Dr. Devin Houston, of Houston Enzymes (which makes my favorite brand of digestive enzymes), has been a friend of my center for many years, and was a great source when I wrote The Un-Prescription for Autism. (It’s a small world – his mom is from Beckley!)
He has given me permission to share any of his material, so here is one of my favorite posts of his. Thank you, Dr. Houston! (And here is a link to his fascinating website: https://www.houston-enzymes.com)
Here are 8 facts about digestive enzymes your doctor may not be aware of (from Dr. Devin Houston):
1. Enzymes do not shut down your pancreas.
The pancreas produces enzymes on a continual basis, stores them, and then releases enzymes when food enters the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). Pancreatic enzyme production is not controlled through feedback mechanisms, so oral enzymes are not “sensed” by the pancreas.
Research has shown some adaptability of the pancreas in animals. Giving animal-derived enzymes resulted in a slight decrease in pancreatic enzyme output that quickly returned to normal once enzymes were stopped.
2. Enzymes will not digest the lining of your mouth, stomach, or intestine.
These enzymes much prefer the denatured (cooked, or exposed to stomach acid) proteins found in foods. It is difficult for enzymes to work on the live protein chains lining your mouth, stomach and intestine. Those live protein chains are tightly coiled, which prevents enzymes from contact.
Enzymes need to lock onto specific links on an uncoiled protein chain in order to break it down. Protein chains uncoil when they are heated by cooking, or in the acid of the stomach. Enzymes can bind to certain areas of the uncoiled protein and then chop it up.
Also, the cells of our bodies and the mucus lining the gastrointestinal tract contain inhibitors that disable proteases (enzymes that break down proteins). The mucus also acts as a physical barrier, protecting living cells from those protease enzymes.
Your pancreas sends enzymes into your small intestine every time you eat, and those enzymes haven’t been breaking down your intestine.
You might have irritation of the mouth if enzyme powder remains on your cheeks or gums for a prolonged time. This is similar to what happens when you eat raw pineapple (a source of the protease bromelain) and get sores in the mouth.
Why does this happen?
A whitish-colored layer of dead cells covers your mouth and throat. Enzymes left in the mouth can start to break down this layer of dead skin. When the fresh, raw layer of tissue is exposed to saliva, you might feel some irritation. To prevent this when mixing enzyme powder with food, eat additional food or drink a beverage afterwards.
3. Enzymes help with food intolerances.
Better breakdown of food, especially proteins, may bring relief from some food intolerances. Restrictive diets for intolerances require you to remove foods. Enzymes break down foods – normal digestion and absorption of nutrients is supported.
Houston Enzymes’ enzyme products can produce as good, or even better results, than the GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) diet.
4. Enzymes can survive stomach acid.
The types of enzymes we use are acid-resistant – stomach acid will not destroy the enzymes. Enzymes derived from pancreas extracts are not active in low (acid) pH. Pancreatic enzymes available by prescription are enteric-coated, meaning they have a protective coating that keeps the enzymes from exposure to stomach acid. Once the pancreatic enzyme passes into the less acidic environment of the small intestine, they will begin to work. Fungal-derived enzymes work in both the stomach and gastrointestinal tract.
See blog post #12 for Part 2 of Eight Facts About Digestive Enzymes Your doctor May Not Be Aware Of!