Wondering when to take digestive enzymes for the best results? The truth is, timing matters. Get yours right so you make the most of your digestive enzyme supplement!
Digestive enzymes can do wonders for your gut health… If you use them correctly. If you don’t get your timing quite right, nothing bad is going to happen, but your supplements may not work the way they should. Which will only lead to frustration on your part and might not even improve your digestive system at all.
Here’s all you should know about when to take digestive enzymes, why timing matters, and what your supplement actually does when you swallow it.
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How Do Digestive Enzymes Work?
Digestive enzymes are tiny proteins held together by amino acids, produced in the pancreas and found throughout the digestive tract; from mouth to small intestine! During the digestive process, they break down the food you eat into substances your body can actually use.
There are multiple types of digestive enzymes. Each one breaks down something different; for example, protease breaks down protein into various amino acids, amylase breaks down carbs into sugars for energy, and lipase breaks down fats into essential fatty acids. And these are just a few examples!
So if that’s how digestive enzymes work, why the need for digestive enzyme supplements? The answer lies in something called digestive enzyme deficiency. When the pancreas isn't producing enough digestive enzymes, your body may struggle to break down foods properly, so you won’t be getting everything you need in your digestive process.
This is where digestive enzyme products come in handy. They replace the enzymes that are lacking so that your digestive system can function normally.
When to Take Digestive Enzymes
There are two sections to this question. Firstly, during which cases of digestive upset would digestive enzymes be helpful? Secondly, if you have a bottle of them and you’re about to start using them, at which point during the day should you take them?
Let’s explore each one in a bit more detail so you can be sure that you’re taking them the right way for your gut health.
Take Them When:
You can’t just take digestive enzymes as a “preventative measure”. They’ll only work when you have a real need for them… Otherwise you’re just spending money on something that won’t be effective.
You’ll get the most out of enzyme supplements if you use them when you’ve been diagnosed with a digestive enzyme deficiency. They’ve also shown great promise as supplements for those with cystic fibrosis and pancreatic cancer.
That being said, here are some symptoms that may indicate an enzyme deficiency. You may want to see your doctor if you have one or more of these symptoms on a regular basis:
- Unusual gassiness
- Abdominal pain
- Oily stools
- Lactose intolerance
- Unintentional weight loss
If you suffer from these symptoms regularly, you may have an enzyme deficiency. If you suffer from them here and there, the problem may be a food intolerance instead. However, it’s best to get a diagnosis from your doctor before you start taking digestive enzymes, because using them when you don’t need them could lead to worse symptoms.
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Digestive enzymes only work if there’s something there for them to work with. In other words, you need to have food for your supplement to work on when you take it.
Most supplements will have instructions on their packaging. It’s important that you follow this to a T! It’s there to ensure that you get the most out of your supplement… In other words, if you use it however you want and you don’t see positive results, it’s not the supplement/company’s fault.
You should take your digestive enzyme tablet about 15 minutes before you eat. This way, the enzymes will have direct contact with your food as you consume it, and can start doing their thing straight away.
It’s common for people to assume that they can pop their digestive enzyme supplement with breakfast and they’ll be good to go for the whole day. But don’t be fooled—this will lead to your supplement being ineffective.
By the time you’ve eaten, the enzymes you ingested will be long gone through your digestive system… Which means they won’t have any effect on your digestive process!
Should I Take Them With Every Meal?
If you’ve been suffering with consistent gastrointestinal symptoms no matter what you eat, then you should take them with each and every meal you consume.
However, if your digestive system flares up in response to certain foods—for example, dairy products or wheat—then you only need to take your supplement before meals that include that particular food.
When Not to Take Digestive Enzymes
There have been no reported side effects of digestive enzyme supplements if you take them as required and for a legitimate problem. As mentioned above, if you’re taking them “just in case”, you may inadvertently cause some of the symptoms you’re trying to avoid!
Another excellent reason to consult your doctor before taking them is that they may interact with certain diabetic medications and antacids, rendering them less effective.
Digestive Enzyme vs Probiotic Supplement
Although both pancreatic enzymes and probiotics assist with the digestive process, they’re quite different. As you know, digestive enzymes are proteins responsible for breaking down the food you eat into smaller, usable particles in the body.
Probiotics are living organisms that reside in your gut and support the work on the enzymes. They maintain the balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria in your gut environment, allowing enzymes to work efficiently. And then there’s prebiotics, which are essentially food for probiotics.
This is another reason it’s best to double-check with your doctor before going on a supplement—you need to know which one would solve your gut issue!
Knowing that you need to take digestive enzymes is one part of better gut health. The second part is knowing when to take digestive enzymes, because if you get it wrong, all their amazing properties go to waste!
To be safe, grab your digestive enzyme supplement before every meal. This way, you’ll always be covered and you can feel great no matter what you eat!