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Chiropractic News

December 2010

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The first quantitative evidence proving the efficacy of supplemental enzymes

Background: The underlying premise for taking a digestive enzyme supplement is the capacity for better nutrient absorption through enhanced digestion. National Enzyme Company has been advocating this application for more than 70 years.

Throughout these years, we have collected a plethora of anecdotal and qualitative information backing the use of digestive enzymes. While we were convinced of the efficacy of fungal digestive enzymes, we have been lacking the quantitative information that would prove the same under disinterested scientific scrutiny.

To achieve this goal, we embarked on a collaborative effort with TNO of the Netherlands to prove the efficacy of supplemental, fungal digestive enzymes for the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.

The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO (TNO Nutrition and Food Research) based in Zeist, Netherlands, is a reputable scientific organization whose mission is to be a link of knowledge between fundamental research and its applications to food, drugs and agrochemicals. To quantify the efficacy of supplemental enzymes, TNO proposed a series of experiments using a computer controlled dynamic gastrointestinal model (TIM).

TIM is a unique patented technology, developed by TNO, which simulates the conditions of the human stomach and the small intestine. Using this technology, we accurately replicated the dynamic environment of the human stomach and the small intestine when food is being digested and absorbed. The stellar feature of this system is that it allowed for sampling at various times during the digestive process, which enabled us to gather information in real time about the extent of digestion and absorption of food under various conditions.

The protocols for TIM have been validated. The various studies that have been performed using TIM are well documented in literature.

The first step in this project was the formulation of a digestive enzyme blend that was generic, yet also effective. To this end, NEC formulators created a blend of fungal digestive enzymes that is the basis of all our digestive enzyme products.

In other words, we chose a basic blend of proteases, carbohydrases and lipases. This blend

was tested under two sets of conditions to observe digestibility and absorption of nutrients. The two conditions were perfect human digestion and impaired human digestion.

The TIM system was fed a meal (standard FDA type) with and without NEC digestive enzymes. The extent of digestion was monitored by sampling nutrients (glucose and nitrogen) at various times and at different points in the GI tract.

Study protocol and test conditions: The study was performed in TNO’s dynamic, multi-compartmental system of the stomach and small intestine (TIM). The model simulated very closely the successive dynamic conditions in the stomach and small intestine of healthy human adults with normal gastric and intestinal secretions and of human adults with impaired digestion due to lower levels of gastric and intestinal secretions.

In other words, a perfect digestive system and an extremely impaired digestive system were chosen as test conditions. The two extremes were tested because the digestive capabilities of most humans fall somewhere in between. For each TIM run, 170 grams of the standardized FDA-type of test meal (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) were mixed with 100 milliliters drinking water and 70 milliliters artificial saliva.

Four different types of TIM experiments were performed in duplicate with this meal as follows:

(a) Meal without the digestive enzyme blend under perfect digestive conditions

(b) Meal with addition of digestive enzyme blend under perfect digestive conditions

(c) Meal without the digestive enzyme blend under 70 percent reduced gastric and intestinal secretion (impaired digestion)

(d) Meal with addition of digestive enzyme blend under 70 percent reduced gastric and intestinal secretion (impaired digestion)

The secretion products of the human digestive system consisting of gastric juice with enzymes, pancreatin, bile and bicarbonate were added to the system at the appropriate times.

The pH was monitored and maintained at physiological conditions and peristalsis was mechanically simulated. The gastric emptying and intestinal passage time were mimicked as per human conditions.


This research was provided by Biosan Laboratories Inc.

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