Guest Post: Which Enzymes Should You Be Taking?

Reposted from the website of Dr. DicQie Fuller-Looney

Food enzymes are preserved intact in raw foods. Uncooked fruit and vegetables contain their own enzymes. A ripening banana is a good example of how raw-food enzymes work. The banana transforms itself from a hard, starchy plant into a very soft, brown and sweet one through a process requiring energy from its enzymes. Their plant enzymes work first to take in nutrients and then allow them to ripen with the same enzyme process the soil, tree or host they grow on. They are not available during human digestion. There is confusion in the raw food world over the enzymes that raw foods contain. These food enzymes are specifically for the food itself to obtain their own nutrients from because they are destroyed and/or made dormant in the acid environment of the human stomach. We may eat or juice these raw foods but their enzymes are only present to work for their own needs. Such enzymes are not available for our needs because they have to first go through our stomach where they are made dormant.

Plant Enzymes are bromelain, kiwi and papain. Bromelain is a proteolytic (breaks down protein) and milk-clotting enzyme derived from the pineapple stem. Papain is taken from the fruit of the papaya tree. Both bromelain and papain are used in tenderizers and to break down proteins. In the human digestive tract and because of their ultimate pH they are used mostly for inflammation between meals rather than in the main digestive tract. Kiwi has some value in the breaking down of fiber and some dairy products. There are those who experience bowel irritation with the use of kiwi and papain similar to the bloating from eating at salad bars.

Plant based supplemental digestive enzymes is the third source for these miraculous substances. They are grown on plant foods (as their host) in a laboratory where they are fed to become whatever digestive enzyme type is required, but they do not contain their host. The host is a plant source and its use is just a platform to host the mycelial or biochemical enzymes. When mature, the fungus is removed and the remainder is a pure fluid that is dried to a fine powder substance. They are known as plant enzymes but they are really mycelial or microbial produced bio-identical enzymes to the human body. Enzymes cannot be made like synthetic vitamins and minerals. They must be grown in plant form and extracted without chemicals in a laboratory process. Supplemental plant-based enzymes are usually sold in capsule form. They are swallowed with food to assist in the digestion of a particular meal. They work throughout the entire digestive system, from esophagus to rectum.

Animal enzymes also known as glandular enzymes are the other enzymes available for human consumption. For instance, pancreatin comes from the pancreas of a slaughterhouse hog or ox. Pancreatin requires an alkaline pH setting to work. Therefore, It begins working only in the latter stages of the digestive process. Parts of the glands enzymes are chymotrypsin, trypsin and pepsin. They all require an enteric coating for protection from the human stomach. Their best work is in the alkaline setting of the blood but not necessarily for digestive purposes. Animal produced enzymes are not recommended for children or pregnant women due to their coating.

Supplemental plant based digestive enzymes, which work from a pH of 2 to 9 throughout the digestive system and into the pH of the blood are obviously the best choice for digestive supplementation.

You would want to ingest those enzymes that are most available to your system for proper digestion. For instance there are 13 different carbohydrate-splitting enzymes not just amylase, which is limited to the breaking down of starch into glucose.

There are a few lipase enzymes to assist in the breaking down of fats and moving them into the lymphatic system to make their way to the liver. One type does not call for bile, which is good for those with the gallbladder removed.

Protease enzymes come in different pH factors from acid bearing to work in the stomach, acid to neutral to work in the small intestine and alkaline to work in the blood.

Serrapeptase: The Miracle Enzyme?


We’ve talked about digestive enzymes before, and we all know about the myriad benefits of enzymes for digestive health, but systemic enzymes are another class of nutrients that aren’t discussed as much, though they are just as important—from protease and bromelain for heart health and inflammation, systemic enzymes are necessary for optimal health. A new systemic enzyme, Serrapeptase, is gaining in popularity as more research shows that it may help with inflammation, heart health and clearing out mucous, among other things.

Discovered in the early 1970’s, this proteolytic enzyme was isolated from the Serratia species of bacteria located in the intestines of silkworms and used to digest their cocoons. Though Serrapeptase has only been used in the United States for about a decade, it has been used all over Europe and Asia in clinical settings for nearly 40 years.

Also called Serratia Peptidase, Serrapeptase is a proteolytic enzyme, which means that it chops up or digests proteins into their constituent amino acids.  When this enzyme is isolated and coated in the form of a tablet, it has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory and a pain-blocker, much like aspirin, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). What’s more, preliminary research indicates that Serrapeptase may even help inhibit plaque build-up in arteries, thereby preventing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and a resulting heart attack or stroke. Therefore, much like aspirin, this naturally derived enzyme may work to prevent inflammation, pain, heart attack and stroke. Unlike aspirin and other over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs, Serrapeptase has not been shown to cause ulcers and stomach bleeding.

Serrapeptase is thought to work in three ways:

  1. It may reduce inflammation by thinning the fluids formed from injury, and facilitating the fluid’s drainage. This in turn, also speeds tissue repair.
  2. It may help alleviate pain by inhibiting the release of pain-inducing amines called bradykinin.
  3. It may enhance cardiovascular health by breaking down the protein by-products of blood coagulation called fibrin. Conveniently, Serrapeptase is able to dissolve the fibrin and other dead or damaged tissue without harming living tissue. This could enable the dissolution of atherosclerotic plaques without causing any harm to the inside of the arteries.

The standard dose for Serrapeptase is 10-60mg (10mg of Serrapeptase is equal to approximately 20,000 enzymatic units), and it should be supplemented on an empty stomach—30 minutes before a meal or two hours after a meal—three times a day. Most studies use 10mg of Serrapeptase taken every eight hours.

Our favorite Serrapeptase supplement is Serrapeptase Complete from Anova Health, which provides 40,000 IU of Serrapeptase per capsule. Each vegetarian and kosher capsule is also micro-enteric coated for maximum absorption.


Enzymes 101: Help Beat The Bloat This Holiday Season


As the holidays roll on, our free time suddenly becomes filled with dinners, parties and potlucks. All that eating can put a strain on even the most ruthlessly efficient digestive system, and enzymes can help our bodies process all of the gluten-, sugar- and fat-laden holiday food that keeps getting set out on the office counter. If you’ve ever taken Beano, you’re already well acquainted with digestive enzymes and their wonders, but there’s so much more to these little catalysts than keeping the gas at bay when you’re forced to eat your aunt’s 12-bean salad at the family reunion.

You’ve probably heard the word enzymes thrown around as something that’s important for good health, but in order to figure out what it means, and how important enzymes are for digestion, we’ll first have to crack open our 9th-grade chemistry books: Enzymes, at their most basic, are molecules that act as catalysts to speed up chemical reactions in living organisms. They are present in all living cells, and help regulate every biochemical reaction that happens in the human body.

When it comes to digestion, enzymes are the catalyst that help break down the food you eat into its constituent nutrients (amino acids, sugars, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals) so they can be used by your body to fuel all of its processes. Without enzymes, your body would still process the food you eat—eventually. Instead of taking days, enzymes make this process happen in hours so that the food you eat can provide nutrients to your body instead of rotting in your intestines.

The three most important digestive enzyme types are amylases, which break down starches into simple sugars, proteases, which break down proteins into amino acids, and lipases, which break down fats. Humans produce these enzymes in the mouth, stomach and intestines, but they are also present in our food in its raw form—Papain (from papayas) and Bromelain (from pineapples) are two of the most well-known plant-based enzymes that our body doesn’t produce. Chronic stress, low stomach acid, aging, and gut inflammation can decrease our body’s ability to product enzymes on its own, and the modern American diet full of overcooked, over-processed, under-chewed, enzyme-deficient food only adds to our body’s inability to process what we eat.

This lack of enzymes and inability to efficiently digest food is what leads to the gas, bloating, heartburn and feeling of a rock in our stomach that we all know and hate. Because our body has to work so much harder during digestion, enzyme deficiency can also lead to the dreaded food coma. For some, a change in diet and even chewing more can help alleviate the enzyme deficiency, but most people find that they need additional supplementation from outside sources.

Enzymes supplements usually come from three main sources: Fruit (papain and bromelain), animal (pancreatin), or fungus. Fungus-based sources tend to be the most stable, and encompass a broad spectrum of enzymes, so look for a supplement that uses an extensive blend.

You’ll want to take your digestive enzymes with meals so that the enzymes can be used by the body as its digesting your food. Systemic enzymes may be taken between meals to replenish enzyme stores in the rest of your body.

Our favorite enzyme products come from Transformation Enzymes. TEC uses the highest-quality enzymes available in broad-spectrum, synergistic blends for a variety of digestive problems. These are our three favorite TEC products:

  • Digest: Digest is Transformation’s flagship product, and is a wonderful blend of essential enzymes to help digest all food molecules, from proteins and fats to carbohydrates and lactose. If you’re trying digestive enzymes for the first time, this is the most comprehensive blend available. Digest is available in 60 count, 90 count and 120 count bottles.
  • DigestZyme: With its smaller capsule DigestZyme is a great introduction to digestive enzymes. This gentle formula includes probiotics to further aid proper digestion. DigestZyme is available in 120 count and 240 count capsules, or a powder that can easily be mixed with food.
  • Gastro: Gastro is a complex, active enzyme formulation that is designed to alleviate occasional gastrointestinal discomfort, improve digestive function, and strengthen epithelial cell vitality in the gut.