Digestive enzymes play a key role in breaking down the food you eat. These proteins speed up chemical reactions that turn nutrients into substances that your digestive tract can absorb.
Different types of enzymes target different nutrients:
- Amylase breaks down carbs and starches
- Protease works on proteins
- Lipase handles fats
Many people take enzyme supplements for problems such as acid reflux, gas, bloating and diarrhea. These might contain amylase, lipase and protease. Some contain lactase and alpha-galactosidase (an enzyme the body doesn’t make, even in healthy people without enzyme insufficiency). Alpha-galactosidase can help break down a type of non-absorbable fiber called galactooligosaccharides (GOS), mostly found in beans, root vegetables and some dairy products. GOS is known to be beneficial, but it can cause gas and bloating in some individuals.