Digestive enzymes are complex proteins involved in digestion that stimulate chemical changes in other substances. They work optimally at specific temperature and pH. Digestive enzymes include pancreatic enzymes, plant-derived enzymes, and fungal-derived enzymes. There are three classes of digestive enzymes: proteolytic enzymes needed to digest protein, lipases needed to digest fat, and amylases needed to digest carbohydrates.

Where are they found?

Only small amounts of the animal-based proteolytic enzymes, trypsin and chymotrypsin, are found in the diet; however, the pancreas can synthesize these enzymes. The plant-based proteolytic enzyme bromelain comes from the stems of pineapples and is useful in many conditions. Papain comes from unripe papayas. All of these enzymes are available as supplements.

Who is likely to be deficient?

People with pancreatic insufficiency and cystic fibrosis frequently require supplemental pancreatic enzymes (which include proteolytic enzymes, lipases, and amylases). In addition, those with celiac disease1 or Crohn’s disease2 and perhaps some people suffering from indigestion3 may be deficient in pancreatic enzymes. As bromelain and papain are not essential, deficiencies do not exist.


Kay’s Note: With time and strict adherence to the SCD foods, including the homemade lactose-free yogurt, the SCD typically takes care of digestive insufficiencies.  If you decide to try digestive enzymes, do make sure to check all ingredients to see that they are SCD legal. Most enzyme supplements are NOT SCD legal.