When to Take Digestive Enzyme Supplements with Food & The Top 5 Benefits
Are you experiencing troubling digestive issues or stomach problems? Perhaps you could benefit from taking stomach enzyme supplements, as they may alleviate stomach noise and pain. This article will give you an overview of digestive enzyme and the role they play in promoting gut health. We will also provide specific information on how these digestive aid supplements can boost your digestive health.
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
Enzymes for digestion are complex proteins that play a key role in helping the body to break down food. These proteins break the food down into smaller pieces so that the body is able to absorb it. While the pancreas creates most digestive enzymes, multiple organs including the pancreas, stomach, and small intestine, produce digestive enzymes. Not only that, but your saliva also has digestive enzyme in it too. In addition to different enzymes being released by different body areas, it is also important to note that different types of digestive enzymes will target different nutrients to break down.
Here are a few different types of digestive enzymes:
Each of these has a different role, assisting in breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. By targeting and breaking down different nutrients, these enzyme help the body to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from food and beverages. However, it is important to note that digestive enzymes are not only created by your body. In fact, you can take digestive aid supplements that contain either one or a combination of different enzymes for digestion. Some of the best digestive enzyme supplements are available for purchase at your local drugstore or even online.
What You Should Know Before Taking Digestive Aid Supplements
As we said above, digestive and stomach enzymes are proteins. Because of this, many digestive aid supplements are highly likely to be broken down by the stomach and not survive digestion, as the stomach is both highly acidic and the main site of protein digestion. As a result of this, you need to make sure that you are purchasing a supplement that will survive in the stomach. Below are two digestive aid supplements that are backed up with research:
Lactase helps individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and lactose intolerance. Being lactose intolerant means that the body does not produce adequate levels of lactase to digest lactose, a sugar that is found in dairy products. Therefore, taking a lactase supplement before dairy consumption can help with the digestion of milk sugars.
Alpha-Galactosidase can help reduce bloating and gas that is caused by eating certain vegetables. This enzyme helps with this by breaking down some of the oligosaccharides that are found in these types of foods.
When to Take Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Digestive enzymes play a vital role in the digestive process. They help to break down foods so the body can absorb the nutrients more effectively. Such nutrients include fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
However, it is important to note that if you take your digestive enzyme supplements at the wrong time of the day, they may not work as effectively as they could. Some people think that taking digestive aid supplements first thing in the morning is the best option, as they believe it will last throughout the day. But depending on the purpose, this may be ineffective.
For instance, taking a supplement to help the body digest food when there is no food to digest is simply a waste. Therefore, your supplement should always be taken with a meal. For example, if you have a dairy intolerance, you should take a lactase supplement right before consuming dairy products. The same applies when you take a digestive enzyme supplement to reduce gas after consuming certain vegetables.
Natural Digestive Enzyme Sources
If your body is not making enough digestive enzymes, it simply cannot digest food properly. This can result in diarrhea, stomach aches, and gas, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Here are some foods that are great natural sources of digestive enzymes.
- Raw Honey
- Fermented Cabbage
Best Digestive Enzyme Supplements for IBS
If you experience IBS symptoms, your doctor should be able to recommend a treatment plan for you. However, you may want to try out digestive enzyme supplements to help ease the symptoms too. Like many people with IBS, you have probably scoured the internet for relief.
Digestive enzyme supplements may help alleviate some of your IBS symptoms. But, how?
Digestive enzyme supplements often claim to:
- Promote Healthy Digestion
- Reduce Gas and Bloating
- Help Body to Digest Foods
- Reduce Constipation
- Support Colon Health
Through these claims, digestive enzyme supplements may help alleviate common symptoms of IBS, like diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating. This could be achieved by the supplements helping the body to break down food more effectively.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
A person usually experiences EPI when another health condition damages the pancreas. Some of the common causes of EPI are
- Inflammation of Pancreas
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Cystic Fibrosis
To help manage your EPI, your doctor may recommend taking a pancreatic enzyme supplement to help support your digestion and replace missing enzymes your damaged pancreas is unable to provide.
Best Digestive Enzyme Supplements for Dairy Intolerance
Some digestive disorders prevent the body from making enough digestive enzymes. For instance, lactose intolerance is when the body does not make enough lactase. Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down the sugar in milk (lactose). The lactose in dairy products then travels straight down into the colon instead of getting absorbed, which creates a series of uncomfortable symptoms.
The 3 Types of Lactose Intolerance
Primary is the most common type of lactose intolerance and results with age. Babies require lactase to break down their mother’s milk, but as they age, reliance on milk typically decreases, and with it, lactase. This is a gradual change and quite common, especially in those with Asian, Hispanic, and African ancestry, cultures that don’t traditionally consume a lot of dairy in their diets.
Secondary is when the small intestine does not make enough lactase, as a result of an injury, surgery, or illness. Diseases like celiac disease and IBD can cause such damage. When the underlying disorder or issue is treated, lactase levels may be restored.
Developmental or Congenital is a type of lactose intolerance that has to be inherited from both parents.
In this case, a baby is born lactose intolerant because of a gene mutation that prevents proper lactase production. This is a very serious and rare condition, as they baby will be unable to break down breast milk or traditional formula. Instead, they must be fed a special lactose-free formula.
While someone who is lactose intolerant can alleviate their symptoms by limiting their consumption of dairy, they may also wish to consume dairy products while taking a digestive enzyme supplement to avoid the negative side effects. A supplement like Lactaid that contains high amounts of lactase is required.
The Bottom Line
Overall, not all digestive enzyme supplements are the same. Depending on the outcome you want to achieve, you will need to consider which type you should be consuming. For example, you should consider which symptoms you are looking to avoid or reduce. Nonetheless, the good news is that there is hope to decrease or even alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms you are experiencing, while working to address the root causes of your enzyme deficiency when possible.