Herbal antibiotics vs. Rx, prokinetics, probiotics, and lists upon lists of low-FODMAP foods… there’s a lot to keep track of when you’re dealing with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth.
And that might be why one of the most important tools we have for SIBO doesn’t get enough credit: digestive enzymes.
This simple supplement might be the most important supplement you use for feeling good day to day and supporting overall health.
Let’s break down how, why, and when to use digestive enzymes, plus what to look for when choosing a formula.
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
Digestive enzymes help us break down the food we eat into molecules that can be absorbed and used by our body.
I like to think of it like this: imagine your digestive system is a dishwasher and the food you eat are the dirty dishes you load into the dishwasher. Digestive enzymes are like the soap you add to the dishwasher.
Without the soap, the water alone will be able to get the dishes somewhat clean… but when you add the soap in, the dishes come out sparkling clean.
We get digestive enzymes in two ways: our body produces some digestive enzymes on its own in the saliva, pancreas, liver and gallbladder, as well as on the lining of the intestines, and there are also naturally-occurring digestive enzymes in many foods.
The three primary digestive enzyme types are:
Protease – breaks down protein
Lipase – breaks down fat
Amylase – breaks down starches
But there are many more types of enzymes, including brush border enzymes, which are in the lining of the small intestine and include lactase, which breaks down the milk sugar lactose, and sucrase for breaking down sucrose.
When Digestive Enzymes Go Wrong
Ideally, you should get plenty of digestive enzymes from the food you eat and your body’s own production…
But for many reasons, people are often left with inadequate digestive enzymes. These are some common reasons for inadequate digestive enzymes:
- Genetic predisposition (common with lactose intolerance)
- Crohn’s disease
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Leaky gut
- And of course… SIBO!
When you’re lacking enzymes, you might notice:
- Dyspepsia (aka feeling bad when you eat)
- Dull hair, skin, and nails
- Undigested food in stool
- Food intolerances
How Digestive Enzymes Can Help People With SIBO
Digestive enzymes can benefit many – maybe even most – people, but for those with SIBO they are especially important.
They reduce symptoms. Digestive enzymes can reduce bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea – some of the most uncomfortable SIBO symptoms there are.
They can help expand your diet. Many people find digestive enzymes expand their list of “safe foods” and that they can even incorporate more FODMAPs thanks to added digestive enzymes. Check out Dr. Mark Pimentel on Fiber, The Low-FODMAP Diet , and What To Eat During SIBO Treatment.
They improve nutrient absorption. Whether you’re struggling with weight gain OR loss as a result of SIBO, digestive enzymes can boost nutrient absorption, helping to naturally balance your weight.
When and How To Use Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes can be used in two ways, according to Dr. Allison Siebecker, ND:
With food: Take the enzymes at the start of a meal, so they can begin to digest the food right as you begin eating it. If needed, more enzymes can be taken mid-meal or at the end.
Without food: When taken without food, digestive enzymes have an anti-inflammatory effect. They can even have an anti-biofilm effect when taken away from food.
Both uses can be very beneficial for people with SIBO and you may want to experiment with both.
Choosing The Right Digestive Enzyme
Understanding why and how to use digestive enzymes is the easy part… the tricky part is choosing the right product.
Here’s what I look for:
- Contains brush border enzymes, in addition to lipase, amylase, and protease.
- High enough dose, because many supplements have far too low a dose to be effective!
- Vegan and allergen free, because many supplements are made from animal products.
- Contains activated enzymes – this is MOST important. Enzymes require activation by a cofactor. If you don’t have what the enzyme requires to be activated, it doesn’t do any good. That’s why choosing an activated enzyme is key to getting good results.
My Digestive Enzyme Pick
I’ve tried just about every digestive enzyme on the market, and Healthy Gut HoloZyme is my favorite by far.
It’s vegan, free of fillers, and has only activated enzymes. This formula is so different from other digestive enzymes, it has a patent. Plus, its effectiveness is backed by 6 pilot clinical studies.
There’s too much to list here, but if you want to see exactly how HoloZyme stacks up compared to other big digestive enzyme brands, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for a comparison chart.
Plus, Ive negotiated a special discount just for our community: $15 off AND free shipping.
Using digestive enzymes has made a huge difference for me… and if you’re suffering with SIBO or IBS, I hope it can help you, too.
Hope & hugs,
PS – Got questions about HoloZyme? Leave a comment with your question and I’ll do my best to answer it.