Digestive Enzymes for Weight Loss: How Do They Work?

Digestive enzymes are known to help in managing symptoms of digestive problems like bloating and gas. But there is evidence that suggests complex action of these digestive enzymes can promote weight loss.

When combined with the right diet, these enzymes can help you maintain a healthy weight.

Digestive enzymes are released throughout your digestion, starting from the mouth and continuing to the stomach, liver, pancreas, and small intestine. These enzymes mix with your food, helping in better digestion and absorption.

When your body lacks these digestive enzymes, it results in improper digestion of your food causing unpleasant symptoms like gas and bloating.

Read on to find out how these digestive enzymes can contribute to your weight loss.

Digestive Enzymes for weight loss

What Are Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are nothing but enzymes secreted from your gastrointestinal tract to degrade proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. These enzymes break down your food into smaller components to help your body absorb the nutrients (1).

There are several types of digestive enzymes having different roles; some of them are:

  • Lipase – to break down lipids(fats) into glycerol and fatty acids
  • Protease – helps to break down protein into amino acids
  • Amylase – breaks complex carbs into starches and simple sugars
  • Lactase – breaks down lactase
  • Sucrase – breaks down sucrose into glucose and fructose

These enzymes support your digestive health, ensuring maximum absorption of nutrition. They play a significant role in converting food into energy and in specific biochemical processes.

Though digestive enzymes are naturally synthesized in your body, their supplementation may be recommended in certain disorders having impaired digestive functions. Digestive enzyme supplementation is also used in the management of lactose intolerance and celiac diseases (2).

Some lifestyle habits and health conditions can affect your body’s ability to synthesize enzymes. Heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, nutritional deficiencies, and inflammation may affect your digestive enzymes’ secretion.

The surrounding environment influences the synthesis and activity of digestive enzymes. We need a healthy digestive tract, balanced pH, and required gut microbiome for the proper functioning of digestion. Better digestion helps in the removal of toxic substances from your body, leading to better weight management. 

To improve your digestion eat healthy enzyme-rich foods. You can also consider taking supplements that can support your digestion and help you absorb all the micronutrients bringing quick results.

Summary: Digestive enzymes help in digestion by breaking down food into smaller particles. They are naturally synthesized in your body and are also available in the supplement form. Improper functioning of digestive enzymes can lead to poor digestive health and accumulation of weight.

Digestive Enzymes and Weight Loss

If you feel your digestion is sluggish, digestive enzymes can enhance your digestion process. By taking enzyme-rich food or with the help of supplements, you can achieve better digestion and weight loss.

Better Absorption of Nutrition 

It is believed that fat malabsorption is one of the most common causes of obesity, and it arises from defects in fat digestion and absorption. Digestive enzymes play a crucial role in healthy digestion and nutrient absorption (3).

If your gut health is affected or digestion is not functioning correctly, it results in a deficiency of nutrients or micronutrition. Digestive enzymes improve your gut health, enhance absorption of nutrients, and thus aid in weight loss.

Many times natural enzymes present in food get disrupted during cooking or processing, disrupting the overall health. Unhealthy eating habits and low nutrient absorption leads to water retention and weight build-up.

Unhealthy foods that trigger the disruption of the digestion process are:

  • Junk food
  • Process food
  • Added sugar
  • Chemicals present in foods like additives and preservatives

Adding digestive enzymes to your diet optimizes your nutrition absorption. It also helps to ease conditions such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation (4) (5).

Summary: Nutrient absorption is essential to maintain health and for the proper functioning of your body. The digestive enzymes support your digestive health utilizing all the nutrients and contributing to your weight loss.

Regulates Bowel Movements 

Unhealthy eating habits like processed food take two to three times longer to pass through your digestive tract. Improper digestion, constipation, gas, and bloating – all these contribute to weight gain. Adding digestive enzymes to your diet fastens the passage of waste. This helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Your colon can have impacted waste, causing bloating and increased weight. Digestive enzymes facilitate the removal of waste from your body.

Summary: Digestive enzymes regulate bowel movement and fasten the waste removal. It relieves bloating, gas, and constipation.

Supports Healthy Microbiome 

An unhealthy diet can harm the delicate balance of the microbiome present in your gut. Compromised gut microbiome leads to the weakening of immunity, making you vulnerable to illnesses and diseases.

Digestive enzymes promote healthy growth of the gut microbiome and better digestion. According to Harvard Medical School, digestive enzymes and their supplements can significantly support gut health (6).

Summary: Digestive enzymes support a healthy gut microbiome, leading to better digestion and strong immunity.

Foods Containing Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes can trigger your metabolism, increasing the rate of digestion, and waste elimination from your body. Eating foods containing digestive enzymes can improve your digestion and can contribute to your weight loss journey.

 Natural food sources of digestive enzymes are:

  • Papaya – a tropical fruit that contains protease called papain. According to studies, papaya is a natural remedy for digestive problems (7).
  • Bananas – contain amylase and glucosidase enzymes that help to break down carbs. Also, bananas contain dietary fibers that aids in digestive health (8).
  • Avocados – contain the digestive enzyme lipase that helps in the digestion of fats (9). They help in easy digestion of a fat-containing meal.
  • Kefir – is fermented milk that looks like curd. It has various digestive enzymes like lipase, lactase, and protease (10). It also improves lactose digestion and can help to overcome lactose intolerance (11).
  • Kiwi fruit – is an excellent source of digestive enzymes. It contains actinidin that helps to ease the digestion of tough meat (12).
  • Ginger – contain proteases that help to digest proteins. Ginger also boosts your body’s ability to produce more digestive enzymes (13).

The digestive enzymes can be obtained from food or from supplements. If you are unable to meet your enzyme needs from food, consider taking supplements.

Summary: Various natural foods sources contain digestive enzymes. Adding them to your diet can improve your gut health, leading to better digestion.

Various Supplements of Digestive Enzymes Helping in Weight Loss

Generally, raw foods contain digestive enzymes, which are enough for regular digestion. However, cooking and processing of the food destroy these enzymes. This may lead to a deficiency of digestive enzymes and improper digestion. In such conditions, digestive enzyme supplements can help you ease your digestion.

Although there is less evidence supporting digestive enzymes causing weight loss, they improve your gut health and digestion. These enzyme supplements can be beneficial to promote digestion as well as weight loss.

Research studies suggest that the more the digestive enzymes in your body, the faster the digestion process. Hence consuming digestive enzyme supplements and having a healthy diet can improve your body’s ability to lose weight.

Digestive enzymes may not directly contribute to weight loss, but it maintains good digestive health meeting your long-term weight loss goals (14) (15).

Amylase is a starch degrading enzyme that helps to break down carbohydrates into polysaccharides and disaccharides. It breaks carbs into simple sugar. Protease enzyme is produced by the pancreas, deficiency of which can lead to the accumulation of undigested proteins.

Enzyme supplements contain protease, which helps to reduce stress on your pancreas.  Similarly, lipase not only breaks fat into fatty acid and glycerol, but it also enhances the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids.

Lipase supplement ensures optimal digestion of fats and absorption of nutrients. Thus enzyme supplements play various roles in the breakdown of food and absorption of nutrients, contributing to weight loss.

Summary: If you have digestion issues, it can be due to a lack of digestive enzymes. Adding supplements containing digestive enzymes can help you attain good digestive health and promote weight loss.

Other Health Benefits of Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes not only help you with better digestion but also carry various other health benefits.

  • Digestive enzymes help manage inflammatory diseases like inflammatory bowel syndrome (16), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
  • Digestive enzyme supplementation helps with food sensitivities and lactose intolerance (17).
  • With better absorption of nutrients, all the inflammation in your body reduces, resulting in healthy glowing skin (18).
  • With reduced inflammation, you will experience less fatigue and headache. With digestive enzyme amylase converting carbohydrates into glucose, you will have a smooth supply of energy.
  • Proper gut health helps to reduce anxiety, depression, and sleep issues.
  • 90% of your serotonin is synthesized in the gut, resulting in better mental health, focus, and productivity (19).
  • Digestive enzymes support strong immunity minimizing the risk of inflammation and autoimmune diseases.

Your gut health contributes to your overall health. Digestive enzymes play a significant role in your gut health, helping your body to heal.

Possible Side Effects of Digestive Enzymes

As long as you follow the proper dosage, digestive enzymes are safe and carry minimal side effects. Excessive consumption may trigger side effects such as stomach pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and cramps.

There is no standard dosage for enzyme supplements. FDA does not approve over-the-counter enzyme supplements, and dosage may vary, causing unpleasant side effects (20). Make sure the supplements you are using are safe and consult your doctor before taking any digestive enzyme supplements.

Pregnant and lactating women are advised not to consume these supplements without a doctor’s approval. If you experience any side effects with these enzyme supplements, seek immediate medical care.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Causes Digestive Enzyme Deficiency?

One of the major causes of digestive enzyme deficiency is the low functioning of your pancreas.

Other reasons for digestive enzyme deficiency include alcohol abuse, nutrient deficiency, gallstones blocking pancreatic juice flow, a high-calorie diet, and insulin resistance or diabetes.

Smoking, aging, food sensitivity, and intestinal inflammation can also cause digestive enzyme deficiency.

What are the Symptoms of Digestive Enzyme Insufficiency?

The digestive enzyme insufficiency symptoms include bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain or discomfort, irritable bowel type symptoms, diarrhea, and constipation.

Long term effects of digestive enzyme deficiency are obesity, intolerance to food, poor immunity, depression, and fatigue.

Does Eating Raw Food Sufficient for Meeting the Body’s Digestive Enzyme Needs?

Though raw food provides enough enzymes to boost your digestion, it is not practical nor advisable. Certain foods can not be consumed raw. Also, the high fiber content of raw food makes it difficult to digest.

If you have digestion problems due to the lack of digestive enzymes, then you should consider taking digestive enzyme supplements.

Why Should I use Digestive Enzymes for Weight loss?

Digestive enzymes ensure a healthy gut and improved digestion. This supports your weight loss journey in the long run. A healthy gut also improves overall health and enhances your immunity.

How do I Choose Right Enzyme Supplements for my Needs?

Choose a blend of various enzymes for improving your digestion. With better digestion, your body absorbs more nutrients and improves the removal of waste. You can also take an enzyme deficiency test to choose therapeutic enzymes.

The Final Note

Our gut health plays a significant role in the process of digestion and waste elimination. When your bowels are functioning correctly, and food is getting digested well without turning into fat, it results in better weight management.

Digestive enzymes are not an instant solution for your weight loss. It is a healthy way of managing weight, which supports healthy weight in the long term. It has no harmful effects; hence it’s worth a try.

Lifestyle factors like stress, smoking, and alcohol consumption also affect your digestion. Mindful eating, reducing stress in your life, and chewing the food properly helps in a better release of digestive enzymes. Include digestive enzymes in your diet for better health and weight management.

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