Tips for Matching Enzymes to Foods

Some enzyme-food pairings are obvious: lactase with lactose (dairy) and cellulase for cellulose (fibrous foods). But most enzyme names are somewhat ambiguous as to which foods they affect.

I have listed some enzyme-food pairings along with an explanation for the not-so-obvious groupings. 

Steaks - Most would assume that high protease (enzymes for proteins) formulas 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 digesting 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.

I 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. I 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 types - These would be potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, turnips, etc. Starches can be a problem if not thoroughly broken down. Carbs 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 monosaccharide sugars like glucose. Products with amylase and glucoamylase are Zyme Prime, ZyCarb 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. Try No-Fenol or ZyCarb.

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

Fruits - Can be similar to veggies in that some are starchy but in addition can also be highly polyphenolic. By polyphenolic or "phenolic" we mean they are high in polyphenols which are the antioxidants and nutritional compounds we need to help with oxidative stress.

In some, polyphenolics are not transformed to their most absorbable form and if not absorbed, there is little benefit. Xylanase, found in No-Fenol, seems to help accomplish this transformation process. Combine with amylase and glucoamylase (such as with ZyCarb) to get help with the starchy components. 

Dairy - We already mentioned using lactase for lactose intolerance but keep in mind that dairy protein (casein) can be a digestive problem as well. For this we would want to use a high-protease formula like AFP-Peptizyde.

Wheat - Gluten is the main protein found in wheat and is difficult to digest with the normal set of enzymes in our bodies. Add additional proteases and peptidases that specifically break down the proline-containing peptides in wheat significantly aid in the digestion of wheat. AFP-Peptizyde is formulated for digesting gluten and other proteins. The AFP-Peptizyde enzymes are also present in TriEnza.

- Devin Houston, Ph.D.