If you’re following a keto diet and experiencing side effects, you’re not alone! Here’s what you can do about it. Eating a high-fat, low-carb diet can cause some gastrointestinal symptoms and challenges. Fortunately, there is a solution. This can be accomplished by taking an ingestive enzyme product that contains a lot of lipase. In this article, we will explain what digestive enzymes are, how they work, 6 signs that you need take enzymes supplements for keto, how to buy them and the benefits of taking them.
What are Digestive Enzymes?
Chemically speaking, digestive enzymes are small, specialized proteins produced by your digestive system to break down the foods and beverages you consume into usable macro- and micro-nutrients. Your body is then able to absorb these nutrients and perform all of its duties. The digestion process begins in your mouth, where you chew your food, breaking it down into smaller pieces that your body can process more easily. Then your saliva uses its special chemical power to further break down your food until it reaches your stomach, which has its own digestive acids.
But that may not be enough to do the whole job. So that’s where the digestive enzymes come in and take over. Once any undigested food particles reach your small intestine, these enzymes come out and do the job. They break down your food and drink and convert it into a usable form of energy.
Now, even though these enzymes are found in your small intestine (SI), most of them are actually produced in your pancreas and then transported to your SI as needed. This is why they are also called pancreatic enzymes.
There are several types of digestive enzymes, and each has a unique job to do. For example, you may have heard of lactase, which is a popular digestive enzyme that helps digest the lactose (or sugar) in milk. People with lactose intolerance issues often use this digestive enzyme to combat the uncomfortable side effects that occur when consuming dairy products.
Other important enzymes also have their own roles, including:
- Lipases, which break down fatty acids
- Amylases and maltase, which digest starches and simple sugars
- Peptidases and proteases, which break down proteins
- Elastase, which process elastin and other proteins
As you can see, enzyme production is critical to optimal digestive health. Under normal circumstances, your body produces enough digestive enzymes to properly break down the food you eat so you can absorb all the micro and macro nutrients.
However, if this doesn’t happen, things can quickly turn sour.
How can Enzymes Help?
There are thousands of enzymes in our bodies that support tens of thousands of functions. Most people’s digestive systems are not optimized for high-fat diets because they consume large amounts of sugar and carbohydrates throughout their lives. The body makes specific enzymes for digesting each of the major nutrients. Lipids (fats) are much harder for the body to break down. If you don’t produce enough of the right kinds of enzymes to digest a high-fat intake, or if you’ve had your gallbladder removed, you may experience problems such as occasional heartburn, indigestion, gas, bloating, or poor bowel movements. You can always try to increase your consumption of high-enzyme foods; however, the requirements of the keto diet complicate this approach. Many high enzyme foods are not allowed on a keto diet due to their high carbohydrate content. In addition, many of the enzymes we naturally obtain from food are destroyed during cooking or processing. These two realities make it more difficult to increase enzyme intake with food alone. Thankfully, this problem can be solved with enzyme supplementation.
Lipase can be a smart addition to a keto diet. Lipase is the main enzyme involved in the digestion of lipids (fats). It hydrolyzes lipids to form fatty acids and glycerol. When you are on a high-fat diet, the pancreas must be able to handle producing large amounts of lipase, and supplementing with lipase can take some of the burden off. If you are deficient in lipase, you may be at risk for high triglyceride levels and high cholesterol, which may put you at risk for developing heart disease.
Proteases are digestive enzymes that assist in breaking down high-protein foods. These enzymes break down proteins into smaller chains of peptide bonds or smaller units called amino acids by hydrolyzing the peptide bonds. Amino acids are the building blocks of our cells, tissues and muscles. They also play an important role in the transport and storage of nutrients in our bodies. Because meat and eggs are essential elements of this diet, your protein consumption may see a dramatic increase. If you have ever known someone who has had digestive and gas problems on a high protein diet, then you will understand the argument for supplementing with proteases to help digest protein properly.
Not supplementing with digestive enzymes is widely considered to be the biggest mistake you can make on a keto diet. Whether you’re on a keto diet or not, supplementing with enzymes is usually a good idea. By taking enzymes, you can optimize the digestion of each meal, which means you can get more nutrients out of the food you eat.
6 More Signs You May Need Digestive Enzymes
Are you experiencing any of the following?
- Indigestion or acid reflux after eating
- Chronic fatigue
If you answered “no” to this list of red flags and you don’t have one of the medical conditions we just discussed, you probably don’t need to supplement with digestive enzymes because your body is probably already producing the right amount of them.
However, if you answered “yes” to any of these warning signs and you have the medical conditions in the previous section – including irregular bowel movements – it may be a good idea to add digestive enzymes to your life.
Before you do so, be sure to consult with your healthcare professional to get the green light and make sure you’re not hiding a more serious digestive problem or even a food intolerance, which can also trigger these symptoms.
There’s another group of people who may benefit from supplementing with digestive enzymes: new keto dieters.
How to buy a Keto Digestive Enzyme Supplement?
One thing that almost all digestive enzyme supplements on the market have in common is that they are “one size fits all”. In other words, one universal product should be equally beneficial to everyone, regardless of what they eat. This simply isn’t true.
Your body is smart; it knows which enzymes it needs, and how many it needs to break down the food you consume. Everyone is better served by having an enzyme supplement that is designed to digest the food they actually eat.
So if you want a digestive enzyme that can do the whole job when you follow a keto diet, here are some suggestions:
- Buy a product that is specially for the keto diet.
- Look for a supplement that provides multiple types of proteases, lipases and amylases. This is important because many different digestive enzymes have specialized roles and you want to be sure to cover all of them.
- In addition to protease, lipase and amylase, you want products with other enzymes such as beta-glucanase, convertase, maltase, pectinase and phytase.
- Choose a supplement that provides some acid-stable protease that works even at the high acidity of the lower stomach.
- Make sure your supplement provides 10,000 FIP units of lipase.
It may not be easy to remember all of these, so just take a picture of the five bullets above with your smartphone and refer to them as you shop for digestive enzyme products.
Health Benefits of Taking Digestive Enzymes for Keto Diet
Okay, so here are just a few benefits of taking specialized digestive enzymes:
- Energy: It is likely that you will experience more energy because your body is better able to break down and absorb the nutrients in your food.
- Immune Support: Since 70-80% of our immune system tissue is in our digestive system, improving the gut means improving immunity. They are closely related.
- Decreased Digestive Stress: Since your body is under less stress because it doesn’t need to produce additional enzymes to process the higher levels of fat intake associated with a keto diet, your body won’t have to work as hard to digest your high-fat foods. Using enzymes allows your body to use the digestive enzymes it makes to support other bodily functions.
- Feel Better: Not only will you feel great because you will no longer suffer from the symptoms associated with inadequate digestive enzyme levels, but you will also have more energy, less inflammation and better digestion.
- Building up your “enzyme bank.” Researchers believe that we can only make so many enzymes in a lifetime. The faster we use them, the shorter our life span. When you use digestive enzyme supplements, you spend much less of your own enzymes in the digestive process. This leaves more room for other uses, which can translate into countless benefits.