If you’re a newcomer, we realize that getting into the world of enzymes and natural health and wellness can be a bit daunting. With so many scientific terms and confusing acronyms, it can feel like trying to tread water in word soup. But we’re passionate about how powerful and important natural digestive enzymes are, so we’ve assembled a helpful guide to give you simple, straightforward explanations to your enzyme questions.
What Are Enzymes and What Do They Do?
Enzymes assist biochemical reactions in our bodies. These reactions are necessary for our cells to live and our digestive system to work. Made of active proteins, enzymes help turn one thing inside us into another. There are two different kinds of enzymes that our bodies produce: metabolic and digestive. Metabolic enzymes live in our cells and help promote and regulate all of the biochemical reactions that keep us alive. Digestive enzymes live in our gut and help to break down the food we eat.
With our bodies producing approximately 1,300 different enzymes, they are vitally important. While our bodies naturally produce both metabolic and digestive enzymes as needed, sometimes the body is lacking in certain enzymes to carry out functions most efficiently and completely.
Why Take Digestive Enzyme Supplements?
Despite the fact that our bodies naturally produce digestive enzymes, many people still experience digestive discomfort due to food particles not being broken down enough in the gut. This may be due to age, diet, illness or your body’s unique makeup. This is where adding an enzyme supplement can help—potentially reducing digestive distress, increasing energy and improving regularity.* With additional enzymes, our guts have an easier time digesting food, which may improve comfort and increase energy, as our bodies our helped to extract more nutrients easier.*
How Quickly Will I Feel Results From Enzyme Supplements?
It is common to feel the results of enzyme supplements faster than other products. Typically a few days to a few weeks is enough time to gauge whether a particular product is working for you.
What Kinds of Enzyme Supplements Are There? And Which Is Best?
Not all natural enzyme supplements are equal. Enzyme supplements can be derived from either plant, microbial or animal means. Vegetarian (plant or microbial) is the most popular and potent kind. Not only are vegetarian enzymes more potent, but they are active at a wider pH range than animal enzymes. The broader the pH range an enzyme is active in is important as pH changes throughout the digestive tract.
The four most common vegetarian enzymes you will come across are protease, amylase, lipase and cellulase. They represent about 80% of the market. Protease breaks down protein, amylase breaks down carbohydrates, lipase breaks down fat and cellulase breaks down cellulose. Two other vegetarian enzymes you may run across are bromelain and papain, and both help support the body’s natural recovery from overexertion.*
All of Enzymedica’s enzyme supplements are vegetarian and contain no artificial fillers or additives, using their unique Thera-blend formula makes them as effective as possible by working across the digestive tract’s broad pH range.
How Are Enzymes Measured?
Enzymes are measured in active units, not weight. This is done because unlike vitamins, weight has no effect on how potent an enzyme is. What matters is how many reactions an enzyme can create, or how much food it can break down. The number of active units relates to how many of these reactions it creates, so therefore, higher numbers are better, even if the units are foreign.
Unfortunately, there is no uniform measurement for all enzymes, like milligrams, so it just takes time to memorize all the different acronyms. Here is a list of the units for each of the major enzymes you might come across.
- Alpha-Galactosidase - GalU (Galactosidase Units)
- Amylase - DU (Dextrinizing Units)
- Bromelain - GDU (Gelatin Digesting Units) or PU
- Catalase - Baker Units (Named after the Author)
- Cellulase - CU (Cellulase Unit)
- Glucoamylase - AGU (Amyloglucosidase Units)
- Hemicellulase - HCU (Hemicellulase Units)
- Invertase - INVU (Invertase Activity Unit) or SU (Sumner Units)
- Lactase - ALU (Acid Lactase Unit)
- Lipase - FIP (Federation Internationale Pharmceutique)
- Maltase - DP (Degrees of Diastatic Power)
- Nattokinase - FU (Fibrinolytic Units)
- Pectinase - Endo-PGU (Endo-Polygalacturonase Units)
- Phytase - FTU (Phytase Units)
- Protease - HUT (Hemoglobin Unit on a L-Tyrosine basis)
- Xylanase - XU (Xylanase Units)
What Should I Look for When Reading Labels?
Other than looking for the activation units, the most important thing is to avoid fillers, like stearate, apple pectin and rice starch. They should also be free of binders, excipients and flow agents. The best enzyme supplements contain only cellulose and water, aside from the enzymes. All of Enzymedica’s enzyme supplements are all natural and are not produced using biotechnology.
What Side Effects Should I Expect?
Few users experience negative side effects, but for those who do, the most common ones are an upset stomach or soft stool. When starting a regimen of protease, if you start feeling an upset stomach, it may indicate that your current dosage is too high and a lower dosage is needed. As with any adverse effect, stop supplementing and talk to your doctor.
What Is the Theory of Enzyme Potential?
The basic element of this theory is that a person can only produce a certain amount of enzymes across both metabolic and digestive, and that if we can reduce the need for our bodies to produce more digestive enzymes, it’s free to create more metabolic enzymes. Since metabolic enzymes facilitate the life-giving actions in our cells, the more metabolic enzymes we can make, the better. Therefore, supplementing with digestive enzymes means that our bodies don’t need to make as many enzymes to digest the food we eat, allowing them to make more life-giving metabolic enzymes!