What are Enzymes?
Enzymes are protein molecules produced by the cells of all animals, plants and living organisms. There are specialized proteins to perform different functions. For example, an enzyme can synthesize chemicals, rearrange molecules or add substances to compounds.
An enzyme needs a specific substance to work on; if the substance is unavailable, the body cannot utilize it well. For example, the digestive enzymes necessary for weight loss help break down our food and keep our metabolism burning fat. The enzymes required for weight loss include lipase, protease and amylase.
What are Digestive Enzymes?
Digestive enzymes are proteins that the body produces naturally to break down the food and helps with digestion. Digestion is the absorption of nutrients found in the diet to provide energy that helps in the growth and vital functions of the body.
The digestion process begins in the mouth when the saliva breaks down food into smaller particles that the body can absorb. Next, the stomach, small intestine and pancreas release the digestive enzymes. The pancreas secretes essential enzymes to break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Types of Digestive Enzymes
The primary digestive enzymes are:
- Amylase: secreted in the mouth and pancreas, which helps to break down complex carbohydrates
- Lipase: secreted by the pancreas, which helps to break down fats
- Protease: secreted by the pancreas, which helps to break down proteins
- Lactase secreted in the small intestine that helps break down lactose
- Sucrase: secreted by the small intestine that helps to break down sucrose
What is Digestive Enzyme Insufficiency?
Some people might not produce enough digestive enzymes, or they will not be able to secrete the enzyme at all. As a result, it might be difficult to digest and absorb certain foods and nutrients. This condition is called enzyme insufficiency.
Some of the enzyme insufficiencies are:
- Congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency: body cannot produce enough sucrase to digest certain sugars.
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency: the pancreas cannot be able to produce sufficient enzymes to digest carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
- Lactose intolerance: the body doesn’t produce enough lactase, leading to problems digesting the sugar found in milk and milk products.
Symptoms of Enzyme Insufficiency
Such conditions can lead to malnutrition or gastrointestinal irritation. The most common symptoms are:
- Belly pain or cramps
- Excessive flatulence
- Increased bowel movements
- Unexplained weight loss
What are Digestive Enzyme Supplements?
Digestive enzyme supplements are taken to compensate for the insufficiency of the particular enzyme functions. Many conditions require digestive enzyme supplements on a regular basis. Some of such severe problems are pancreatic disease, Celiac and Crohn’s disease.
People diagnosed with enzyme insufficiency will need prescription digestive enzymes. These prescription enzyme supplements will help the body process food and absorb nutrients better. The most common and properly regulated enzyme replacement therapy is pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT). PERT is a replacement enzyme therapy for pancreatic insufficiency, which contains the enzymes amylase, lipase and protease. This helps with the breakdown of carbs, fats and proteins.
OTC Digestive Enzymes Supplements
Many people self-medicate by taking over-the-counter digestive enzyme supplements to treat problems such as acid reflux, gas, bloating and diarrhoea. These might contain amylase, lipase and protease. Some contain lactase and alpha-galactosidase. Alpha-galactosidase is an enzyme which is not generally produced by the body. But it can be helpful to break down a non-absorbable fibre called galactooligosaccharides (GOS), primarily found in beans, certain root vegetables and dairy products.
These over-the-counter digestive enzyme supplements are not well regulated, and their ingredients, enzyme concentration, and side effects are not well known. Some supplements also claim to have been successful in weight loss without any substantial evidence.
Usually, a healthy person does not need such digestive enzyme supplements. This is because the body naturally produces the best digestive enzymes at sufficient levels.
Do Digestive Enzymes Help in Weight Loss?
In recent times, the term “weight loss digestive enzymes” has been getting quite popular.
The digestive system is equipped with all the necessary enzymes to convert the food into absorbable nutrients. However, some people might have an insufficiency or inability due to a lack or low amounts of necessary enzymes. Digestive enzyme supplements support healthy digestion and increase nutrient absorption in such cases. Studies report that they may benefit conditions like lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome.
But in recent times, many questions and doubts have been raised regarding the action and potential of these digestive enzymes in losing considerable weight. While much research is still underway, it has been proved that these enzyme supplements can help to improve digestion and gut health. As a result of this, the body can efficiently metabolize the food that is consumed, which may contribute to weight loss.
Though there is no evidence about the role of digestive enzymes in weight loss, people can try probiotics and digestive enzymes such as proteases and lipases, which might help with proper digestion and speedy metabolism.
Digestive Enzyme Supplements for Weight Loss
Most digestive supplements are derived from microbial or animal sources. Though animal-based digestive enzymes are more common, microbial supplements can be an effective, vegan-friendly alternative. Most of the enzyme supplements contain a combination of protease, lipase, and amylase, but they may also contain other substances to promote healthy digestion. There is no clear and conclusive evidence regarding the effectiveness of digestive enzymes in weight loss. Some studies have reported that the digestive enzymes may enhance the gut microbiome, which may be helpful in weight loss.
Before trying a new supplement, it is advised to talk to your doctor, especially if there are any underlying medical conditions or are already under any medications. In addition, digestive enzyme supplements should always be taken with food to maximize their effectiveness.
Some of the digestive enzyme supplements are:
Lipase supplements may be useful for weight loss, as lipase can help to increase the amount of fat metabolized by the body.
People with lactose intolerance may be prone to weight gain. A lactase enzyme supplement could be beneficial to them.
The pancreas is the powerhouse of enzymes that help break down sugars, starches and fats. Pancreatic enzymes may be used to improve metabolic efficiency.
Bromelain weight loss supplements are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. It may also help to reduce belly fat.
Is Taking Digestive Enzymes Safe?
Too much of anything is bad for the body. These enzyme supplements may be helpful for some duration, but taking them without any defect in the digestive system for a long time can affect the body’s natural functions and lead to many harmful effects. Hence such extra supplements should be taken with proper guidance.
Natural Foods that Contain Digestive Enzymes
Raw fruits and vegetables contain various plant enzymes that have various health benefits when included in the regular diet. Unfortunately, there is no reliable proof or evidence to prove that these enzyme-rich foods might help with digestion or weight loss. However, it is better to follow a well-balanced diet that contains lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. These foods will naturally enhance the digestion and absorption of food taken.
Some of the food items that contain natural digestive enzymes are:
- Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain that helps break down protein into amino acids, which helps in the digestion and absorption of proteins.
- Honey is an essential source of digestive enzymes such as proteases, amylases, diastases, and invertases.
- Mango contains digestive enzyme amylases that help break down carbohydrates into glucose and maltose.
- Bananas contain amylases, and glucosidases, which help break down complex carbohydrates into easily absorbable sugar.
- Papayas contain a group of proteases called papain that helps digest proteins.
- Avocados contain lipase that helps break down fat into smaller molecules like glycerol.
- Sauerkraut is a probiotic food containing digestive enzymes that improve gut bacteria and digestive health.
- Ginger: Ginger contains Zingibain, the protease that helps convert proteins into building blocks.
- Yoghurt is a probiotic with B-D-galactosidase that breaks down lactose to glucose and galactose.
- Kefir is a probiotic food containing many enzymes such as lipase, protease, and lactase that help break down fat, protein, and lactose.
- Kimchi is rich in probiotics and many digestive enzymes such as protease, lipase, and amylase that break down fat, protein, and carbs.
- Kiwi contains the enzyme actinidain that helps break down protein.
- Apricots contain invertase that converts sugar into fructose and glucose molecules.
Herbal Weight Loss Supplements
People can opt for herbal weight loss supplements, which may increase fat metabolism and help in the smooth transition of body weight without causing any harmful side effects to the body. Many such natural herbal products for weight loss help people try hard to lose the extra fat and flab. When testing a herbal weight loss supplement, choosing a well-known, physician-prescribed product is essential, which should be taken as recommended. These herbal supplements work well when the recommended dosage is taken along with regular physical activity and a diet suggested by the physician.
Some of the well-reputed natural herbal products for weight loss are Sunova’s, Dizester Herbal (200ml)+ Bioslim Combo, SUNOVA BIOSLIM – Weight Management Formula, Sunova Bioslim + Diabetic Care, Sunova Bioslim + Dr Shugar, Sunova Bioslim + Organic Spirulina Capsule.
Digestive enzymes are essential compounds that break down food so the digestive tract can easily absorb it. As a result, they have multiple health benefits, such as improving gut flora, speeding up the weight loss, decreasing the symptoms of IBS, healthy inflammatory response, and reducing cancer symptoms and side effects of chemotherapy.
While the body produces these digestive enzymes naturally, consuming food and supplements at a balanced, recommended level is crucial for maintaining adequate digestive enzymes.
Adding and suppressing certain digestive enzymes may help with weight loss. But unfortunately, it may also cause many side effects such as nutrient deficiencies, gut flora imbalances, abdominal pain and poor health.
In conclusion, based on the facts, it is evident that taking digestive enzymes will not help in losing weight. They are mainly beneficial for people with digestive disorders and enzyme insufficiencies.
Making positive lifestyle changes, a healthy balanced diet, and an active physical routine is the most effective way to promote weight loss.