Why would I need supplements for digestion?

There is a big difference between allergies and intolerance when it comes to food. Many of us are hyper aware of our allergies, as the reactions allergens cause are nearly immediate and often dramatic responses from the immune system (e.g. hives or anaphylaxis). 

Food intolerances and sensitivities are typically trickier to determine because the effects are related to digestion, not immune response. 

Being sensitive or intolerant to a food means your body and/or your gut microbiota don’t produce the right types or amounts of enzymes necessary to break it down. This is where uncomfortable (and sometimes embarrassing) consequences like gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea, or constipation after a meal often come from. Reactions can vary in intensity, which makes them unpredictable and the cause harder to pinpoint.

An elimination diet is the classic way to narrow down the probable ingredients giving you trouble, but these diets can be time-consuming and frustrating. Nowadays, you can also have your food sensitivities tested by a doctor, or through mail-in blood test kits offered by many online companies. The reputability of these companies may vary, so ask your doctor to recommend one if you are most comfortable testing from home.

Depending on what your sensitivities are, a digestive enzyme supplement, like GluDaZymeTM from Metabolic Maintenance®, may help mitigate those uncomfortable side effects of digestive trouble.

What if I don’t struggle with gas?

Lucky you! Perhaps you are the “iron stomach” type who can seemingly eat anything without consequence. You still might be interested in an enzymatic supplement like GluDaZymeTM. We will explain in more detail how it works, but additional digestive enzymes also allow you to absorb more nutrition from your food. 

Enzymes break down food particles, releasing the nutrients trapped inside. More enzymes lead to a more complete breakdown, which means you can get more vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds out of the healthy foods you eat.

What do digestive enzymes do?

An enzyme is a protein whose job is to break down a specific target. Different enzymes catalyze thousands of reactions in the human body. For specificity’s sake, we are talking only about those that target food. 

Different organs of your digestive system secrete different types of digestive enzymes, each specialized to break down a component of food. 

Foods are generally made up of 3 types of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other beneficial compounds) are trapped inside these larger macronutrients. Digestive enzymes free the micronutrients so your body can absorb them. 

Amylase, the digestive enzyme in your saliva, starts breaking down carbohydrates as soon as food enters your mouth. The amylase continues working on your food as it travels to the stomach.

Your pancreas, gallbladder, and liver send proteases and lipases to break down fats and proteins while your stomach churns the contents of your meal. The acidic environment of the stomach also aids in the breakdown. 

The brush border of the small intestine secretes some enzymes too. This is where people with the ability to tolerate lactose secrete lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the sugar in milk. If you are lactose intolerant, and your body does not make enough lactase, these sugars travel on to the colon where they feed gut bacteria. The byproduct of bacteria eating lactose in the colon is gas, which causes the uncomfortable symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Alternatively, if you are nurturing the probiotic (beneficial) species of bacteria living in the gut, that can also help with digestion. Some species of bacteria occupying the gut environment also secrete digestive enzymes, including lactase, to give food one last chance for breakdown and absorption before it reaches the colon.

What can supplementary digestive enzymes do?

Some bodies just don’t secrete enough enzymes, or the right type of enzymes to break down all of the food in that individual’s diet. This could be a genetic issue or one that develops with age as enzymatic secretions tend to slow.

Just like the enzymes secreted naturally by the body, however, an enzymatic digestive aid like GluDaZymeTM can help to break down the macronutrient components of your food. Better food breakdown means more nutrients are available for absorption when digested matter reaches the gut. Importantly, the owner of the gut will suffer fewer symptoms of undigested food/malabsorption. 

Exactly which digestive enzymes does GluDaZyme contain?

GluDaZymeTM was designed to aid in the digestion of the most common culprits in the realm of food sensitivity: gluten and dairy. It also includes enzymes to support the digestion of fats, sugars, and complex carbohydrates. 

To target these typically problematic food components, GluDaZyme contains a proprietary blend of enzymes that includes Dipeptidyl Peptidase (DPP-IV) (Protease I, Protease II, Protease III, Protease IV, Protease V), Amylase I, Amylase II, Glucoamylase, Cellulase, Hemicellulase, Alpha Galactosidase, Xylanase, Lactase, and Lipase.

What do each of the enzymes in GluDaZyme do, specifically?

Peptidases, also known as proteolytic enzymes, proteases, or proteinases, are secreted naturally by the gut to break down dietary protein into smaller, absorbable peptides or amino acids [1]. They also break down unwanted bacteria, toxins, and cellular debris, complementing and relieving some roles of the immune system [1].

Dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV) has shown specific action in the breakdown of gluten, among other proteins [2].

As mentioned earlier, lactose is the natural sugar found in dairy products, and its absorption requires enzymatic activity by lactase in the small intestine [3]. Lactose intolerance becomes increasingly common with advanced age, as lactase production in the gut tends to decline over time [3]. Supplementing with lactase can help make up for this drop in endogenous production.

Amylases hydrolyze large starch molecules into glucose and maltose for cellular transport and energy metabolism [4]. Glucoamylase, specifically, breaks starches into d-glucose [5].

Some types of dietary fiber (mostly cellulose and hemicelluloses which make up 20–30% of the fiber ingested daily) cannot be broken down by human enzymes. However, cellulase and hemicellulase, enzymes that break down these cell wall proteins to release valuable micronutrients from plant material, are produced by some species of probiotic microorganisms [6]. Supplementing cellulase and hemicellulase offers a similar benefit.

Alpha galactosidase and xylanase also aid in cellular breakdown and contribute to human digestion of plant material [7,8].

Lipases are typically secreted most abundantly by the stomach and the pancreas to aid in the digestion of dietary fats [9]. Supplementation of these highly hydrophobic enzymes may aid in not only the digestion of fats but also the absorption of valuable nutrients that are otherwise sequestered by lipid globules [9].

Who should take GluDaZyme?

Anyone who feels they could benefit from digestive assistance can take GluDaZymeTM before a meal, although experts recommend not giving digestive enzymes to children under 4 [10]. Of course, it would be beneficial to discuss your digestive health and the addition of a digestive aid with your healthcare practitioner before adding GluDaZymeTM to your daily regimen.

We do want to be clear that GluDaZymeTM is not your ticket to all-you-can-eat mac and cheese if you are severely gluten and dairy intolerant. You will still want to be careful about the foods you are most sensitive to. 

If your natural food sensitivities are only mild, GluDaZymeTM may allow you to eat with increased comfort and less worry. 

For the severely sensitive, GluDaZymeTM may help to reduce the consequences of cross-contact in restaurants and other food processing facilities. 

No matter your sensitivity level, GluDaZymeTM will support more complete digestion and increased nutrient absorption after your meals.

H2: References

  1. Group, Edward. “The Health Benefits of Protease.” Global Healing Center. (2013). https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/protease/
  2. Ehren, Jennifer, et al. “A food-grade enzyme preparation with modest gluten detoxification properties.” PloS one 4.7 (2009): e6313.
  3. Usai-Satta, Paolo, et al. “Lactose malabsorption and intolerance: what should be the best clinical management?.”World journal of gastrointestinal pharmacology and therapeutics 3.3 (2012): 29.
  4. Nater, Urs M., et al. “Human salivary alpha-amylase reactivity in a psychosocial stress paradigm.” International Journal of Psychophysiology 55.3 (2005): 333-342.
  5. Thivend, P., et al. “Determination of starch with glucoamylase.” General Carbohydrate Method. 1972. 100-105.
  6. Robert, Céline, and Annick Bernalier‐Donadille. “The cellulolytic microflora of the human colon: evidence of microcrystalline cellulose‐degrading bacteria in methane‐excreting subjects.” FEMS microbiology ecology 46.1 (2003): 81-89.
  7. Bishop, David F., et al. “Human alpha-galactosidase A: nucleotide sequence of a cDNA clone encoding the mature enzyme.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences83.13 (1986): 4859-4863.
  8. Collins, Tony, Charles Gerday, and Georges Feller. “Xylanases, xylanase families and extremophilic xylanases.”FEMS microbiology reviews 29.1 (2005): 3-23.
  9. Mukherjee, Manjari. “Human digestive and metabolic lipases—a brief review.” Journal of Molecular Catalysis B: Enzymatic22.5-6 (2003): 369-376.
  10. WebMD Medical Reference. “What Are Digestive Enzymes?”. WebMD. November 07, 2019. https://www.webmd.com/diet/what-are-digestive-enzymes#2