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Clinical Evidence on Digestive Enzymes

What Are Digestive Enzymes & Why Are They Important to Digestive Health?

Alexa Abdelaziz

By Alexa Abdelaziz, PhD, Director Research & Development, MEND

What are Proteases?

Unlike most muscle recovery supplements, MEND Regenerate stands out for uniquely including proteases in the formulation. Proteases are enzymes, which are proteins that facilitate and speed up metabolic processes. Proteases break down protein into amino acids. These enzymes are biological catalysts that selectively and efficiently speed up chemical reactions in the human body. 

There are thousands of different enzymes in the human body, all with various critical functions. Their key functions involve respiration, digestion, muscle and nerve function. There are so many enzymes, mainly due to the fact that various metabolic functions require a whole complex of enzymes to complete hundreds of reactions.

Focusing on one of the main functions of enzymes, food digestion, there are three main classes of digestive enzymes: 

  • Proteases (break down protein into amino acids)
  • Amylases (break down starches and carbohydrates into sugars)
  • Lipases (break down lipids into fatty acids and glycerol). 

What is Protease Supplementation?

The proteases in MEND have been clinically proven to enhance absorption of protein in the body [1]. Supplementation with proteases has also been shown to facilitate muscle repair and recovery, reduce inflammation, and allow for faster restoration of the muscle’s contractile function after exercise. One study found that protease supplemented (PS) runners showed improved recovery of contractile function, suggesting a better range of motion, meaning that there was less loss of the ability to move the knee in a range of motion. This study also showed that the PS runners had a higher power production for knee flexion, the ability to fully straighten the knee. [2].

Another study showed that protease supplementation demonstrated improvements in muscle function. These results showed that the benefits of protease supplementation are seemingly due to differences in the inflammatory muscle recovery process, rather than the prevention or reduction in muscle damage itself [3].

Key Proteases in MEND

Some of the key proteases in MEND are papain, bromelain, and lipase. Where do these enzymes come from and what do they specifically do?

  • Lipase. Derived from: Animal enzymes. Lipase has been clinically proven to reduce bloating and other symptoms of postprandial distress syndrome, which causes an unpleasant sense of fullness in the abdomen after a meal. [7]
  • Papain. Derived from: Papaya fruit. Papain has been shown to break down meat fibers to ensure protein absorption and amino acid transport [4].
  • Bromelain. Derived from: Pineapple plant. Bromelain has been clinically proven to have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties [5].

Both papain and bromelain have both been found to exhibit antitumor effects in human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines, meaning they inhibit the growth of tumors in bile duct cancer. [6]

Another key ingredient utilized by MEND is Aminogen®. Aminogen® is a patented blend of digestive proteases from Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus oryzae. Aminogen® has been clinically shown to increase the absorption of processed Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC). This study found significant increases in the area under the concentration time curve (AUC – this measure reflects the actual body exposure to Aminogen® after a dose is given), and increases in the total serum amino acid levels, individual serum amino acid levels and nitrogen balance, further supporting the increased rate of WPC absorption [1]. 

Industrial scale production techniques for WPC have been shown to hinder the activity of digestive enzymes in cell culture. This can be compensated for by adding proteolytic enzymes, which break down proteins into smaller polypeptides or amino acids. Adding proteolytic enzymes increases solubility (the ability to dissolve), degree of hydrolysis (breakdown due to reaction with water), and digestibility, all important factors in an effective nutrition solution. This unique ingredient is important for ensuring optimal protein absorption without any negative digestive side effects. 

MEND is committed to providing high-quality, clinically-supported ingredients in effective and bioavailable forms. 

Sources

[1] Oben, J., Kothari, S.C. & Anderson, M.L. An open label study to determine the effects of an oral proteolytic enzyme system on whey protein concentrate metabolism in healthy males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 5, 10 (2008).

[2] Miller PC, Bailey SP, Barnes ME, Derr SJ, Hall EE. The effects of protease supplementation on skeletal muscle function and DOMS following downhill running. J Sports Sci. 2004 Apr;22(4):365-72. PMID: 15161110.

[3] Buford TW, Cooke MB, Redd LL, Hudson GM, Shelmadine BD, Willoughby DS. Protease supplementation improves muscle function after eccentric exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Oct;41(10):1908-14. PMID: 19727022.

[4] Ionescu, Aurelia & Aprodu, Iuliana & Pascaru, Gina. (2008). Effect of papain and bromelin on muscle and collagen proteins in beef meat. Food Technology, New Series, II. 31. 

[5] Brien, S., Lewith, G., Walker, A., Hicks, S. M., & Middleton, D. (2004). Bromelain as a Treatment for Osteoarthritis: a Review of Clinical Studies. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 1(3), 251–257.

[6] Müller A, Barat S, Chen X, Bui KC, Bozko P, Malek NP, Plentz RR. Comparative study of antitumor effects of bromelain and papain in human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines. Int J Oncol. 2016 May;48(5):2025-34. Epub 2016 Mar 1. PMID: 26935541.

[7] Levine, M. E., Koch, S. Y., & Koch, K. L. (2015). Lipase Supplementation before a High-Fat Meal Reduces Perceptions of Fullness in Healthy Subjects. Gut and liver9(4), 464–469.