Enzyme Education

What are enzymes?

Enzymes are proteins that accelerate chemical reactions in your body. Enzymes are formed by stringing together between 100 and 1,000 amino acids in a very specific order. The chain of amino acids then folds into a unique shape. That shape allows the enzyme to carry out specific chemical reactions. The enzyme speeds that reaction up tremendously.

What do they do?

The purpose of an enzyme in a cell is to allow the cell to carry out chemical reactions very quickly. These reactions allow the cell to build things or take things apart as needed. This is how a cell grows and reproduces. At the most basic level, a cell is really a little bag full of chemical reactions that are made possible by enzymes! Cells use enzymes internally to grow, reproduce and create energy, and they often excrete enzymes outside their cell walls as well.

What are digestive enzymes?

Digestive Enzymes specifically work to facilitate the digestion, absorption and transportation of nutrients. They also work to promote timely elimination of digestive waste products that are not of use to the body. Without enzymes proper digestion can not occur, our cells would not receive adequate nutrition and the body would begin to completely shut down.

Some digestive enzymes you may have heard of include:

  • Protease
  • Amylases
  • Lipases
  • Cellulases

Why supplemental enzymes?

Since we know that enzymes are essential for everyday life, it is important to realize that there are factors that can decrease or inactivate enzymes. While your body produces these enzymes, the digestive process places a large burden on your system. The greater stress we place on the system, the less efficient the body becomes.

Supplemental digestive enzymes will support your body’s ability to more completely digest and absorb the available nutrients from the food you eat to nourish the cells of your body. When we subject our bodies to negative influences, like a diet high in processed foods, we put constant stress on our digestive system, forcing it to function in less than optimal conditions.

External factors that work against our digestive system include:

  • Stress and fatigue
  • Eating too quickly and/or not chewing enough
  • A poor diet
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Cooking foods at high temperatures

Additionally, the natural process of aging takes its toll on all of our body’s systems, including the digestive tract. With age comes less efficient processing of foods. There are varying degrees to be sure, some seem to age more quickly than others, but time will inevitably reduce the efficiency of our digestive tract.

Poor nutrition resulting from poor digestion and absorption leads to accumulation of food particles in our intestines. These undigested particles eventually become toxic to our health. This can lead to multiple symptoms of poor digestion such as:

  • Bloating or diarrhea
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Constipation
  • Ulcerative colitis

Digestive enzyme supplementation simply supports the digestive system and supports the efficient breakdown of food, absorption of nutients and elimination of waste..

Plant enzymes vs. animal enzymes?

  • Plant enzymes are enzymes that plants produce. These types of enzymes are widely used for supplementation because they are safe, more stable throughout the digestive tract, and can be distributed without a prescription
  • Animal enzymes are prescription enzymes, known as Pancreatin, that are harvested from porcine (pig) pancreas. This is typically only prescribed by medical doctors for patients with pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.

Why Z-Health enzymes?

Z-Health's proprietary enzyme blends are highly specific and based on more than 20 years of clinical experience. We are is committed to providing plant-based, pharmaceutical-grade digestive enzymes that are of the highest quality. Our digestive enzymes are natural, safe and effective for supporting your digestive health.
Z-Health is committed to delivering effective and consistent product, and will only work with factories that adhere to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards as defined by the FDA to ensure product integrity.

Comparing Enzyme Products

It is important to note that there are a wide range of enzymes available, they vary from type to type, and supplier to supplier. When comparing different enzyme-based products, it is important to consider the enzyme category (protease, lipase, cellulase or carbohydrase), but the single most important piece of information is the potency, or activity of the enzyme.

Reading the label: Active units vs. weight

The activity/potency is a measure of how much enzyme is needed to accomplish a specific reaction within a specified time. The label should show activity levels, not just milligrams, or else you may not know what you are really getting.

For example, product ‘A’ could have 500 milligrams of lactase enzyme testing 100 activity units while product ‘B’ has 500 milligrams of a lactase enzyme testing 1,000 activity units. Product ‘B’ offers 10x’s the activity of product ‘A’ and is superior in terms of activity, but if active units are not displayed clearly, there is little basis for comparison.

Activity Unit Measurement

The system for determining enzyme potency used by the American food industry is derived from the Food Chemical Codex (FCC). The FCC is a compendium of standards that promote quality and safety of food additives such as preservatives, flavoring, coloring and nutrients. Developed following passage of the 1958 Food Additives amendment to the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, to date, five editions have been published (1966, 1972, 1981, 1996, and 2003). A link to the compendium can be found here: Institute of Medicine FCC

Enzymes found in Z-Health products, and their standardized activity abbreviations:

  • Alpha-Galactosidase-GALU (Galactosidase units)
  • Amylase-DU (Dextrinizing Units)
  • Bromelain - GDU (Gelatin Digesting Units) or FCCPU
  • Catalase - Baker Units
  • Cellulase - CU (Cellulase unit)
  • Glucoamylase - AG (Amyloglucosidase Units)
  • Hemicellulase - HCU (Hemicellulase Units)
  • Invertase - INVU (Invertase Activity unit)
  • Lactase - LU (Lactase unit)
  • Lipase - FIP (Federation Internationale Pharmceutique)
  • Maltase - DP (Degrees of Diastatic Power)
  • Nattokinase - FU (Fibrinolytic Units)
  • Pectinase - AJDU (Apple Juice Depectinizing Units)
  • Phytase - PU Phytase Units
  • Protease-HUT (Hemoglobin Unit Tyrosine base)
  • Xylanase - XU (Xylanase Units)

Top of page