I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.” I often clarify by saying, “you are what you digest and absorb.” If you don’t properly absorb the nutrients in your food, whatever you eat simply passes through your body. Digestion is a four-step process that turns your food into fuel. There are many benefits to digestive enzymes for gut health, and optimal gut health relies on digestive enzymes to break down what you eat. Digestive enzyme benefits are plentiful and so crucial to the digestive process.

If you have an enzyme deficiency, you may experience symptoms like foul-smelling stools, bloating or gas, and fatigue. Adding digestive enzymes alleviates these uncomfortable feelings by breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into more digestible particles. This help your body absorb the nutrients in your food more efficiently. It can also aid in maintaining a healthy weight and immune system.

Your body connects in more ways that you can imagine! Read on to learn why enzymes are important, how to take digestive enzymes, when to take digestive enzymes, and much more.

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Benefits of Digestive Enzymes

What are digestive enzymes, and why are they important? Digestive enzymes are proteins your body naturally makes to break down the food you eat. Several types of natural enzymes exist, and each has a distinctive role. All digestive enzymes are hydrolases, meaning they use water molecules to break food down. This process breaks food down into its basic building blocks, such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. 1

I briefly discussed different digestive enzymes and their roles in gut health earlier. These enzymes come in many forms. There are protein-digesting enzymes, enzymes that digest starches and carbohydrates, and enzymes that digest fats. 

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The primary digestive enzymes include:

  • Amylase: Salivary amylase is, as the name implies, found in saliva. It’s also found in pancreatic and stomach juices. Salivary amylase breaks down carbs and starches into simple sugars
  • Lactase: Breaks down lactose, a natural sugar in milk, into the simple sugars glucose and galactose
  • Lipase: A digestive enzyme in the stomach and pancreas that breaks down lipids (fats) into fatty acids and glycerol
  • Protease: Found in the stomach, pancreas, and intestine, this natural enzyme breaks down protein into amino acids
  • Maltase: The maltase enzyme beaks down malt sugar and turns it into glucose
  • Sucrase: The sucrase enzyme breaks down sugar into glucose and fructose3

Dietary fiber doesn’t break down during the digestive process. Fiber has no nutritional value, yet it is very beneficial to the digestive process. That’s because fiber provides food for the good bacteria, contributes to fecal bulk, and helps move waste out.2

Four Benefits of Digestive Enzymes

Because you are what you digest and absorb, you need a full range of nutrient-dense foods and digestive enzymes to process your food. This way, your body can use it for energy, cell production, and development.

Some of the biggest reasons to take digestive enzymes:

Digestive Enzymes Support Optimal Weight: While enzymes don’t directly make you lose weight, they help regulate nutrient absorption and elimination. This prevents your body from hanging on to unhealthy calories that may lead to weight fluctuations. 

Digestive Enzymes Promote a Healthy Immune System: Enzymes help ease the burden of digestion. This process alone enables other cells to operate at their best. This includes your immune cells, which are created in your gut. 

Digestive Enzymes Facilitate a Healthy Inflammatory Response: When proteins don’t break down well enough, they can trigger an inflammatory response in the body. Enzymes help reduce unhealthy levels of inflammation by breaking these proteins down. This encourages an optimal gut health environment. 

Digestive Enzymes Break Down Gluten and Lactose: Undigested gluten and dairy proteins contribute to the rise of food sensitivity cases. Enzymes can be helpful to many people with gluten and lactose intolerances. 

In addition, a healthy gut has been linked to better mental health, helping lower feelings of depression and anxiety.A lack of these enzymes can disrupt the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. For example, if you have diabetes, a lack of digestive enzymes can contribute to blood glucose spikes. Diabetes can cause an impairment in the metabolism of sugars. This is also associated with the abnormal metabolism of fats and proteins.3 

As you age, your body’s natural ability to produce digestive enzymes weakens. While a decline in digestive enzyme production is part of the natural aging process, certain factors can speed this process up. One example of this is food high in processed sugar. Let’s look closer at the relationship between digestive enzymes and aging.

You can see there are many different enzymes your body needs to function at its best. To get a full understanding, let’s take a deeper dive into how they play an active role in the digestive process.

Digestion Is A Four-Step Process

The digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), the liver, the pancreas, and the gallbladder. The GI tract begins at your mouth and ends at the anus. Throughout this journey are checkpoints at the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. At these checkpoints, your food comes into contact with enzymes and acids to break down your food. These enzymes and acids come together to form digestive juices.

Here’s how it works. 

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Step 1: Ingestion

A common misconception is that the digestive process begins when you put food in your mouth. It actually starts long before that. Next time you smell or think about food, notice how watery your mouth is. That’s because your saliva glands produce saliva in preparation for encountering that first bite of food. Once you’ve taken a bite, your saliva helps lubricate and break down food. One way your saliva breaks down food is with the digestive enzyme amylase. This enzyme breaks down gluten and carbohydrates. If you have a gluten intolerance, that usually means you’ve stopped producing the amylase enzyme.4 I’ll talk more about that in just a moment. 

Step 2: Digestion

The next step is digestion. Salivary amylase breaks down your food and helps you swallow. This propels food down your esophagus, which connects your mouth to your stomach. As it arrives, the food is met with more digestive enzymes and stomach acids.

There are multiple enzymes in your stomach. For example, protease and hydrochloric acid break down proteins, including whey and casein. These are typically found in gastric juices. Your pancreas sends more protease and amylase to break down proteins, fats, and gluten. Peptidases, sucrase, lactase, and lactase are also produced. These enzymes help break  down peptides, sucrose, lactose, and maltase.

Gluten and dairy are two foods I recommend everyone remove from their diet. Gluten, whey and casein proteins are some of the biggest culprits behind the skyrocketing rates of chronic illness and autoimmune disease.

Optimizing your digestion requires a few key ingredients. Some of my favorites include collagen protein and probiotics. I also like detoxing agents like coconut charcoal. Using a proprietary herbal blend to target candida overgrowth is also helpful.

Step 3: Absorption

Once these digestive juices mix together, your food moves into your small intestine. This is where the nutrients are delivered to your bloodstream. This nourishes your cells, enabling them to support normal body functions.

If you have a leaky gut, other things make their way into your bloodstream as well. Picture your gut as a drawbridge. Your gut is naturally semi-permeable. This means teeny-tiny boats (or micronutrients) pass through your intestinal wall and into your bloodstream. Infections, certain foods, toxins, and stress can loosen the tight junctions in your intestinal wall. This leaves the drawbridge open. Once this happens, you officially have a leaky gut.

When your gut is leaky, much larger boats can escape into your bloodstream. These “boats” can include toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles. Your immune system marks these foreign invaders as pathogens and attacks them. The good news is that you can repair a leaky gut. The 4R approach is a proven approach that I recommend to all of my patients to begin repairing their gut.

Step 4: Elimination

What’s left after your body removes the nutrients and proteins in your food? You get a combination of water, electrolytes, and waste products. Waste products can include plant fiber and dead cells from the digestive tract. This excess solid waste material gets transported to the large intestine, absorbing water. The remaining products get transformed into stool, which gets pushed out of the anus.

Now that you’re familiar with how your digestive system works, it’s easier to understand how these natural enzymes play a prominent role. Let’s look more at the benefits of digestive enzymes.

Both probiotics and enzymes are elements of a healthy digestive system, but are they the same? They’re not, and here’s why. Natural enzymes help break down your food. Probiotics are microorganisms that inhabit your gut, promoting optimal biological and physiological function. 

Digestive Enzymes and Aging

Have you ever heard someone jokingly say, “I’ve lost the enzyme that helps me digest Taco Bell?” While no specific enzyme helps you digest that Crunchwrap Supreme, your body does “lose” digestive enzymes. Let me explain.  

Natural enzyme production weakens as you age for various reasons. It could be because of your diet, stress, chronic illness, or a sedentary lifestyle. It could also be due to you getting older. Once enzyme production slows down, it impacts the health of your entire digestive tract. This limits the amount of nutrients you can absorb and utilize. 

Here are some signs that indicate you may have an enzyme deficiency:

  • Bulky, foul-smelling stools
  • Feeling full, even if you haven’t overeaten
  • Gas, bloating, or flatulence
  • Heartburn or burping
  • Lack of energy
  • Undigested food in stool
  • Weight loss even while eating an optimal diet

Enzyme supplementation can support your overall digestive process. It also helps ensure you don’t experience discomfort from the food you eat. Digestive enzymes can also promote optimal absorption of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients your foods contain. Let me tell you how!

Reap Digestive Enzyme Benefits 

The problem is that a poor diet, exposure to toxins, and excess alcohol consumption wreak havoc on your health. Not only does it impair gut health, it also slows down natural enzyme production. Aging also plays a role in this process. The good news is, there is a solution!

I formulated Complete Enzymes to support optimal protein digestion and nutrient absorption. The secret lies in the broad spectrum of digestive enzymes. When taken before a meal, this physician-formulated supplement breaks down peptides, proteins, carbohydrates, disaccharides, sugars, lipids/fats, and vegetable fiber. I take Complete Enzymes every day!

Additionally, I included DPP-IV in Complete Enzymes. This ingredient helps break down gluten in the case of being glutened. Gluten is one food I recommend everyone eliminate from their diet. The sad reality is it’s very hard to do because gluten is hiding everywhere!

In fact, Complete Enzymes do more than help you digest. They also support a healthy inflammatory response. Additionally, they assist with keeping harmful bacteria in check, promoting a healthy microbiome. The broad-spectrum blend of proteolytic enzymes helps break down inflammatory foods.

A question that pops up a lot is how to take digestive enzymes. These supplements are taken by mouth, typically 30 minutes before a meal. I have found that some people may have a hard time swallowing capsules. That’s why I created a chewable version to provide an equal way to benefit. My Complete Enzyme Chewables are an easy and quick way to prep your digestive system for maximum nutrient absorption. They are perfect for busy schedules because you simply chew them before a meal without even needing a glass of water.

The Final Word on Benefits of Digestive Enzymes

While you can’t stop Mother Nature, you can slow her down. Why are enzymes necessary is a question many people ask, and now that you know you can confidently share this information with others!

What are digestive enzymes? They’re the superheroes that help with the digestive process. They ensure you get the most out of the nutritious food you eat. You know you need digestive enzymes if you regularly experience bloating, gas, foul-smelling stool, or a lack of energy after a meal. 

Curious about when to take digestive enzymes? I recommend adding Complete Enzymes before each meal. This powerful supplement helps restore gut health and encourages thorough digestion and absorption. I never leave home without a bottle of Complete Enzymes


How do I know if I need digestive enzymes?

Any discomfort you feel during digestion likely means you need digestive enzymes. Gas, bloating, feeling full, or have low energy are common signs.


Is it good to take digestive enzymes every day?

If you’re eating a well-balanced diet, you may not need to take digestive enzyme supplements. However, those healing from leaky gut or chronic illness may benefit from daily digestive enzymes. This helps facilitate the gut repair process.


Is there a downside to taking digestive enzymes?

Some people may experience mild side effects when taking digestive enzymes. These can include nausea, gas, bloating, and stomach cramps. It’s essnetial to only buy supplements from third-party verified. This ensures quality and safety.


When should I take digestive enzymes?

Your digestive success lies in knowing when to take digestive enzymes. For best results, enzyme supplementation should be taken before a meal with a glass of water.

Article Sources

  1. Will digestive enzymes help IBS?. Danielle Dresden. Medical News Today. 2022.
  2. Should You Take a Digestive Enzyme Supplement?. Tamara Duker Freuman, MS, RD, CDN. U.S. News & World Report. 2020.
  3. Digestive Enzymes: An Unexpected Diabetes Game Changer. Diabetes.co.uk. 2016.
  4. Amylase - blood. David C. Dugdale, III, MD. Mount Sinai. 2021.