If you're experiencing heartburn, nausea, bloating or cramping, it may be from the foods you're eating. And, you're not alone. Up to 70 million Americans suffer from digestive issues. 

But, why does this happen? Often, the foods we eat don't break down completely, preventing the lower esophageal sphincterThe lower esophageal sphincter (or LES) is a muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach. It acts as a valve that normally stays tightly closed to prevent contents in the stomach from backing up into the esophagus. from closing tightly. 

Food and stomach acid then go up back up into our esophagus from our stomach. When this happens, we experience the excruciating symptoms of acid reflux. 

As we get older, our bodies produce less digestive enzymes naturally. Unfortunately our body alone cannot meet the demands of aging and a stressed out digestive system. 

The right digestive enzyme supplement facilitates the breakdown of foods into smaller, more digestible pieces. This leads to better absorption of nutrients, and counteracts the unpleasant symptoms of indigestion

After research began revealing just how integral digestive enzymes are to our bodies, enzyme supplements began shooting up in popularity. They now fill whole sections on grocery store shelves, and popular doctor shows rave about their whole-body effects.

With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect supplement.

Smarter Reviews has conducted years of research about digestive enzymes and their benefits on your overall body health. This quick guide will help you discover everything you need to know the make the most informed decision when choosing a digestive enzyme that is right for you. 

Probiotics vs. Digestive Enzymes: What's the Difference?

Digestive Enzymes

Enzymes are naturally produced in our body to break down the food we eat. However, sometimes the body is unable to make enough digestive enzymes on its own. 

Digestive enzyme supplements provide fast relief, particularly when eating fried foods, coffee, dairy, and other foods that commonly irritate the gut. 

Probiotics

Probiotics provide a healthy balance to your gut. When out of balance, symptoms such as rashes, stomach aches, fatigue, a weakened immune system can arise. An effective probiotic benefits not only your digestion, but your brain and skin and overall immune system.

However, if you're looking to relieve heartburn symptoms, an effective digestive enzyme supplement should be your best bet. 

While both probiotics and digestive enzymes have tremendous benefits for your body, digestive enzymes are the best choice for immediate relief of heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux.

Do I Really Need A Digestive Enzyme Aid?

We know that naturally produced digestive enzymes are crucial, but we decided to research whether a supplement is actually necessary, or if simple diet changes are enough to get the job done. 

We found that the depleting nutrient supply in our modern diets means that we need to squeeze the most nourishment that we can out of our food. We found that supplementing with the right digestive enzyme product can not only improve digestion, but help prevent future health issues

Research has only just begun connecting our gut health to other functions in our body, and starting with an enzyme supplement could be the way to whole-body health.

You May Benefit From A Digestive Enzyme Aid If You Have:

  • Constipation, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, & bloating.
  •  An age-related enzyme insufficiency.
  • Low stomach acid.
  •  Air, soil, and water pollution in your city.
  • Drinking water treated with fluoride.

With so many different digestive enzymes to choose from, it can get quite overwhelming. It can also be difficult to get a clear answer about what types of enzymes we need, the ideal serving sizes, and which formulas are most effective. There are multiple layers of complexity to consider when purchasing a digestive enzyme. 

We weren't surprised when many of our Smarter Shoppers reported regretting their first digestive enzyme purchase. With that in mind, we filtered through the clutter to find the top mistakes first-time digestive enzyme buyers make.

You May Be Buying the Wrong Digestive Enzyme if:

The labels lists dangerous fillers. 

Examples include: magnesium stearate, maltodextrin, silicon dioxide and artificial colors and flavors. 

Your supplement lacks potency or isn't full spectrum. 

Many cheaper digestive enzyme supplements don't contain the potency necessary for real results. Consumers end up spending more money by buying multiple supplements in order to get all the ingredients they need.

You rely on Amazon reviews. 

Up to 60% of these reviews are written by individuals paid to leave positive feedback. Be careful using this source exclusively to choose supplements.

The Right Digestive Enzyme Supplement Has:

Plant-based enzymes

Unlike their animal-based counterparts, these enzymes target guts with both low and moderate acidity. They also help relieve stress on your small intestine, making them generally more effective than animal-based enzymes.

Probiotics

More specifically, Saccharomyces boulardii, a yeast that's crucial for dairy digestion. In the long term, it can help balance your gut.

Doctor-Formulation

It takes expertise to form an digestive enzyme. Look for real doctors specializing in gut health backing the supplement.

Money-Back Guarantee

Invest in a digestive enzyme that offers a 100% money-back guarantee that shows the company's faith in its product.

When it comes to the enzymes themselves, make sure to choose a formula that includes the most clinically proven choices. We scoured through studies to find the top enzymes for effective digestion. 

Look for These Enzymes In a Full-Spectrum Blend: 

Protease

Proteases break down proteins into smaller polypeptides or single amino acids for nutritional absorption and optimal digestion.

Amylase

Amylase breaks the starch, sugar and fiber found in grains, fruits and vegetables down into smaller molecules.

Lipase

Lipase breaks down fats like butter, cheese, olive and fish oils into fatty acids and glycerol. Look for at least 2,000 FIPs.

Cellulase

Cellulase helps us digest fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, humans can't produce it naturally, so we need supplements or fermented foods.

Bromelaine

Sourced from pineapples, this proteolytic enzyme helps you digest proteins found in meats, nuts, cheese and grains.

Papain

Another crucial proteolytic enzyme for protein digestion, papain is sourced from papaya. Look for at least 800,000 PUs of papain per serving.

2021's Top 5 Digestive Enzyme Supplements 

We tested 37 different digestive enzyme supplements, and based on our 5 pillars of excellence: ingredient safety, projected effectiveness, value, return policy, and customer satisfaction, we narrowed the pool down to our top 5.