Gas and bloating? Enzymes are the key

High-fat, high-calorie meals often leave us bloated, gassy and in digestive distress! A recent clinical trial in Minnesota confirmed that supplementing with digestive enzymes can reduce these digestive disturbances.

Digestive enzymes are complex molecules crucial for proper food absorption and a multitude of other bodily functions. These enzymes are found in the foods we eat and are also manufactured by the body. However, when the food we eat is processed, refined or microwaved, many of these enzymes are destroyed. Specific enzymes help digest specific foods: protease to digest protein; amylase to digest carbohydrates; lipase to digest fats; cellulose to digest fibre; and lactase to digest milk sugar.

The double-blind trial, conducted at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, hoped to determine whether or not pancreatic enzymes would reduce digestive upset in healthy subjects who had ingested a high-fat, high-calorie meal. At 7 am, 18 subjects ingested 185 grams of cookies (1,196 calories and 72 grams of fat) plus three capsules of pancreatic enzymes or a placebo. For the next 15 to 17 hours, researchers observed the subjects for digestive upset.

They found that those taking the enzymes reported significantly less bloating throughout the day, and less bloating, gas and fullness during the dinner hours compared to the placebo group. Researchers concluded that if the pancreatic enzymes could reduce symptoms in healthy subjects, they might also be beneficial for people with irritable bowel syndrome.

Source: Dig Dis Sci 1999 Jul;44(7):1317-21