Recommending effective essential enzyme supplements can help your patients achieve proper and healthy digestion and optimal health
Although rarely thought about, essential enzymes are one of the most important components in our bodies.
They are a type of protein found within a cell and speed up chemical reactions in the body. Without them, the body wouldn’t be able to break down food during digestion, eliminate toxins or build muscle.1
They are the basic catalysts foe energy production.
Enzymes are typically produced within the body naturally. However, some conditions can reduce the number of enzymes that can be synthesized. Knowing about enzymes and the signs of dysfunction can help you guide your patients into better health.
Types of essential enzymes and their function
There are two main types of enzymes — digestive and proteolytic enzymes.
The main digestive enzymes include1:
Digestive enzymes are critical for proper and healthy digestion. They work together with stomach acid to break down food in absorbable molecules.
In the process of digestion, enzymes become involved in the very first step. A type of amylase is in the saliva and begins breaking down starches in food.
Protease are digestive enzymes that help break down protein in your stomach and small intestine. Lipase are the enzymes that break down fats in the digestive system.
The main proteolytic enzymes include2:
Proteolytic enzymes also help with digestion by breaking down dietary protein, but they also have other critical functions.
These enzymes also have anti-inflammatory effects and are critical to immune function, blood clotting and cell division.3
Despite these being the primary types of enzymes, there are over 1,300 different enzymes present in the body.4
What can destroy enzymes?
The most common cause of enzyme breakdown are high fevers. It is the primary reason why it’s advisable to seek medical attention if you have a prolonged fever. Enzymes work best when the body is between 97-99°F. Anything higher for a long period of time can damage the shape of the enzymes so they no longer function.
A body’s pH level can also impact enzymes, especially in the stomach and intestines. Having a pH that is too acidic or too basic can affect essential enzymes function.
Certain conditions like pancreatitis can also destroy enzymes. The pancreas helps create digestive enzymes and the inflammation caused by pancreatitis can prevent this from happening.
Additionally, there can be enzyme inhibitors that prevent chemical reactions. Although they can occur naturally, they can also be found in medications such as antibiotics.
Studies showing the benefit of enzymes
The benefits of digestive enzymes are pretty straightforward, but there are many studies show the benefits of proteolytic enzymes in other parts of the body.
Decrease Inflammation: Studies have shown that proteolytic enzymes can reduce inflammation as well as pain and joint stiffness.5 One study showed that injecting proteolytic enzymes into rats was more effective at reducing inflammation than aspirin.6
Promote healing: Studies have shown that these enzymes help speed up wound healing and recovery after surgery.7 Additionally, they can help support new tissue growth. 8
Reduce muscle soreness: A study showed that proteolytic enzymes helped to reduce post-exercise soreness and swelling.9
Cancer-fight properties: Although they are limited to animal studies, some proteolytic enzymes have been shown to fight cancer cells. One study showed that bromelain reduced or prevented colon cancer cells.10 Human studies are needed to test the viability and safety of these treatments.
Many enzymes can be found naturally in food. Your patient’s diet can heavily impact their enzyme production.
Certain digestive enzymes are present naturally in foods. Bananas, for example, contain amylase. Foods that are rich in proteolytic enzymes are kiwis, pineapple, papaya and fermented foods.
A healthy diet and general good health can make sure enzyme function stays optimal. Your patient’s diet habits can also negatively impact their enzyme function. Not having a varied diet or binging on large meals can sometimes cause a lack of enzymes and lead to symptoms like indigestion or diarrhea.
In your patients, you may want to recommend enzyme supplements if they have certain conditions or symptoms. Patients who have cystic fibrosis, pancreatic cancer or pancreatitis are most likely lacking the proper number of enzymes.
Other symptoms like frequent heart burn, indigestion, undigested food in stools or feeling tired can indicate a need for enzyme supplements.
Patients who have food sensitives and intolerances and those who have highly processed diets may also benefit. 11
Common digestive enzyme supplements often contain one or many of these enzymes including bromelain, papain, hemicellulose, phytase and amylase.
Recommending effective essential enzyme supplements can help your patients achieve optimal health.