Should You Be Taking a Digestive Enzyme?

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

January 4, 2021

You are what you eat, right?

Well… not actually.  You are what you digest.

If your body isn’t able to break down the food you put in your mouth, it’s not going to do you any good.

This can become an issue as you age.

Your body naturally slows down as the years go by.  And the same thing goes for your digestion.  This makes it harder for you to pull the vital nutrients you need from your foods.[1]

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Then, a wide range of age-related diseases can make it so your body doesn’t absorb the nutrients you need.[2]

Even if you are relatively healthy, your body naturally produces less gastric acids after age 55 or 60.  This means you don’t digest your food as well as you did when you were younger.

For instance, 30% of seniors will have less hydrochloric acid in their system.  They have fewer acid-producing cells on the lining of the stomach.[3]

So, you won’t break out the vitamins and minerals from the foods you’re eating. This can put some at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies which could cause serious health problems.[4]

A recent study done in France found a high level of vitamin, mineral, and omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies in men and women over the age of 70 years.[5] Having too little vitamin B12 – leading to a dangerous condition called pernicious anemia – is also common among seniors.[6]

Your body also produces 40% less pepsin as you age. [7]  This is an important digestive enzyme that breaks down protein into its amino acid pieces.

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Get the Most Bang for your Buck

Personally, I fight back against this problem by adding digestive enzymes to my daily routine.  They help my body break down and use the nutrients in my meals.

Researchers have looked at digestive enzymes and confirmed that they work.  People who take these enzymes will feel less symptoms of poor digestion (gas, bloating, and a feeling of fullness.) [8]

Most of the digestive enzymes you produced in your youth were created in your pancreas, stomach and small intestine.  Even your mouth creates digestive enzymes (in your saliva) to help get the entire digestive process started. And chewing your food thirty times, mixing it with your salivary digestive enzymes, gives the rest of your digestive tract a head start in getting the most nutrients out of what you’re eating.

I recommend that you work with your physician to identify and tailor a plan to help heal your gut’s major stressors.  Then, take a comprehensive digestive enzyme to restore your overall balance.

Look for a formula that contains a good mix of enzymes including:

  • Amylase for carbohydrate digestion
  • Protease to help digest proteins
  • Lipase for the digestion of fats
  • Maltase to convert complex sugars in grain foods to glucose
  • Cellulase to break down fibers
  • Sucrase to help digest sugars

And very importantly if you’re over the age of sixty, betaine HCl and pepsin. One of the best out there also has pancreatin, bromelain and papain…the one I take, Orthodigestzyme from Orthomolecular Labs.

Be sure to take the digestive enzymes at least 30-minutes before you eat.  This will help you get the maximum benefits.

I take these digestive enzymes so I can get the most bang for my buck when it comes to my meals.  I recommend you do the same.


[1] Brownie S. Why are elderly individuals at risk of nutritional deficiency? Int J Nurs Pract. 2006 Apr;12(2):110-18.

[2] Montgomery RD, Haeney MR, Ross IN, et al. The ageing gut: a study of intestinal absorption in relation to nutrition in the elderly. Q J Med. 1978 Apr;47(186):197-24.

[3] Champagne, Elaine T. “Low gastric hydrochloric acid secretion and mineral bioavailability.” Mineral absorption in the monogastric GI tract. Springer, Boston, MA, 1989. 173-184.

[4] Ahmed FE. Effect of nutrition on the health of the elderly. J Am Diet Assoc. 1992 Sep;92(9):1102-8.

[5] Carriere I, Delcourt C, Lacroux A, Gerber M. Nutrient intake in an elderly population in southern France (POLANUT): deficiency in some vitamins, minerals and omega-3 PUFA. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2007 Jan;77(1):57-65.

[6] Wolters M, Strohle A, Hahn A. Age-associated changes in the metabolism of vitamin B(12) and folic acid: prevalence, aetiopathogenesis and pathophysiological consequences. Z Gerontol Geriatr. 2004 Apr;37(2):109-35.

[7] Feldman, M. A. R. K., et al. “Effects of aging and gastritis on gastric acid and pepsin secretion in humans: a prospective study.” Gastroenterology 110.4 (1996): 1043-1052.

[8] Suarez F, Levitt MD, Adshead J, Barkin JS. Pancreatic supplements reduce symptomatic response of healthy subjects to a high fat meal. Dig Dis Sci. 1999 Jul;44(7):1317-21.

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