Enzyme Supplement Applications
Enzyme Supplement Applications Over the last year, the digestive health product category grew more than 12% with enzyme-based products contributing substantially to increased sales. Digestive health impacts every aspect of our lives, both directly and indirectly. Gastric discomfort, bloating, gas and flatulence are directly linked to poor digestion but low energy, poor sleep, and the lack of general wellbeing may also result. According to Enzymes, Inc.’s Director of Operations, Sam Lingo, “There is no question digestive enzymes have shifted into high gear becoming more main stream than ever before. It seems digestive enzymes are everywhere; from small, online Etailers to the large box stores on every corner. In addition, enzymes consumed for systemic benefits are gaining in popularity.”
There are many different enzymes used in dietary supplements but most may be categorized as proteases, carbohydrases, lipases or antioxidant enzymes. Protease is a general term that refers to all enzymes that break the amino acid bonds of proteins. A diverse group of enzymes, the carbohydrases break down carbohydrates including starch, sugars and various fibers. Lipases help digest dietary fats ensuring the availability of fatty acids and fat soluble nutrients. Antioxidant enzymes are also commonly used as supplements to help combat damage caused by free radicals. Table One summarizes some of the digestive and systemic uses of supplemental enzymes.
TABLE ONE. Condition-Specific Nutritional Enzyme Supplement Summary DIGESTION
Indigestion Vitamin/Mineral Delivery Flatulence
X fiber-breaking enzymes fiber-breaking enzymes & α-galactosidase
Gluten Intolerance Dairy Intolerance Autism Xylanase
X X X
Lactase X X
Body building (BCAA) Athletic Training Support Oral Enzyme Replacement
Probiotic Support Weight Management
Immune Support Cardiovascular Support Antioxidant Support
Joint & Soft Tissue Recovery
X X X
SOD Lactoferrin, Lysozyme, Lactoperoxidase Lactoferrin OTHER
Lactoferrin, Lysozyme, SOD SOD Lactoferrin, Lysozyme, Lactoperoxidase, SOD Lactoferrin, SOD
DIGESTION and DIGESTIVE DISCOMFORT
Gluten intolerance is also a growing concern throughout the world. Gluten is a group of complex gluconated peptides found in wheat, barley, rye and certain other cereals. Rich in the amino acid proline, glutens are resistant to digestion and may cause gastric discomfort in sensitive individuals. Typically the only option for sensitive individuals is a gluten-free diet, however researchers are investigating the ability of different proteases to digest glutens. This research has identified certain supplemental proteases that can increase the digestion of gluten. BioCore® DPPiv is a blend of proteases that provides dipeptidyl peptidase IV acitivity—an enzyme that has been shown to hydrolyze gluten. Other proteases including Nearly everyone can benefit from digestive enzyme supplebromelain and papain may also help break down glutens ments. According to Lisa Helffrich, Director of Education and help reduce the associated discomfort. Proteolytic for Transformation Enzyme Corporation (TEC), “Processed blends may provide digestive benefits for low levels of glufoods, use of pesticides, herbicides and GMO’s and fast paced ten consumption. TEC offers a comprehensive digestive high stressed lives all compromise digestive function and blend containing 10 carbohydrases, lipases and a DPPivdelivery of nutrients to our cells. The astronomical rise in containing protease blend known as TPP Carbo-G. Acallergies, asthma, autism and ADD in our children is proof cording to Helffrich, health care professionals utilizing that our food and environment is significantly different today this blend with their patients have reported improvements compared to just 50 years ago. Every cell of the body, regard- in both digestive health and inflammation. “Many allergyless of its location, structure, or function requires nutrients. like reactions start in the gut with compromised digesDigestive enzymes, along with a healthy diet, support the tion. When you support complete digestion of all foods availability of nutrients to the cells. Everyone can benefit you strengthen intestinal integrity and lessen the triggers from better digestion. Every cell, tissue, organ and system of for systemic inflammation. This is beneficial for everyone, the body depends on optimal nutrient intake and optimal not just those with known food intolerances.” digestive function in order to achieve health and wellness. ” Dairy intolerance is experienced by the majority of the In 2004, the USDA Food and Nutrition Information Cenworld’s population and while much of the problem is atter reported that acid reflux or GERD affected 60 million tributable to lactase deficiency, digestion-resistant proAmericans. Helffrich explains, “The root cause is a lack of teins such as β-lactoglobulin may also contribute to the enzymes, not excess acid production. Undigested food in condition. Lactase deficiency is the most widely recogthe stomach increases the pressure on the lower esophageal nized enzyme deficiency with nearly 70% of the world’s sphincter (LES) which increases the chance for stomach adult population producing deficient levels of the enzyme. contents to re-enter the esophagus. The undigested food also Dairy foods contain the sugar lactose normally digested signals continued secretion of acid. But when food is digestby lactase. Insufficient levels of lactase can result in gastric ed, with the support of supplemental enzymes, there is less discomfort including bloating, flatulence, diarrhea and pressure on the LES, less risk for regurgitation and the signal abdominal pain. Studies indicate that supplemental lacis received to stop secreting acid. The answer is to promote tase can help reduce this discomfort and allow individuals digestion with enzyme supplements not to neutralize or to consume dairy foods3 Milk protein includes casein and block acid production. ” β-lactoglobulin along with certain other proteins that are Enzyme supplements have a long history of use as digestive aids. Before the turn of the 20th century, Dr. Jokichi Takamine had developed a fungal amylase supplement to aid digestion. In the 1920’s, Dr. Edward Howell recognized the vital role that food enzymes play in promoting digestion and formulated products to replace those enzymes lost in the cooking and processing of food. The loss of food enzymes creates a digestive burden for the human body that results in discomfort and indigestion. Supplemental digestive enzymes work with the body’s digestive enzymes to enhance the digestive process and may reduce the occurrence of digestive discomfort.
resistant to both acid hydrolysis and enzymatic digestion by either pepsin or the pancreatic proteases. In vitro testing indicated that blends of supplemental fungal proteases are able to break down these proteins. Products that combine lactase with blends of proteases that digest milk proteins may be especially suited for individuals who have digestive issues associated with dairy foods. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is often associated with an increased incidence of digestive complaints and food intolerances. Broad spectrum digestive enzyme supplements may be beneficial in reducing occasional gastric discomfort. Specific enzyme combinations may be especially relevant for this population including certain carbohydrases and proteases. TEC recently introduced an easy to use powdered formula, Kidz Digest Powder. Helffrich states, “In our testing phase we asked practitioners to give it to their ASD patients. The feedback was very positive for acceptance of taste and texture, tolerance and efficacy in terms of improving digestion health and behavior patterns.” According to Devin Houston, Ph.D., President and CEO of Houston Enzymes, “Some studies have shown an actual decrease in certain carbohydrase enzymes in the guts of children with autism. Many of the digestive complaints associated with autism including gas, bloating and loose stools may be associated with undigested or partially digested carbohydrates. Supplementing amylase, glucoamylase, and lactase insure conversion of carbohydrates to simple sugars, helping maintain normal levels of bacterial populations and providing better formed stools.” Houston also discussed sensitivity to foods high in polyphenolic compounds which may occur among certain individuals including those with ASD. Common dietary sources of these compounds include certain fruits, vegetables, spices, cocoa, tea, preservatives, artificial flavors and food colors. Sensitivity related symptoms include red blushing of the chest, face and ears with occasional behavioral problems. Fortunately, Houston and others have observed that enzymes such as xylanase may allow individuals to consume polyphenol-containing foods. Houston believes that “the mechanism of action may be
related to the conversion of the non-absorbable form to the absorbable aglycone polyphenol.” Other research indicates that some individuals with ASD may benefit from dietary elimination of wheat and dairy foods due to intolerances. Houston explains that these proteins “can produce small peptides with bioactive properties during normal digestion. The large majority of people are not affected by these peptides but those on the autism spectrum can exhibit behavioral and dietary problems associated with these opiate-like peptides.” Unfortunately, gluten- and casein-free diets are often difficult and expensive to maintain. These proteins are also sometimes “hidden” in packaged foods. According to Houston, “many parents have found similar results by supplementing certain protease enzymes with their child’s meals.” These enzymes begin the process of breaking down gluten, casein, soy and other dietary proteins in the stomach, supporting more complete digestion and potentially eliminating the opportunity for intestinal absorption of the bioactive peptides. Enzyme supplements may have the ability to significantly impact the quality of life for these children. Houston indicated that supplementation of lipase blends may be an area of future innovation. “Many children on the spectrum benefit from ketogenic or high-fat diets. Many others have increased supplementation of omega-containing oils. This increase in fat intake can be uncomfortable for many. The use of high-lipase enzyme products may be recommended in these cases.” Dr. Houston reported that two studies investigating the use of enzyme supplements in children with ASD are currently under way. WEIGHT MANAGEMENT Broad spectrum digestive enzyme products can be an excellent addition to a healthy diet and exercise to support healthy weight management. Digestive enzyme supplements help ensure that individuals have a healthy nutrient baseline and may help eliminate cravings. Transglucosidase is relatively new to the US supplement market and has been acknowledged by the FDA as a New Dietary Ingredient (NDI). This enzyme has the ability to convert
glucose from starch to non-digestible oligosaccharides. This reduces the availability of absorbable glucose and caloric intake. Lipases may also support healthy weight management through satiation mechanisms. Epidemiological studies and animal research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids may increase satiety or the feeling of fullness after a meal. Free fatty acids are believed to play a key role in the brain to regulate energy homeostasis.
are expensive. Blends of supplemental proteases, such as BioCore® EDGE, can improve digestion and may increase the availability of key amino acids. NEC’s Strategic Account Manager, Patrick Kuruk, MS in exercise physiology, explains that “adding EDGE to a sports nutrition protein product can indirectly increase protein synthesis and muscle growth via improved availability of the branched chain amino acids including leucine.”
Proteolytic enzymes may also be beneficial in weight management programs. High protein diets are a common approach and National Enzyme Company’s Director of Product Development and Innovation, Richard Mihalik explains that proteases may be added to high protein diets or shakes to support complete digestion and satiation. TEC’s Helffrich emphasizes the role of systemic proteases in a healthy weight loss regimen. “Proteases taken between meals improve circulation supporting timely removal of toxins and metabolic waste. Also, in our clinical practice we have seen a reduction in inflammation and fluid retention as evidenced by lab testing and bio-impedance analysis. This is another way proteases can support healthy weight management programs.”
Exercise Recovery may also be enhanced by the use of systemic proteases. Research indicates that these enzymes may be absorbed into the bloodstream where they exhibit antiinflammatory and fibrinolytic effects. Clinical researchers have found that systemic protease supplementation may decrease delayed-onset muscle soreness associated with exercise. This randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study showed that use of the product significantly reduced measures of pain and tenderness associated with exercise. SOD is another enzyme which may be beneficial after intense training. Intense exercise produces free radicals that disturb the balance and can damage tissue. In 2010, researchers reported on the ability of SOD to reduce pro-inflammatory and oxidative stress bio-markers in training horses.
PROBIOTIC SUPPORT Certain enzymes may be an excellent addition to probiotic, prebiotic and synbiotic products. Transglucosidase has the ability to create prebiotic oligosaccharides from ingested starch to support a healthy balance of intestinal microflora. Lactoferrin is another enzyme that supports probiotic microorganisms. In 2010 researchers examined the impact of lactoferrin supplementation on various microorganisms. This in vitro study found that the enzyme significantly inhibited the growth of potentially harmful species but not common probiotic species. Addition of lactoferrin to supplements can help shift the intestinal environment to favor probiotic microorganisms. SPORTS PRODUCTS Body building requires consumption of protein beyond the typical daily requirement to increase muscle mass. Soy and whey are common protein supplements but they can be difficult to digest and pre-hydrolyzed proteins
In 2003, researchers investigated the effect of TEC’s systemic protease supplement, TPP Protease, on muscle function. The researchers concluded “the results of the present study indicate that 21 days of dietary supplementation with orally ingested proteases significantly improves muscle function”. The study showed an increase in force production of quadriceps flexion and extension in the protease group compared to placebo group from baseline measures. It is hypothesized that reduced muscle inflammation is a major contributing factor. JOINT & SOFT TISSUE HEALTH Proteases have been shown in laboratory studies to possess potent antiinflammatory action that may be beneficial to support joint and soft tissue health. Likewise, the antioxidant enzyme lactoferrin has been reported to possess antiinflammatory properties that may benefit joint health and soft tissue recovery. Virtually all proteases possess this ability though the
animal proteases trypsin and chymotrypsin as well as the plant protease bromelain have been the most studied in clinical trials. Bromelain has a long history of traditional use as an antiinflammatory and to support wound healing. Modern research supports the enzyme’s ability to support joint health. Researchers have reported that bromelain is effective in reducing physical symptoms associated with mild knee pain. Others have reported on the use of a combination of trypsin, chymotrypsin and bromelain concluding supplementation inferior to NSAID treatment using a WOMAC scale for pain, stiffness and physical function associated with osteoarthritis. Lingo discussed a clinical trial showing the acceleration of soft-tissue wound healing conducted with Enzyme Inc.’s InflammEnz™. “This formula primarily contains a blend of proteolytic enzymes with supporting vitamins and herbs. Researchers found that 77% of participants experienced a 17% acceleration in wound healing time. Subjects taking InflammEnz™ also reported less redness in their wounds which may have been associated with less inflammation.” IMMUNE SUPPORT Antioxidant enzymes are especially suited to provide support for the immune system. Lactoferrin is an amazingly diverse protein that possesses antioxidant, proteolytic, immunostimulatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic and antiviral activities. Extensive research has been conducted investigating the role of lactoferrin in maintaining immune health especially as a mediator of immune responses to infection, trauma and injury. Numerous studies on lactoferrin document its capacity to modulate the immune system and impact health and healing. The enzyme is also reported to increase T-cell activation and antioxidant status in healthy male adults. Systemic proteases have a long history of use in Europe to support the immune system and may be combined with antioxidant enzymes for optimal action. Studies indicate that systemic proteases may bind to various serum proteins including α-2-macroglobulin, TNF-α and TGF-β and modulate the immune system.
TEC’s Helffrich emphasized the role of digestive enzyme supplements for helping provide a strong nutritional foundation, stating “It is a known fact that a nutrient dense diet is essential to a strong immune system. What we eat is the first priority and how well we digest is the second priority. Supplemental digestive enzymes promote optimal digestion and therefore promote a strong immune system.” CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH Enzyme supplements may also support a healthy cardiovascular system. Lipases help provide essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In vitro studies show blends of lipases effectively increase the availability of essential fatty acids from various vegetable oils as well as fish oils. These fatty acids have been linked to decreased inflammation and improved cardiovascular health. The role of inflammation in cardiovascular disease also supports the use of systemic proteases and antioxidant enzymes. Systemic proteases are also known to break down fibrin which may help to promote healthy circulation. Helffrich emphasized that systemic proteases play an important role in maintaining “healthy blood and blood vessels which supports a healthy heart.” FUTURE INNOVATIONS Enzyme supplements have the ability to impact the nutritional value of our diets, decrease the occurrence of food intolerances, and to act systemically to support various body systems. Current medical research has identified a consistent link between inflammation and disease which may be impacted by certain enzymes. The ability of enzymes to act systemically to promote health will continue to prompt new product development and innovation. Research continues to identify both new applications and novel enzymes with nutritional benefits. In addition, innovations in delivery forms can also help expand the future enzyme market. By Danielle Harrison Danielle Harrison serves as Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Manager at National Enzyme Company. Her focus is educating NEC staff, customers and the world about the role of enzymes in health and nutrition. She has also taken an active role in working with various governmental agencies to establish the role of enzymes as supplements.
*The information contained in this paper is intended for educational purposes only. It is neither to be used to market or advertise a product nor to make labeling claims. The FDA and FTC have strict regulations concerning how information can be used in promoting a dietary supplement, and it is recommended that adherence to these regulations be followed.