When you ingest food, it enters your digestive tract and your body gets to work breaking it down into absorbable nutrients. Part of this digestive process requires proteins known as digestive enzymes.
Your body produces a range of digestive enzymes naturally but you can also take them as supplements. Taking exogenous enzymes can be helpful if you suffer from a digestive disorder that reduces your body’s ability to naturally create these important enzymes.
Supplements may also be helpful if you experience a lot of digestive discomfort after eating. This is a common symptom in conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
In this article, we’re going to cover:
- What digestive enzymes are
- How digestive enzymes work
- How to take digestive enzymes
- Whether digestive enzymes are a natural gas relief remedy
- What you can take instead of digestive enzymes to stop bloating
- The best digestive enzymes to tackle IBS and bloating
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
Digestive enzymes are a range of proteins that speed up your digestion. Without them, your digestive system wouldn’t be able to efficiently break down food into its constituent nutrients. These enzymes are produced in multiple areas of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the intestine to the pancreas (all of which are known as exocrine organs or glands).
It’s not just humans who produce digestive enzymes, either. Plants and fungi also produce their very own sets of digestive enzymes!
There are four main types of digestive enzymes, each of which targets a specific type of nutrient.
- Amylases, such as salivary amylase, pancreatic amylase, and lactase, metabolise carbohydrates into simple sugars, like glucose and maltose
- Proteases (e.g.- pepsin and trypsin) break down proteins
- Lipases split fat molecules into fatty acids and glycerol
- Nuclease enzymes are required to split nucleic acids into their constituent nucleotides
The small intestines also produce an important hormone called cholecystokinin, which is responsible for stimulating the secretion of more pancreatic digestive enzymes and bile.
How Do Digestive Enzymes Work?
Both endogenous digestive enzymes (those that your body produces naturally) or exogenous enzymes (those that you take in via supplements) have the same mode of action. The enzymes speed up the biochemical reactions that metabolise food into smaller components.
Your digestive enzymes get to work as soon as food enters your mouth. Alongside the mechanical breakdown of ingested food via the grinding action of your teeth, enzymes in your saliva break down the food even further.
Salivary digestive enzymes split up the large food particles in your mouth into smaller particles that can be more easily swallowed. Once the food enters the lower part of the digestive tract, a range of digestive enzymes spilt the food up into minute particles that can be transported across the intestinal wall.
Different nutrients are absorbed in different areas of the digestive tract but it’s predominantly the small intestines that transport nutrients from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.
Digestive Enzymes Supplements
You can get supplements that contain just one specific type of digestive enzyme. This is ideal if you have a medical condition that causes your body to produce insufficient amounts of a particular enzyme.
There are also supplements that contain a combination of several different digestive enzymes. They are ideal if you suffer from IBS and bloating or you want a natural gas relief remedy.
Taking a supplement is often necessary if you have a condition known as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). When you have EPI, your pancreas doesn’t produce enough of its own digestive enzymes. Supplementing with exogenous digestive enzymes will minimize the risk of nutritional deficiencies, bloating, and digestive discomfort.
Many people choose to take digestive enzymes with probiotics for bloating and gas relief. They’re suitable for individuals with digestive disorders but may also benefit you if your digestive function is optimal.
Are Digestive Enzymes Good for Bloating?
If you suffer from IBS and bloating, you might be wondering whether digestive enzymes would be helpful to relieve your symptoms. You’ll be happy to hear that digestive enzymes are a great gas relief remedy and can support your digestive health.
Digestive enzymes have been shown to improve digestion and improve metabolic efficiency, which can stop bloating and minimize gas production. They can also aid in the absorption of food by breaking down food particles into smaller particles that can easily pass through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream.
Because digestive enzymes can improve the breakdown and absorption of food and nutrients, they can reduce the risk of constipation. They may also boost your gut health by fuelling the bugs in your gut.
Should Everybody Take Digestive Enzymes?
While digestive enzymes are an effective supplement for bloating relief in many people, they aren’t the only option. It’s important to identify the root cause of your bloating and digestive discomfort before you start taking any supplement, natural remedy, or medication.
You might find that digestive enzymes aren’t effective at reducing your digestive symptoms, as is often the case when the symptoms are caused by an underlying medical condition. If you suspect that your digestive discomfort and bloating is due to a deeper issue, speak with your doctor. They have the tools and expertise to diagnose and treat various digestive disorders.
You should also consult your doctor if you’re not sure whether a new product is suitable for your digestive health based on your medical history. Some digestive enzymes and probiotics for bloating can interact with certain medications, reducing their efficacy. Your doctor will know whether or not your current medications are unsuitable to mix with digestive enzymes.
Remember that taking any supplement comes with a risk, be it small or large. With digestive enzymes, the risk of adverse reactions is relatively low. However, some people can experience abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhoea, and constipation.
Digestive Enzyme Deficiencies
Individuals with deficiencies in certain digestive enzymes can benefit from taking a digestive enzyme supplement. Deficiencies can be caused by a number of medical conditions and may result from surgeries on the digestive organs.
Genetics also contributes to your digestive enzyme levels. For example, a portion of the population is deficient in lactase, which is the digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose, the sugar found in milk. This causes what we all know as lactose intolerance.
While lactose intolerance might not always warrant the need for digestive enzyme supplements, you might find them helpful. If you enjoy milk-based products and don’t want to cut them out of your diet, you’ll want to take a digestive enzyme supplement that is high in lactase.
For those without any intolerances or sensitivities, digestive enzymes can be helpful to reduce bloating and provide gas relief after eating certain foods. In particular, fermented products and high-fiber foods are common causes of excessive gas production and bloating, so you might want to take some digestive enzymes when you eat these foods.
Digestive enzymes are going to cure any medical conditions that you have. They will simply relieve your negative symptoms and make eating your favourite foods easier and more enjoyable.
When Should You Take Digestive Enzymes?
If you’re taking digestive enzyme supplements on a casual basis, maybe to stop bloating and improve your digestive health, you won’t need to worry too much about taking your supplements at the same time every day. You might choose to take them only when you’re eating specific foods that you know can disrupt your digestion.
For those of you who have been prescribed a digestive enzyme supplement for IBS and bloating, EPI, or other digestive enzyme deficiencies, you’ll need to follow the guidance of your doctor. You may need to take your supplement before every meal or only at certain times of the day.
Ideally, you should take your digestive enzymes 15-20 minutes before you eat a meal. This allows your body time to process the enzymes before you start eating. Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t take your supplement while you’re eating or after you eat.
Wild Dose Digestive Enzymes
Here at Wild Dose, we have the perfect natural remedy to your digestive issues. The ‘A Dose For Bloating’ supplement is formulated to stop bloating quickly and provide immediate gas relief.
They come in easy to swallow capsules that are ideal for most people. Taking just two capsules cam relieve your digestive symptoms so that you can continue your day feeling fresh and comfortable.
A Dose For Bloating contains a unique blend of six digestive enzymes, seven plants extracts, and 1 billion probiotics that combine into the perfect supplement that reduces gas production, feeds your healthy gut microbiome, and eliminates bloat. It's suitable for those who suffer from IBS and a range of other digestive health conditions.