science, 53(4), 1181-1186. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.1988.tb13557.x
3. Rossano, R., Larocca, M., Polito, T., Perna, A. M., Padula, M. C., Martelli, G., & Riccio, P. (2012). What Are the Proteolytic Enzymes of Honey and What They Do Tell Us? A Fingerprint Analysis by 2-D Zymography of Unifloral Honeys. PLoS ONE, 7(11), e49164. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049164
4. Papain - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/papain
5. E Levine, M., Koch, S. Y., & L Koch, K. (2015). Lipase Supplementation before a High-Fat Meal Reduces Perceptions of Fullness in Healthy Subjects. Gut and Liver, 9(4), 464. doi:10.5009/gnl14005
6. Chancharoonpong, C., Hsieh, P., & Sheu, S. (2012). Enzyme Production and Growth of Aspergillus oryzae S. on Soybean Koji Fermentation. APCBEE Procedia, 2, 57-61. doi:10.1016/j.apcbee.2012.06.011
7. Laugier, R., Bernard, J., Berthezene, P., & Dupuy, P. (1991). Changes in Pancreatic Exocrine Secretion with Age: Pancreatic Exocrine Secretion Does Decrease in the Elderly. Digestion, 50(3-4), 202-211. doi:10.1159/000200762
8. Rémond, D., Shahar, D. R., Gille, D., Pinto, P., Kachal, J., Peyron, M., … Vergères, G. (2015). Understanding the gastrointestinal tract of the elderly to develop dietary solutions that prevent malnutrition. Oncotarget, 6(16). doi:10.18632/oncotarget.4030
9. Ash, M. (2017). Digestive Enzymes | Clinical Education. Retrieved from https://www.clinicaleducation.org/news/digestive-enzymes/