With holiday festivities approaching, many people reach for digestive enzymes products to help avoid discomforts like bloating, belching, flatulence and to absorb more nutrients from their food.
Before you purchase your next digestive enzymes, here are some key differences between formulations, (especially if you have food sensitivities and/or allergies).
What are the main differences between enzymes formulations?
With all the different enzyme products on the market, there are still two main sources: fungus-derived and animal-derived.
Many are surprised to learn that formulas labeled as "Plant Enzymes" are typically not derived from plants, they are from the genus Aspergillus, which is a type of mould. Key to differentiate that moulds are not plants….they are fungus.
Enzymes derived from mould can be very effective at breaking down fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and also cellulose, which humans do not naturally digest. However, people with food sensitivities and allergies can have immune responses to them, which result in inflammation. This can cause bloating and digestive discomfort, which is ironic, as people who have allergies often use digestive enzymes to avoid exactly such problems.
Allergic potential to moulds
Many people react to moulds. So, to reduce the allergenic potential of Aspergillus enzymes, manufacturers "wash" them in an attempt to reduce or eliminate cell surface markers. These are what trigger your immune system, (i.e. makes your body recognize them as foreign.) But some manufacturers do this more effectively than others. When Aspergillus or other mould-derived enzymes are not cleaned properly immune responses are much more likely, and may very well go unsuspected in the people who consume them.
This isn't to say that Aspergillus enzymes are never effective, or that any given individual will necessarily react to them. Indeed, I have seen such formulas help many people with their digestion and health. Yet, I have also seen many react to them, causing more problems then they solve.
Grocery store food may have mould enzymes added
Further, it is important for people who deal with food sensitivities to know that these mould enzymes are found throughout the food supply in commercially prepared foods. For example, many breads prepared on an assembly line include "enzyme blends" to condition the dough so it cooks faster.
So if you deal with food allergies, and have tried to shed light on what you are reacting to, make sure to check the ingredient lists of breads and other baked goods for "enzyme blends", i.e. do not forget to consider Aspergillus and other mould enzymes as the culprit.
The alternative enzyme formulation we recommend...don’t mess with success!
Despite the movement toward plant (not mould) derived foods, for the reasons mentioned above, digestive enzymes are one situation where many would be much better-off using animal-derived pancreatin, and actual plant enzymes as their source of supplemental digestive enzymes. This was a big part of the motivation and rationale for the development our Opti-Digestaway formulation.
Why Opti-Digestaway is a better first option
Opti-Digestaway is a highly effective blend of enzymes and supportive nutrients from animals and plants. It is far less likely to cause problems for those who are sensitive.
Key ingredients include pancreatin which helps digest carbohydrates, fats and protein. Pepsin and betaine-HCl to support stomach acid levels, and further enhance protein digestion, along with papain and bromelain (from papaya and pineapple, respectively).
We also added Peppermint, Aloe Vera, and Ginger to increase digestive comfort.
Gentian plant extract was included as it significantly helps improve many digestive secretions. Barberry, which is often overlooked in other digestive enzymes blends, was also added to enhance bile secretion and better digest fats, which is very helpful for digesting high-fat meals (typical over the holiday season!)
Like all our formulas, Opti Digestaway was synergistically designed to effectively address as many digestive issues as possible. It has been extremely popular ever since we introduced it in 2012.
What should you choose? Go with the result...
In the end, everyone is individual, and when choosing a digestive aid you have to judge by the results you observe for yourself. Results to look for are faster emptying of you stomach, less feelings of bloating and fullness, and less gas.
For other signs you may benefit from digestive enzymes, consult our prior article on the subject - 8 Signs You May Need To Supplement With Digestive Enzymes
Cheers, and happy digesting for the holidays!
Surface Antigens of Intact Aspergillus fumigatus Mycelium: their Localization Using Radiolabelled Protein A as Marker By VERONICA M. HEARN Mycological Reference Laboratory, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WClE 7HT, UK Journal of General Microbiology (1984), 130, 907-917.