The old saying, "you are what you eat" isn't exactly correct. The reality is, you are what you digest. Eating health foods means little if you can't effectively absorb their vitamins and nutrients. That's where digestive enzymes come in, and they play a crucial role in making sure that you're getting those nutrients.
They're necessary for breaking down large molecules from the food you eat into smaller particles that can more easily flow into your system. More specifically, they help you digest the carbohydrates, fats and proteins that you need to survive.
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 are raving about their whole-body effects.
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. Additionally, as we age, we produce less digestive enzymes on our own. 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
As you can see, most of us could probably benefit from a digestive enzyme supplement. But digestive enzymes are confusing, and it's 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 label lists dangerous fillers, including:
- magnesium stearate
- silicon dioxide
- Artificial colors and flavors
- You prioritize low price over quality. We found that many lower-priced digestive enzyme supplements don't contain the potency necessary for real results. Some shoppers had to buy multiple supplements to get the ingredients they needed, which ultimately hurt their wallets more than helped.
- You rely on Amazon reviews. Up to 60% of these reviews are written by individuals paid to leave positive feedback. Risking your health with reviews that are likely false is too dangerous a game to play when you’re choosing an ingestible supplement.
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.
- A good 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:
- Bromelain. Sourced from pineapples, this proteolytic enzyme helps you digest proteins found in meats, nuts, cheese and grains. It's also an effective muscle aid. Look for at least 100 Gelatin-Dissolving Units (GDUs) per serving for best results.
- Papain. Another crucial proteolytic enzyme for protein digestion, papain is sourced from papaya. The best blends contain both bromelain and at least 800,000 PUs of papain per serving.
- Protease. This breaks down protein into its basic building blocks. Our digestive tract naturally creates these, but as we age, we begin producing less of them. That said, protease is a crucial component of any enzyme aid.
- Amylase. This enzyme is a type of carbohydrase that breaks the starch, sugar and fiber found in grains, fruits and vegetables down into smaller molecules. Look for at least 5,000 DU of amylase per serving.
- Cellulase. This carbohydrase is one of the basic building blocks of the plant kingdom, and helps us digest fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, humans can't produce it naturally. We need it from either fermented foods or supplements. For the latter, look for a blend with at least 2,000 CUs.
- Lipase. This breaks down fats like butter, cheese, olive and fish oils into fatty acids and glycerol. These then travel in blood and lymph vessels throughout our body to nourish and boost health. Try to find a supplement with at least 2,000 FIPs of lipase for the most effective results.
With these guidelines in mind, we scoured the market for the best enzyme supplements available today.
2018's Top 5 Digestive Enzyme Supplements
We tested 37 different digestive enzyme supplements, and based on our 5 pillars of excellence: ingredient safety, projective effectiveness, value, return policy, and customer satisfaction, we narrowed the pool down to our top 5.