The best digestive enzymes for bloating are ones that cover a broad spectrum of foods.
After all, foods have many different compounds that need to be broken down for absorption, so it makes sense to have a wide variety of digestive enzymes to reduce bloating symptoms.
Beyond that, the quality of brands varies too, so it is important to choose wisely for the best digestive health.
In this post, I will break down the best digestive enzyme supplement brands for you.
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Table of Contents
Who needs digestive enzymes?
Let’s face it: most people don’t eat enough fresh foods, and because of this, many people lack the enzymes from foods due to heating and processing.
Another reason many people need enzymes is that their guts are inflamed.
Your small intestine lining makes a big chunk of the total enzymes in your body. These are called brush border enzymes.
When the gut lining is leaky and not functioning well, you likely aren’t making enough digestive enzymes either.
The pancreas’s job is to produce digestive enzymes, so it provides a major mealtime bolus of enzymes into your intestines when you eat. So if you have any pancreatic issues, you may also benefit from taking digestive enzymes.
Digestive issues in general can be a sign that you are low in enzymes [R].
If you have any symptoms of low enzymes, you may also need a digestive enzyme. Let’s break that down.
Symptoms of low enzymes
When you lack adequate enzymes, you can feel gas, bloating, heartburn, acid reflux, and general abdominal pain.
Lack of enzymes can also show up in other parts of the body due to poor digestion of nutrients.
Many people report improved energy, and skin health, and even report a benefit to their weight when they get on a good digestive enzyme supplement regimen.
Other causes of low enzymes
The list of reasons you can be low in enzymes is long [R]:
- Inflammation of the pancreas due to diabetes or a highly refined carbohydrate diet
- Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
- High-calorie diets
- Excessive exercise
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Frequent gut infections
- Repeated antibiotic prescriptions
- Digestive tract surgeries
As you can see, most Americans are at risk for low enzymes for one reason or another. Whether or not most people benefit from them has not been fully vetted by research.
But, we do know that thousands of positive reviews are a good sign that these supplements can help many people feel better with many digestive conditions and other health issues.
What makes a good digestive enzyme?
The two most important factors that make up a good digestive enzyme are broad-spectrum enzymes and higher doses of enzymes.
This is because if you are eating a complex meal, you will want many different types of enzymes to help you break down the food.
If the meal is large, you will need enough enzymes to cover your bases. Each enzyme unit covers a specific amount of food, so the higher the units, ALUs for example, the more lactose will be digested.
Another important factor that makes a quality enzyme is GMP certification by the company that makes them. This ensures that the company has third-party inspections for quality and purity.
To make the list of best digestive enzymes for bloating in this post, the enzymes also ideally are allergen-free. Unfortunately, many enzymes are made from allergenic substances like gluten or soy.
Types of enzymes
There are a lot of enzymes out there, so I want to break down the function of each enzyme for you. That way, you can know exactly the purpose of each of your supplements.
Here are the bare minimum enzymes that a good broad-spectrum enzyme supplement should contain:
- Amylase-helps digest starch
- Protease-breaks down proteins in the diet
- Lipase-breaks down fats in the diet
- Lactase-helps digest lactose from milk and dairy products
Helpful enzymes for bloating
If you really want to stop the bloat, you will need to go above and beyond the four major enzymes and look for some targeted enzymes that help to break down fibers and fermentable carbohydrates, as examples.
Here are some enzymes for bloating to look for:
- Alpha-amylase-breaks down alpha links in starches
- Glucoamylase-present in saliva helps to break starch into sugar
- Sucrase (invertase)-breaks glucose into sucrose and fructose
- Maltase-breaks maltose down into sugar
- Pullulanase-breaks down alpha glucan fibers
- Lysozyme-breaks down the cell walls of harmful bacteria. Naturally found in saliva
- Cellulase-breaks down many kinds of fibers, including beta-glucan
- Hemicellulase-helps break down starches and candida
- Pectinase-breaks down pectin in fruits and vegetables
- Phytase-breaks down phytates (anti-nutrients) in foods
- Beta-glucanase-breaks down beta-glucan fibers
- Alpha-galactosidase-helps break down glycoproteins from beans and legumes (used in Beano)
- Galactomannase-helps break down galactomannan starches
- Acid protease-released by the stomach helps the body digest proteins
- Alkaline protease-helps digest a wide variety of proteins and used to reduce allergy symptoms
- Endopeptidases-helps break down proteins into amino acids
- Serratia peptidase-helps break down proteins into amino acids. Also used for chronic pain, inflammation, and conditions like bronchitis.
Many enzyme brands contain proteases that help break down gluten. You will see on the label that this is listed as a DPP-IV activity.
These enzymes help with gluten digestion but be aware that there is really no evidence that these enzymes help if you have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
In fact, I caution against using them for gluten digestion unless you start slowly and test them carefully.
By the way, these enzymes don’t work for my gluten intolerance.
Overall best digestive enzymes for bloating
Seeking Health Pro Digestion Intensive Enzyme Supplement ranks as the best digestive enzyme for bloating because it contains 19 types of enzymes that help support healthy digestion and absorption. For this reason, it is considered a full-spectrum digestive enzyme.
It also is dosed with high enough amounts of enzymes to cover heavy meals. For this reason, it is ranked number one.
It is also free of all major allergens including milk, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, and gluten. An all-natural supplement, it is free of artificial colors, artificial flavors, and artificial preservatives.
Best enzymes for difficulties absorbing fat
Amy Myers Complete Enzymes Is a broad-spectrum enzyme supplement that contains more lipase than all other enzymes I can find. This means that it is the best enzyme supplement for people who struggle with digesting fats in their diet.
This enzyme brand is also the only one I can find that also contains lysozyme.
Downside: contains eggs, but doesn’t contain gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, or GMOs.
Use code HEIDI10 to get $10 off your first purchase.
Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes are similar to Amy Myers enzymes because they contain more lipase for fat digestion than most brands.
A good example of a time when this enzyme may be the best option is if you get “dumping syndrome” after eating a fatty meal at a restaurant.
However, they also do contain eggs, so it is important to avoid this brand if you have an egg allergy.
Best chewable enzymes for bloating
I recommend choosing enzyme capsules whenever possible. This is because they contain a much higher concentration of enzymes compared to chewable enzymes.
However, for people who dislike taking pills, chewable enzymes are a viable option. Just note that all chewable enzymes are of lower strength than their capsule counterparts.
Seeking Health Pro Digestion Intensive Chewables contain all of the same enzymes as the Seeking Health digestive enzymes capsules, but in lower doses to make them taste good. Personally, I find that they are strong enough to cover my meals well.
Best digestive enzymes for men
Garden of Life Digestive Enzymes for Men: contains 22 enzymes, some of which aren’t for food breakdown, like nattokinase.
This enzyme product is very similar to the Seeking Health brand with one exception: this has a lower amount of lipase than the other products listed here. Perks: Raw, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and contains no binders or fillers.
Also contains nattokinase and red algae, which are healthy for blood vessels, and superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant.
By the way, this enzyme supplement is not strictly for men; many women give this product a very high rating.
Lists probiotics, which is fine. But it only has about 5 million CFUs of probiotics.
Downside: contains soy and lower levels of lipase than other brands listed here.
Now Super Enzymes supplement contains most of the major digestive enzymes and is very highly rated.
I like this brand because it also contains ox bile, which can be helpful for people who struggle with chronic diarrhea. People who have had gallbladder issues, for example, may get a lot of benefit from this product.
However, the downside to this brand is that it may not be suitable for everyone, because the bile is usually only helpful in people with gallbladder disorders or diarrhea conditions.
Benefits of digestive enzymes
Simply put, the biggest benefit of digestive enzymes is that they help you digest your food properly. For this reason, they have the potential to have endless health benefits.
First, digestive enzymes are critical for nutrient absorption. Without enough enzymes, your body will lack countless nutrients, which are the building blocks of your body.
If you are a person who has any of the risk factors for low enzymes, the potential that digestive enzymes will help you is even higher than if you don’t.
While research studies are still emerging that look at specific health benefits, a lack of research does not necessarily mean a lack of benefit.
Here are some of the research-backed benefits of digestive enzymes.
Helps digest heavy meals
We all like to splurge by eating a big meal at times. Because enzymes help digest food, it makes sense that they may help with the symptoms of overeating too. Specific enzymes that help digest fats known as pancrelipase may be the most helpful in this situation.
Some research shows that taking digestive enzymes with pancrelipase helps reduce gas, bloating, and feelings of fullness after a large meal [R].
Another study also found that taking the enzyme lipase reduced feelings of fullness after a high-fat meal compared to a placebo [R].
Reduces irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is quite common and results in significant digestive distress, such as gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
A recent research study showed that in people who have inflammatory bowel disease, enzyme supplements plus beta-glucan and inositol helped reduce their IBS symptoms, including bloating, flatulence, and abdominal pain [R].
Enzymes in this study were given over a 4-week period and compared to placebo.
An earlier study in IBS patients showed similar results by improving most IBS symptoms when using the same combination therapy [R].
Yet another study found that pancreatic enzymes reduced symptoms of IBS-diarrhea compared to a placebo [R].
Improves food tolerance
Even the biggest critics of dietary supplements acknowledge that lactase enzyme supplements help to improve digestive functions for people who have lactose intolerance [R].
However, keep in mind, that the more lactose you eat, the more lactase enzymes you will need!
Helps with bloating and dyspepsia
Between 50 to 80 percent of the population suffer from symptoms like fullness, heartburn, nausea, anorexia, regurgitation, bloating, and burping. The collective term for these symptoms is called functional dyspepsia [R].
Early research shows that enzymes like bromelain may also help with other digestive conditions like mild ulcerative colitis [R].
Digestive enzymes have immune-modulating properties, which is why they may help with conditions like colitis or other autoimmune conditions[R].
They tend to dampen down inflammatory components of the immune system by helping to break down allergenic compounds before the body absorbs them.
Digestive enzymes may decrease the sensitivity response to allergic compounds according to research [R]. This reaction is driven by the immune system.
It is too early to rely on enzymes as a treatment for allergies, but they definitely won’t hurt if you do have allergic symptoms.
Health practitioners have long appreciated the benefits of enzymes for inflammatory conditions.
By dampening down inflammation, enzymes like bromelain may have benefits to many tissues in the body. One study found that bromelain dampened inflammatory cytokines in the body after one single dose [R].
A clinical study also found that supplemental enzymes, including proteases and bromelain, reduced tissue damage after exercise, improved muscle function, and dampen inflammation. The enzymes were given for 21 days [R].
Effects on weight loss
No studies in humans show that taking enzymes helps with weight loss. However, some people may feel more energy because they are better at absorbing their nutrients when taking enzymes.
One animal study did find that pectinase and cellulase supplements reduced body weight and a high-fat diet-induced weight gain in a rat study [R].
The truth is, that more research is needed in this area.
It is important to also try to get natural enzymes from your diet. Foods that are known to be rich in enzymes include:
- Raw sauerkraut
- Fermented carrots
- Fermented asparagus
As a rule, you should try to get one or more of these foods every day to help your digestion. If you still notice you are bloated and have IBS, an enzyme supplement may be helpful.
When to take enzymes
Digestive enzymes break down foods you eat. To get the best results, you need to take a digestive enzyme supplement when you are eating or right before your first bite of food.
This way, the enzymes can help break down the food you eat into absorbable compounds.
As a rule, follow the package directions in terms of dosing too.
However, if you aren’t feeling complete relief, it is safe to increase the dose as enzymes are generally very safe to take.
My digestive enzyme review
Digestive enzymes can be very beneficial for digestion and bloating.
Right now, I’m taking Seeking Health Pro Digestion Intensive Chewables and I can honestly say that flatulence and bloating are gone as long as I eat these with meals.
I’ve tried Now Super Enzymes as well, but find that overall these Seeking Health enzymes are working better. My guess is because they have a broader spectrum of enzymes to cover the variety of foods I like to eat.
Digestive enzyme supplementation is very safe for most people. However, there are some factors to keep in mind.
As with any food-based supplement, if you are allergic to any of the components in the supplement, you should avoid them.
For example, Lactaid is made from Aspergillus, which is a fungus. If you are allergic to mushrooms, it may make sense to avoid enzyme supplements derived from fungi.
Bromelain may interact with medications like antibiotics and blood thinners, so make sure to check with your doctor before adding digestive enzymes.
Digestive enzymes can help with many aspects of digestion, may help reduce inflammation in the body, and overall improve well-being. The best digestive enzymes for bloating are those that are broad-spectrum, such as Seeking Health’s Pro Digestion Intensive.
The best time to take enzyme supplements is with meals and snacks.
While enzymes are generally safe, it is always important to talk with your doctor before starting any new supplements.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of the new book Gut Fix and The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. While The Healthy RD’s posts are backed by research, you are unique, so you must seek care from your own dietitian or healthcare provider. This post is not meant to diagnose or treat any conditions. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.