Tips for Matching Enzymes to Foods

Choosing the right enzyme for a particular food isn’t always obvious. Getting it wrong could cause a delay in addressing a food intolerance.

Some enzyme-food pairings are easier to figure out: lactase for dairy lactose and cellulase for cellulose in fibrous foods. But most enzyme names are somewhat vague as to which foods they affect.

Here’s the food + enzyme list for better results.

Wheat - Gluten is the main protein found in wheat and is difficult to digest with the normal set of enzymes in our bodies. Adding protease and peptidase enzymes that break down particular proteins can aid in digesting wheat. 

AFP Peptizyde is formulated with these types of enzymes for digesting gluten and other proteins. TriEnza also offers enzymes for wheat as well as other types of foods.

Steaks – You may think that high amounts of enzymes for proteins, known as proteases, would be best for a nice juicy beef steak. After all, proteases break down proteins and muscle is protein, right? 

That is true, but what gives many people problems after a steak dinner is not the protein, but the fat that permeates the meat. 

Fats can delay the emptying of the stomach, which in turn can cause problems such as heartburn and reflux.

We don't usually recommend taking a large amount of protease with steak dinners, especially for the last meal of the day. 

When proteases break down proteins, the result is a thinned liquid mixture in the stomach. Combine that with lying in bed and fat-delayed stomach emptying and you have a recipe for a night of tossing and turning. 

We recommend using a lipase enzyme product such as Lypazyme to break down the fats, which supports normal stomach emptying.  

Vegetables - Not all veggies are created equal or require the same set of enzymes:

Starchy vegetables - These would be potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, turnips, etc. Starches can be a problem if not thoroughly broken down. Carbohydrates and starches are excellent food sources for the bacteria and yeast in our gut and will increase their population. 

The best enzyme pairing is a combination of amylase and glucoamylase, which act together to convert the starch to simple sugars like glucose. Products with amylase and glucoamylase are Zyme PrimeZyCarb or our TriEnza.

Leafy vegetables - Lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and such can create havoc in those with sensitive guts. The "roughage" tends to go right through them causing frequent bowel movements and loose stools. These types of foods are worked on by cellulase and xylanase enzymes, found in No-Fenol. 

The specialized structures found in leafy plants are broken down by these enzymes- resulting in better digestion, less cramping and less gas. As a side benefit, a good portion of the insoluble fiber is converted to soluble fiber, which aids in regular bowel movements. Try No-Fenol or ZyCarb.

Broccoli, cabbage, and beans - These also contain raffinose and stachyose which are carbohydrates that may cause gassiness. These carbs are broken down by the alpha-galactosidase enzyme found in Zyme Prime and ZyCarb.

Fruits – Fruits can be similar to vegetables in that some are starchy but can also be highly polyphenolic. By polyphenolic or "phenolic" we mean they are high in polyphenols. Polyphenols are nutritional compounds we need to help with oxidative stress.

In the digestive tracts of some people, polyphenolics are not transformed to their most absorbable form and if not absorbed, there is little benefit. 

Xylanase, an enzyme found in No-Fenol, seems to help accomplish this transformation process. Combine xylanase with amylase and glucoamylase, such as in ZyCarb, to get additional help with the starchy components. 

Dairy - We already mentioned using lactase for lactose. If you suffer from the gas, discomfort or stool problems associated with lactose intolerance, use any of our products that include lactase: Zyme PrimeZyCarb or TriEnza.

Keep in mind that dairy protein (casein or whey) can be a digestive problem as well. For dairy protein breakdown, use a protease formula like AFP Peptizyde.

If you want to address both lactose intolerance and dairy protein, use TriEnza.

Sugary foods- Enzymes such as invertase and diastase help break down certain sugars to glucose. TriEnza is a good source for these enzymes.

Matching the best enzyme for what you eat can make all the difference in your digestive wellness. Choose an enzyme company that provides detailed information about their products so you get the best results.

-Devin Houston, Ph.D.