12 Foods That Contain Natural Digestive Enzymes
Here are 12 foods that are rich in natural digestive enzymes and support gut health

Digestion is a complex process that involves multiple organs that work together to break down food into nutrients that fuel your body, and digestive enzymes are a crucial part of this process.

The main types of digestive enzymes include:

  • Lipase: Breaks down fats
  • Amylase: Breaks down carbohydrates
  • Proteases and peptidases: Break down proteins
  • Lactase: Breaks down lactose, the sugar in milk and milk-based products

Most healthy people produce digestive enzymes on their own. Sometimes, however, due to age or other factors, your body is unable to produce enough digestive enzymes, which can negatively affect gut health.

Here are 12 foods that are rich in natural digestive enzymes and support gut health.

12 foods that contain natural digestive enzymes

1. Papaya

Papaya is one of the best and most well-researched enzyme-rich foods. It contains papain, chymopapain, glycyl endopeptidase, and glutamine acyltransferase, which help digest proteins.

Consuming papaya can help ease constipation, bloatingheartburn, and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

2. Pineapple

Pineapple is high in bromelain, a family of enzymes that includes peroxidase, acid phosphatase, cysteine proteinases, and proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes.

Bromelain helps break down proteins into amino acids and promotes cardiovascular, respiratory, bone, and digestive health.

3. Mango

Mangoes contain amylase enzymes that help break down complex carbohydrates into glucose and maltose and improve starch and protein digestion.

The amylase enzymes in mangoes become more active as the fruit ripens. This is why it is recommended to select ripe mangoes when possible.

4. Kiwifruit

Kiwis contain actinidin, a cysteine protease enzyme that helps digest proteins and increases the rate of protein absorption in the small intestine. In addition to aiding digestion, kiwifruit also relieves bloating and constipation.

5. Banana

Bananas contain the natural digestive enzymes amylase and glucosidase, which help break down complex starch into simple sugars that are more easily absorbed. Bananas are also an excellent source of fiber, which supports digestion and gut health.

6. Avocado

Avocados contain lipase, a digestive enzyme that breaks down dietary fat and helps you digest high-fat foods. Lipase can reduce bloating, and flatulence, and even support immune health, especially in people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

7. Raw honey

Raw honey contains a wide range of digestive enzymes, including diastase, amylase, invertase, and protease.  Diastase helps digest starch, amylase breaks down starch into sugars, invertase breaks down sucrose, and protease breaks down protein into amino acids.

8. Ginger

Ginger contains the protein-digesting enzyme zingibain, which is responsible for its nausea-fighting properties. Ginger helps the stomach contract, moving food through the digestive system faster.

9. Kefir

Kefir is a yogurt-like fermented drink that contains lipase, protease, and lactase enzymes. Kefir may help with lactose intolerance and is rich in probiotics that improve overall gut health.

10. Miso

Miso is made from fermented soybeans and contains several digestive enzymes, including lipases, proteases, amylases, and lactases. Miso can thus help ease digestion and relieve symptoms of irritable bowel disease.

11. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is shredded, fermented cabbage and is one of the healthiest sources of natural digestive enzymes. It also contains lactic acid bacteria which can alleviate many digestive issues.

12. Kimchi

Kimchi is a spicy, fermented Korean side dish that contains protease, lipase, and amylase. These enzymes are formed during the fermentation process and enhance the nutritional value of the fermented vegetables.

QUESTION

According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

Why are digestive enzymes important for gut health?

Digestive enzymes help break food into smaller pieces so that the body can absorb and use the nutrients. Other than salivary amylase (present in the mouth), most digestive enzymes are activated in the acidic environment of the stomach. However, some work in the small and large intestines as well.

Over time, digestive enzyme deficiency can lead to:

If left untreated, chronic enzyme deficiency can lead to:

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Medically Reviewed on 7/14/2022
References
Image Source: iStock image

WebMD. What Are Digestive Enzymes? https://www.webmd.com/diet/what-are-digestive-enzymes

Johns Hopkins Medicine. Digestive Enzymes and Digestive Enzyme Supplements. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/digestive-enzymes-and-digestive-enzyme-supplements