E is for Enzymes

by Kelly Dorfman, MS, Co-founder DDR

Children diagnosed with developmental delays have a high rate of digestive pathology. Studies suggest between 58 and 93% of children with gastro-intestinal (GI) symptoms, and slightly less than half of those without noticeable symptoms, have low digestive enzyme activity. While special diets, supplemental nutrients, good bacteria replacement and yeast treatment are all needed to heal these children’s guts, adding enzymes may be necessary for the complete restoration of digestive function.

What are Enzymes? Enzymes are special proteins that catalyze essential biochemical reactions. There are two main types of enzymes: metabolic and digestive. Metabolic enzymes facilitate activity in the immune, endocrine and other systems. Our focus is on digestive enzymes, which are necessary to break down food.

Where do Enzymes come From? Fresh, raw food is a natural source of enzymes. The gut lining in healthy digestive tracts also produces enzymes. Efficient digestion requires enzymes from both sources. The guts of picky eaters, damaged by the overuse of antibiotics and immunizations, may produce too few digestive enzymes. Supplemental digestive enzymes are necessary when the diet and gut together supply insufficient amounts.

Can your child benefit from supplemental digestive enzymes? Knowing the A, B Cs of enzymes may help you decide.

How do I Choose the Right Enzymes?

There are many brands and types of enzymes on the market. Even with laboratory testing, it is difficult to know which will work best until you try. Enzymes are specific for the substance they break down. For example, lipase is an enzyme that only works on fats (lipids). Dipeptyl dipeptidase (DPP) IV cleaves proteins that have proline in the second position (such as gluten and casein). If a DPP IV enzyme does not help, a different mixed enzyme product may. When the gut is inflamed, as in autistic enterocolitis, enzymes can cause more irritation even if the child needs them. Watch for crankiness or worse GI symptoms. When in doubt, take them out and consult a good health care professional. Enzymes are a safe and critical part of digestion. An elimination diet is often not enough to heal underlying problems. Consider enzymes as the next step in the digestive healing process.

For more information on enzymes read Goldberg’s Allergy Free: An Alternative Medicine Definitive GuideAllergy Free and Cutler’s The Food Allergy Cure: A New Solution to Food Cravings, Obesity, Depression, Headaches, Arthritis, and FatigueThe Food Allergy Cure or go to www.klaire.com, and www.enzymeuniversity.com

[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 9, Number 1 - Fall, 2003]

All material in this web site is given for information purposes only and is not to be substituted for advice from your health care provider.


5801 Beacon Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15217 | P: 800.497.0944 | F: 412.422.1374

Page last modified: February 23, 2009
©2009 Developmental Delay Resources. All rights reserved.