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Do Digestive Enzyme Supplements Actually Work?

by Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN, CLE · September 28, 2022
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Digestive enzymes help break down large nutrients in your food. This action is part of the digestive process and promotes nutrient absorption. Best of all, when digestive enzymes are doing their job, they can relieve post-meal bloating. Because digestive enzymes are naturally present in the body, there is some confusion as to whether it’s actually necessary to take them in supplement form. 

In this article, we’ll compare our body’s enzymes with those found in dietary supplements and debunk whether or not digestive enzymes work. 

Natural Digestive Enzymes vs Digestive Enzyme Supplements

digestive enzymes

Natural digestive enzymes are an essential step in the chemical digestive process. They are proteins made by the stomach, small intestine, and pancreas that help break down food. There are many types of digestive enzymes, but the main ones are:

  • Amylase (breaks down starches)
  • Lipase (breaks down fats)
  • Protease (breaks down protein)
  • Lactase (breaks down lactose or milk sugar)

These enzymes can also be found in supplemental over-the-counter (OTC) forms. A high-quality digestive enzyme supplement will usually provide a wide range of enzymes that can break down proteins, carbs, fats, milk sugar, and even fiber. Unlike those in your body, OTC digestive enzymes are typically derived from food or microorganism sources.

Do Digestive Enzymes Work?

The short answer is yes. Digestive enzyme supplements are well-researched for their ability to aid in the breakdown of nutrients so that your body can absorb and use them for all sorts of bodily functions. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

By helping with the breakdown of nutrients, digestive enzymes are also effective at providing relief from bloating and post-meal discomforts like indigestion. For instance, in a study where people took either the enzyme lipase or a placebo with a high-fat meal, the enzyme group reported significantly less stomach fullness compared to the group that didn’t take an enzyme.

As a registered dietitian, I’ve seen first-hand how digestive enzyme supplements, like HUM’s Flatter Me, have helped people optimize their digestive process. Don’t believe me? These are just a few of the things HUM customers have said about taking Flatter Me:

“Really helped with bloating when I ate foods that normally caused bloating.”

-Hannah D.

“I can notice a huge difference when I take these and when I don’t. Absolutely reduces my gas and bloating!”

-Kelsey B.

“I don’t think I’ve ever left a review for a product in my life. This has completely changed my life. I used to severely bloat, no matter what I ate. Now I can comfortably eat my meals without feeling miserable.”

-Rebecca

“I have noticed easier digestion of meals and reduced bloating since I started using Flatter Me.”

-Kimberly H.

Still need convincing? Watch how HUM’s Flatter Me works to quickly break down a bowl of oatmeal for smooth, easy digestion. Bye, bye bloat!

@humnutrition

The best #Bloating fix 😭🙌 helps you digest food and reduce your bloating!!

♬ original sound – Doing Things

How Do Digestive Enzymes Work? 

Your saliva begins to digest food immediately by releasing enzymes that break down starches and fats. This process is called chemical digestion. Of course, mechanical digestion (AKA chewing) also plays a vital role in moving things along.

Then, chewed food travels down to the stomach, where it’s met by more digestive enzymes. At this point, digestive enzymes will further break down nutrients so that they are easily absorbed by the small intestine. This process generally takes about four to six hours.

On the other hand, digestive enzyme supplements tend to work much quicker. For instance, HUM’s Flatter Me supplement can work as quickly as 30 minutes after consumption.

Who Should Take Digestive Enzymes?

how do digestive enzymes work

Most people can benefit from keeping digestive enzyme supplements handy just in case you happen to eat a meal that’s difficult to digest or likely to cause bloat. If you normally have a hard time digesting your food, then you might consider taking a supplement more regularly. 

Digestive enzymes can be taken daily or on an as-needed basis. 

Pro tip: if you’re on a date, traveling, or simply trying a new cuisine, keep a bottle of Flatter Me in your bag as your personal insurance against post-meal discomfort. 

The Takeaway

The bottom line is that digestive enzymes work for optimizing digestion, nutrient absorption, and bloating relief. They mirror the body’s digestive process by helping to break down large nutrients in your food. You can take them daily or with meals that may be difficult to digest.


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