How Enzymes Knock Down Food Intolerances

Dominos iStock 614017226

Does eating a good meal sometimes result in not-so-good digestion for you?

Then we probably don’t have to tell you that food intolerances can take the pleasure out of food intake. 

Let’s take a look at the causes of these digestive issues - and how enzymes can help.

Digesting food can be hazardous if food proteins are viewed as enemies by your body’s immune system. In response to these food “attacks”, your immune system produces counter-attackers known as IgG, IgE and IgA antibodies.

The number of food-intolerant patients is increasing, as is the severity of the reactions. The effects range from mild rashes, diarrhea, headaches, and intestinal issues.

Digestion’s Role

One of the functions of the digestive tract is to change food into a substance that won’t trigger the immune system to launch an attack.

Several methods are used in the body to accomplish this task. Stomach acid breaks down food proteins. This process removes the “glue” that holds the food protein together. It often results in loss of any function associated with the protein.

However, even these altered proteins can be a source of food intolerances.   

The next and most definitive step for rendering food proteins harmless is further breakdown by enzymes. This process begins in the stomach but kicks into high gear in the small intestine.

Immune System Attacks

The immune system in the gut is triggered by many factors but size of the offending protein is the most predominant. The larger the protein, the more likely it is to set off the alarm for IgG antibody production. 

Conversely, smaller proteins or fragments are able to slip under the immune system’s radar. Research from several labs demonstrate that when protein digestion is compromised, antibody production to that food protein increases.

A weakened digestive system can occur easier than you may think. 

The simple act of taking an antacid reduces the activity of pepsin, the major enzyme in the stomach, by raising the pH of the stomach. 

Many H2-receptor blocking medications can cause an increase in food intolerance symptoms. This is because these medications lower stomach acid, which in turn, fails to activate the stomach’s enzyme system.

If your stomach’s enzyme system isn’t working properly, larger food protein fragments are then passed on to the intestinal tract.

These larger food particles have the potential to become agents for food intolerance. 

The Enzyme Answer 

Research indicates that adding enzymes to break down food proteins results in a less potential for intolerances to occur. Heating of a protein alone will not break down the protein sufficiently, so cooking is no guarantee of preventing a food intolerance.

The World Health Organization proposed in 2001 that food proteins be tested for the allergenic potential. 

One of the parameters for consideration is the resistance to enzymatic digestion by some food proteins. 

A positive association was found between resistance to digestion and development of food allergy. Food proteins with a high content of proline amino acids, like gluten, are difficult to digest by human digestive enzymes. 

What does this mean for you? 

Increasing the digestion of food proteins decreases the chances of potential intolerance to those foods. Unfortunately, our own digestive enzymes are not always sufficient.

By adding enzyme supplements that are acid-stable, we can increase the chance of food proteins being sufficiently broken down.

These “outside” sourced enzymes are compatible with our digestive systems, but provide us support for more thorough digestion. 

The use of enzyme supplements offers these benefits:

  • increase the bioavailability of food nutrients to our system 
  • provide a healthier environment for the probiotic bacteria in our gut
  • eliminate the unwelcome side effects of unhealthy digestion, such as fermentation, gas, and bloating

Tolerance of food proteins is an important aspect of our digestive and immune system. 


The use of over-the-counter enzyme supplements specifically formulated for protein digestion, such as AFP-Peptizyde, may enhance your digestion of food proteins. 

Broader spectrum enzyme products, such as TriEnza, benefit not only protein digestion, but breakdown of carbohydrates, starches, and fats is also increased.

Enzymes can be an easy way to make eating pleasurable again.




Note: These statements and/or products have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not meant to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any illness. Please consult your medical doctor for treatment options.


© Houston Enzymes 2019.

Posted in Food Intolerances, Digestion;