The quick answer is “maybe.” Many of my patients reduce or avoid uncomfortable GI symptoms, like gas and bloating, by taking a digestive enzyme supplement with a trigger food. But digestive enzymes only help when you take the right one.

Tamara Duker Freeman MS RD CDN does an excellent job answering this question over at US News & World Report:

“An important thing to know about enzymes is that each one is specific to a particular type of biochemical reaction. In other words, a protein-digesting enzyme – called a protease – cannot break down things that aren’t proteins, like carbohydrates, fats, sugars or fiber. And even within the family of protein-digesting enzymes our bodies produce, different ones are required to attack the chemical bonds at different locations and configurations within a protein’s chain.”

And

“Some ingredients, like betaine HCl, bromelain (derived from pineapples) and papain (derived from papayas), are commonly included in products marketed as dietary supplements. None of them have ever been studied in human beings to determine what effect, if any, they may have on digestion. Any marketing claims that they aid in either nutrient breakdown or digestive system motility are therefore based on speculation, not actual evidence.”


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