How Enzyme Supplements Work and Why You Should Use Them


The number of enzymes the body is capable of producing is finite.

Enzymes for digestion come from two sources:

Internally - from our own digestive organs (digestive enzymes); and Externally - from the food we eat (food enzymes).

Food enzymes occur naturally in raw foods and provide the body with additional support to break down those foods. Cooking or processing food at temperatures greater than 118°F. destroys all enzymes and places the entire burden for digestion on the body.

The depletion of enzyme activity over time leads to chronic conditions and eventually the loss of life.

The health impact of food enzyme depletion has been largely overlooked in allopathic medicine, but today healthcare practitioners in many different disciplines are recognizing the importance of digestive enzymes. Supporting proper digestion with enzyme supplements can noticeably improve your health.

In fact, everyone could benefit from an enzyme supplement taken with meals. Remember, you are not what you eat but what you absorb.

Lack of enzymes in foods puts undue stress on the pancreas and other digestive enzyme-producing organs to produce all of the enzymes required for digestion. When an excess amount of resources is constantly used for digestion other metabolic functions in the body suffer, leading to chronic health problems.

The goal of enzyme supplementation is three fold:

1) To increase digestion and absorption of nutrients needed to maintain a healthy body.

2) To provide adequate support for digestive organs, relieving them of unnecessary stress and thereby extending their productive lives.

3) To increase availability of energy and valuable resources that can be used for other necessary metabolic functions. A preventive measure to reduces the onset of dis-ease.

"The length of life is inversely proportional to the rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential of an organism. The increased use of food enzymes promotes a decreased rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential." (Dr. Edward Howell, Enzyme Nutrition: The Food Enzyme Concept¹)

Choosing The Right Enzymes

Enzymes from animal sources, such as pancreatin, are most active in the alkaline environment of the small intestine (pH 7.2-9.0) after the body has already produced and released enzymes to support digestion. This means animal enzyme supplements do nothing to spare the pancreas and other digestive organs from producing an excess of enzymes.

Microbial enzymes are active over a broad pH range (pH 2.0 to 11.0) and begin digesting food immediately after entering the stomach. The presence of digesting food in the stomach signals the body to produce and release fewer enzymes. Microbial enzymes, therefore, are the better choice because they relieve the body of the total burden of digestion.

What to Look For in an Enzyme Supplement

The four enzymes commonly found in food, and therefore, needed in an enzyme supplement are:

  • Amylase for carbohydrates and starches digestion
  • Lipase for fat digestion
  • Protease for protein digestion
  • Cellulase to break down fibrous foods

Additional enzymes, such as glucoamylase, sucrase, lactase, alpha-galactosidase, phytase and peptidase, to enhance and support complete digestion of each of the food groups.

When selecting an enzyme supplement be certain that the four primary enzyme types are present to assure digestion of all of the main food components, while noting that additional enzymes improve the digestive efficiency of the supplement.

Systemic Enzyme Therapy

For those clients that have already fallen into dis-ease, due to poor digestion, poor absorption or reduced metabolic enzyme production; enzyme supplementation can also be extremely beneficial.

In systemic enzyme therapy, larger dose of proteases or proteolytic enzymes are taken on an empty stomach one hour before and two hours after a meal. This allows the enzymes to be absorbed directly into the blood stream. It is well documented that protease enzymes act differently in the tissues of the body than in the digestive tract. Once in the blood stream, protease enzymes binds with alpha-2-macroglobulins, shifting them into their active form.

Research has shown certain protease enzymes exhibit greater activity in the blood than others and that the amount of needed for systemic activity is often much greater than that needed for digestion. Unfortunately, most systematic protease products on the market contain the same levels and combination of protease enzymes as are found in digestive products. Proper systemic enzyme therapy can reduce inflammation, boost immune function, maintain cardiovascular health, maximize endocrine effectiveness, aid in detoxification, promote normal respiratory function and on and on.

Volumes of scientific research exists on the benefits of enzymes therapy on a whole host of physical disorders.

One randomized, placebo-controlled study published by the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center determined that Enzymes, Inc. InflammEnz, a protease-based nutritional supplement modulates the inflammatory response and accelerates healing time by up to 17% in 77% of the patients who received it.²

When enzymes are taken in formulation with vitamins, minerals, herbs, or phyto-nutrients the combination improves absorption and bio-availability of those nutrients, maximizing healing.



1. Enzyme Nutrition: The Food Enzyme Concept. Dr. Edward Howell. Avery Publishing Group Inc. New Jersey, 1985.
2. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. Brown, S. et al. 114(1):237-244, July 2004.
3. Micro Miracles: Discover the Healing Power of Enzymes. Dr. Ellen W. Cutler. Rodale, Inc. 2005.
4. Enzymes: The Foundation of Life. Dr. D.A. Lopez, MD. et al. Neville Press, Inc. Munchen, 1994.


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