Not just chicken feed

Every so often I go to which directs to, the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. I used the keyword phrase “dietary protease” and came up with quite a few hits.  An interesting couple of articles caught my eye, both involved use of enzymes in the poultry industry. Now, chicken studies may seem a little funny but they are big business, especially here in Northwest Arkansas. Extrapolating results from these studies to humans may not be entirely appropriate but I do think there are some interesting points to consider. The first study was titled, “Evaluation of high dietary inclusion of distillers dried grains with solubles and supplementation of protease and xylanase in the diets of broiler chicken under necrotic enteritis challenge”. The study showed that 1) giving distiller grains to the chickens increased their susceptibility to necrotic enteritis caused by Clostridia, and 2) giving protease and xylanase to chickens with guts damaged by Clostridium bacteria allowed those chickens to maintain feed intake and gain body weight. The second study, “Effects of diet type and enzyme addition on growth performance and gut health of broiler chickens during subclinical Clostridium perfringens challenge”; indicated that multi-carbohydrase enzyme addition improved growth performance and diminished the negative effects of Clostridia challenge. So what can we take from such a study? One must be careful in taking data from an animal study and implying that the results would be the same in humans. But it is clear that adding enzymes to the diets of these birds helped their guts maintain adequate absorption of nutrients from feed grains. Further searching showed the same results in a study with pigs (whose digestive tract is actually very similar to humans). My observations of humans using enzymes over the past 15 years tend to agree with the results of the animal studies.  Could these studies be a prelude to studies in humans with IBS or Chron’s disease?  We can only hope.