Digestive Enzymes: A Beginner’s Guide to Improving Gut Health


Are you struggling with gut issues like bloating, gas, or indigestion? You’re not alone. Poor digestion affects millions of people worldwide. Fortunately, digestive enzymes offer a natural solution to these problems. They’re proteins that break down food into smaller components, making nutrients more accessible for absorption.

Our bodies naturally produce digestive enzymes in the mouth, stomach, and intestines. However, age, diet, and certain medical conditions can lead to enzyme deficiencies. Supplementing with digestive enzymes can help fill this gap.

Types of Digestive Enzymes

There are different types of digestive enzymes, each targeting specific food components:

  • Proteases break down proteins into amino acids.
  • Lipases break down fats into fatty acids.
  • Amylases break down carbohydrates into simple sugars.

A quality digestive enzyme supplement contains a blend of all these enzymes, ensuring optimal digestion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Benefits of Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes offer numerous advantages, such as:

Improved Digestion

The primary benefit of digestive enzymes is they can help you get your stomach comfort back by improving digestion and nutrient absorption. With sufficient enzymes, your body can break down food more efficiently, which can help reduce symptoms like bloating, gas, and indigestion after meals.

Relief from Food Intolerances

Some people lack enough enzymes to fully digest certain foods, such as lactose in milk and gluten in wheat and other grains. Taking supplements with the right digestive enzymes can help break these problematic foods down properly. This may allow you to eat foods that previously gave you discomfort or other intolerance symptoms without issues.

Boosted Nutrient Absorption

If your body doesn’t break down food properly, it can’t absorb all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from that food very well. Digestive enzymes help optimize this process, enabling you to get the full nutritional benefits from the foods you eat in your diet.

Reduced Inflammation

Bad digestion can cause inflammation (swelling) in the lining of your gut, leading to bigger health problems over time. Digestive enzymes help reduce this inflammation by improving how well your body breaks down food, and better digestion means less swelling in your gut.

Finest Sources of Digestive Enzymes

Our bodies make some digestive enzymes on their own. But you may need to get more enzymes from your foods or supplements. Great foods with digestive enzymes include:


  • Pineapple and papaya (bromelain and papain enzymes)
  • Mango (amylase enzymes)
  • Kiwi (actinidain enzymes)
  • Ginger (zingibain enzymes)
  • Avocados (lipase enzymes)
  • Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut (various enzymes)

Many people take over-the-counter enzyme supplements from the store for a bigger boost of enzymes. These supplements contain concentrated amounts of different enzymes blended. The enzymes in the supplements are made to help with different digestive needs but it’s important to carefully follow the dosage instructions on the supplement bottle.

How to Take Digestive Enzymes

Take digestive enzymes before eating or with the first few bites of your meal for best results. That way, they can break down your food as soon as you digest it.

If you take any prescription medications, take them at least 2 hours before or after taking your enzymes. Some enzymes can interact with certain drugs.

You also want to start with a low dose and only increase it if needed. Taking too many enzymes at first can sometimes cause gas or loose stools until your body gets used to them. Most importantly, be patient — it may take several weeks to notice improvements like better nutrient absorption from your food.

Making Enzymes Work Better

There are a few tricks to maximizing the effects of digestive enzymes:


  • Stay hydrated: Enzymes work best in a water-rich environment.
  • Go easy on sugary, fatty foods: These require more enzymes to break down properly.
  • Consider adding an acid like apple cider vinegar: This mimics stomach acid that activates enzymes.
  • Chew thoroughly: The digestive process begins in the mouth. More chewing produces more enzymes.

Safety and Side Effects

Enzymes from food sources like fruits and vegetables are generally considered safe. However, high-potency supplements may potentially cause side effects in some individuals. These may include:

  • Excess gas or bloating initially
  • Nausea or stomach upset
  • Diarrhea or loose stools

Most side effects are mild and subside as your body adjusts to higher enzyme intake. Severe or persistent issues should be discussed with your doctor.

Unlocking Better Digestion Naturally

Overall, digestive enzymes offer a natural way to enjoy your favorite foods more fully. Whether you opt for dietary sources, over-the-counter products, or a combination, better digestion means you can look forward to flavorful BBQs without dreading the aftermath.

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