How to Boost Your Proteins with Enzymes

Paleo Proteins

Protein breakdown

Dietary protein is essential for health.  Proteins are composed of amino acids which provide the building blocks for bone, muscles, soft tissues.

But amino acids in dietary proteins only become available once the protein is broken apart. This process is known as proteolysis and is accomplished by protease enzymes — specialized proteins that break down proteins into smaller fragments and individual amino acids.

High-protein diets, such as the Paleo Diet, are helpful only if the dietary protein can be adequately broken down.

Once amino acids are released from the parent protein they are absorbed and transported into the cells of tissues. Cells then re-assemble the amino acids into those specific proteins needed for human metabolism.

Digestive system diagram


The intestinal tract

The bulk of protein digestion occurs in the intestinal tract. The pancreas secretes proteases into the small intestine to start the breakdown of food proteins into smaller peptides. Specialized proteases from the intestinal wall, known as peptidases, are called into action further down the intestinal tract and convert peptides into the basic unit of proteins, amino acids. 

The intestinal tract is part of the immune system. Some proteins may provoke an immune response based on their source or structure. This may promote inflammation in the gut as well as affecting the gut microbial population, or microbiome. 

Enzyme supplements

Supplemental enzymes may provide additional help in breaking down dietary proteins and preventing certain intolerances caused by some food proteins. Protease enzymes from fungal and plant sources can function in acidic conditions, unlike pancreatic enzymes. This advantage allows food proteins to be broken down while still in the stomach. Once the stomach empties into the small intestine, the bulk of the breakdown has already occurred. 

The enzymes taken with the meal will continue to break down the food proteins, working with pancreatic and intestinal proteases to ensure complete protein breakdown. 

The structural breakdown of food proteins prior to entering the intestine also minimizes chances of activating an immune response. Many food intolerances are alleviated by changing the structure of the food molecule to a smaller and simpler size, escaping recognition by the immune system as a problem. 

Enzyme products for protein

Houston Enzymes offers several products that contain enzymes for food proteins:

  • AFP Peptizyde contains high amounts of enzymes that target proteins, including gluten, dairy casein, and soy.
  • TriEnza is a broad-spectrum product that contains high amounts of enzymes for proteins, gluten, and dairy casein. TriEnza also includes enzymes for carbohydrates, polyphenols, and fats.
  • Zyme Prime targets carbohydrates, but also offers mild help for proteins. Tends to firm stools.
  • ZyCarb is similar to Zyme Prime as it targets carbohydrates and offers mild help for proteins, but isn’t as likely to firm stools.

Enzymes provide a safe and easy way to add digestive support to your protein intake. Whether you will benefit from a strong targeted product or a milder product will depend on your dietary concerns. 

Have questions about getting started with enzymes for protein digestion? If so, send us an email or call us at 866-757-8627 and we’d be happy to chat.


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Posted in Diets, Digestion;