Do Digestive Enzyme Supplements Work?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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Digestive enzyme supplements are available in the health food store or pharmacy. They are typically used to improve digestive health by increasing the number of bacteria and enzymes used to break down food into its molecular level. This is a critical part of the digestive process.

There are three reasons that people use digestive enzyme supplements: digestive diseases, indigestion, and compromised immune systems. The popularity of these products has increased dramatically in the last ten years due to an increased interest in alternative medicines and supplements. These supplements are marketed as a safe way to reduce abdominal bloat, increase vitality and improve overall digestive health.

In order to determine if digestive enzyme supplements work, it is important to understand how the digestive system works. The purpose of the digestive system is to break down food and liquids into their molecular particles. The body uses these molecules as building blocks for cells and to provide a source of energy.

Four different glands in the body secrete digestive enzymes: salivary, stomach, pancreas, and small intestine. Each set of glands releases a different combination of enzymes to break the food down at that particular stage of the digestive process. The glands automatically adjust to provide the required concentration and mixture of enzymes required for each stage.


Digestive enzyme supplements are typically sold in a pill format. This pill contains all the different enzymes required for digestion. The theory is that by adding more enzymes to the digestive system, they will work to improve the efficiency of the body and improve digestion. There are three issues with this theory: method of input, distribution, and effectiveness.

When you swallow a pill, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach work to dissolve the pill coating. Once it is dissolved, the pill contents are added to your stomach. The levels of acid and active enzymes in the stomach are designed to break down all material for absorption or elimination. There is no scientific proof that synthetic enzymes can survive this process.

Digestive enzymes are used at all stages of digestion. It is impossible to determine if the enzymes that entered the stomach through a pill are transported to the correct location in the small intestine. As part of the stomach contents, they would move through the small intestine as during the absorption and elimination process. Synthetic supplements can have the same basic molecular structure, but they are synthetic. There is no proof that the body recognizes these molecules as enzymes and does not simply eliminate them as waste.


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Post 6

I definitely have a great weight loss every week when I take digestive enzymes.

Post 5

There are so many vitamins and minerals that are deficient in the food we eat, and the important part is that these vital minerals are needed by the body for proper functioning. Take a digestive enzymes supplement that contains all the digestive bacteria needed for proper digestion of food.

Post 4

My family, including myself, have always had digestive issues one way or another. Due to this I tend to keep a fairly healthy diet including fresh fruit, veggies, grains, etc.

I have been taking two pills per day also from the Dr Max Powers 15 Day Cleanse. One when I wake up and one pill about eight hours later in the afternoon.

My bowel functions have regulated and become easier. I do not feel any nausea upon taking these pills on an empty stomach and the pills do not have a strong taste or after-taste. I have also felt a slight change in energy level. I am usually a bit fatigued and sore due to anemia, but lately I have been feeling less fatigue and a bit more energy. So far there is nothing I do not like about this product and I intend on keeping up with my daily routine.

Post 3

These aren't for weight loss. The most common enzymes included in OTC pills are the basic enzymes: Protease, Lipase, Amylase (sometimes lactase and cellulase) sourced from various bacterial and fungal sources. Alternative ingredients often accompany these basic, fungal/ bacterial enzymes and often include bromelain and other herbal enzymes.

These aren't the same enzymes that humans produce during normal digestion - but many of them serve similar functions. When taken with food, the contents of the stomach are pH buffered to a value between 3-5, which is more than adequate for the immediate effects of a wide variety of supplemental enzymes.

These pill supplements should be thought of as "pre-digesting chemicals" not replacements for our own native enzymes. They will make digestion easier, especially for athletes (who consume huge portions of healthy foods) or people with taxed or sensitive GI systems - but they will not make you lose weight, have more energy, or any other crap claim you see on the net.

Post 2

Weight loss will occur if you had excess water retention due to digestive problems, but otherwise pro biotic use will not work as a weight loss tool.

Post 1

Can you use digestive enzymes pills to lose weight?

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