Digestive Enzymes: What Are They and How Do They Work?

What are digestive enzymes?

Digestive enzymes are chemicals produced by your body that help you digest your food. They take the form of carbohydrase, which digests carbohydrates and sugars, protease, which digests proteins, and lipose, which digests fats. They break down food into tiny nutrient particles that are absorbed into the blood through the walls of the small intestine. 


Where do you get them from?

Digestive enzymes can be found naturally in papaya, avocado, bee pollen, and miso. However, sometimes your body may not be able to produce enough which can lead to digestive issues and may indicate a need for supplementation. For example, not being able to produce enough lactase can mean you have a hard time digesting dairy products, which can lead to bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea. 


When should you take digestive enzyme supplements?

According to NIH, digestive enzyme supplements can play a role in the management of digestive disorders. If you experience uncomfortable symptoms associated with digestion, such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea, you might want to try an enzyme supplement and see if it can help. 

There are two types of enzyme supplements, prescription and over-the-counter. 

Prescription digestive enzymes are regulated by the FDA and must be prescribed by a doctor. They typically have a special coating on the pill to protect it from your stomach acid and make sure it makes it to your small intestine. 

Over-the-counter digestive supplements are not prescribed medicines and not regulated by the FDA. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the ingredients of any supplement to choose to start taking. With over-the-counter supplements, as Dr. Kyle Staller, gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital says, “It’s buyer beware.” The enzymes may come from animal pancreases, such as pigs or lambs, or from plant sources like fruit, molds, or fungi. Since they are not regulated by the FDA, you can’t be sure what amounts of enzymes these supplements contain.

Here at Binto, our digestive enzyme supplement, Digest-ease, is plant-based and vegetarian, made with zero preservatives or fillers. It was carefully created in consultation with healthcare professionals, and contains the right dosage for you, as indicated on your personalized health survey. If you are interested in trying our digestive enzyme supplement, click here to get into contact with one of our healthcare professionals.

If you have a health condition such as chronic pancreatitis or cystic fibrosis and therefore struggle to produce enough enzymes yourself, your doctor may recommend a prescription digestive enzyme supplement. An over-the-counter lactase supplement can help manage symptoms of lactose intolerance. 


What about IBS?

The research on the effectiveness of digestive enzyme supplements at relieving the symptoms of IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not conclusive, but does reveal indications of promising connections. One study found that when people who regularly experienced diarrhea after eating took digestive enzymes before eating, they experienced a reduction in their symptoms. Another study found that when people with IBS took Biointol, a combination of digestive enzymes and soluble fibers, they noticed a significant reduction in stomach discomfort, gas, and bloating. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing IBS. At Binto, we don’t typically like to give digestive enzymes to our customers with IBS. However, it is always okay to try a new supplement for a little, see if it works, and if not, just stop taking it. 

As always, it is best to consult with a doctor or one of our healthcare providers here at Binto before adding a new supplement into your routine. If you have more questions about whether taking a digestive enzyme is right for you, be sure to reach out to one of our nurses via our online chat portal!



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