A Nutrition Consultant Picks the Best Digestive Enzymes
From bloating and flatulence to heaviness and weight gain, we have all experienced the traditional symptoms that come along with not properly digesting our foods. Whether you're vegan, love your steak, or opt for a grain-free, paleo way of eating, adding one of the best digestive enzymes to your diet can immensely help you break down your food and absorb nutrients.
What are Digestive Enzymes?
Digestive enzymes are a vital part of our digestive system. Our body naturally makes them in order to help us break down our carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Without these enzymes, the nutrients in your food goes to waste.
But as we age, along with other factors such as stress and certain health conditions, our bodies sometimes have a harder time producing enough of these enzymes needed to assist in our daily food intake. This is where adding in one of the digestive enzyme supplements can come in handy.
How Do Digestive Enzyme Supplements Work?
Digestive enzymes take the place of our body's natural enzymes, helping to break down our macronutrients. Once these foods are broken down, our nutrients are absorbed into our bodies through the wall of the small intestine and then distributed through the bloodstream. Because they are meant to mimic our natural enzymes, the supplement must be taken before we eat. This way, they can work their magic as the food hits our stomach and small intestine. If we don't take them with our food, they won't be much use.
With all of the different products and brands on the market today, how are you supposed to know which one is right for you?
Here are our top picks for the best digestive enzyme supplements that you can get your hands on today.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
This product is advertised for those who are looking to have a "flatter stomach." It includes 18 of the full spectrum enzymes your body needs to break down your macronutrients, as well as ginger, fennel, and peppermint. These herbs have been shown to help assist in the production of naturally occurring enzymes within our digestive tract. With this trio of herbs enhancing the added digestive enzymes within the supplement, your body will have a much easier time breaking down your meals; allowing you more comfort when eating, less bloating, and hopefully fewer digestive issues.
Aside from being showcased in some of the top media outlets in the health and wellness space, HUM Nutrition rings true to our product philosophies.
During their research and development process, the company collaborates with the top nutritionists and researchers in the country to help identify the highest-quality ingredients needed to deliver the best results for customers. The majority of HUM Nutrition's products are vegetarian and the company is actively working with suppliers to develop a plant-based option. This drive comes from science-backed research on the environmental effects and benefits of a vegan diet on our planet.
A completely plant-based formula, these digestive enzymes are targeting those with very specific chronic conditions or allergies. On the company's website, Mary Ruth's points out that its products are non-GMO, vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, nightshade-free, sugar-free, celiac-friendly, keto-friendly, and made in a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility.
This formula is also good to use if you take in lactose, as the added enzymes are built to be able to break down this hard-to-digest sugar.
We love that the company's main focus is on creating the highest-quality products using the fewest allergens possible. With the rise of chronic conditions in the Western world, providing health-enhancing supplements that will not contribute to already existing health conditions is vital.
Mary Ruth's offer a one-time order, or a subscribe and save for 10% off.
Right off the bat, this company puts an emphasis on the importance of absorbing your nutrients as best as possible. Whether you eat a perfect diet or have your cheat days often, making sure your body absorbs the nutrients it's being fed is imperative to your overall health. This plant-based supplement goes into the science behind why you may have a hard time digesting your food, even if you are eating a "perfect" diet.
These Feel Good Enzymes seem to be targeting those who follow an already plant-based diet, as this supplement will help break down fiber-rich foods, as well as hard-to-digest fats. With these and any of our other picks for best digestive enzymes, freeing up the energy you need to digest food will allow your body to focus on other aspects of health, resulting in higher amounts of mental clarity and immunity.
These digestive enzymes contain no milk, egg, ﬁsh, shellﬁsh, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, yeast, gluten or preservatives.
The company offers a one-time order, or a subscribe and save for 10% off.
Being able to properly break down and digest your food is essential to your overall health and vitality. Absorbing your nutrients and passing your food is a part of the whole process of detoxification. If you find that you struggle with digestive issues, supplementing with one of the best digestive enzymes may be the thing that allows your body to heal and replenish itself.
We always recommend talking to your doctor about your current GI issues, potential causes, and whether an enzyme replacement is a good choice for you.
Madalyn Hughes has spent the majority of her professional career educating her clients and community on holistic nutrition and natural lifestyle modifications to enhance the quality of their lives. She has been educated as a Holistic Nutrition Practitioner and writing professionally for the past ten years. Madalyn currently lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with her husband and three daughters where she works as a nutrition consultant, as well as a freelance nutrition writer.
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By Lynne Peeples
Editor's note: This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, "Thirsting for Solutions," here.
In late September 2020, officials in Wrangell, Alaska, warned residents who were elderly, pregnant or had health problems to avoid drinking the city's tap water — unless they could filter it on their own.
Unintended Consequences<p>Chemists first discovered disinfection by-products in treated drinking water in the 1970s. The trihalomethanes they found, they determined, had resulted from the reaction of chlorine with natural organic matter. Since then, scientists have identified more than 700 additional disinfection by-products. "And those only represent a portion. We still don't know half of them," says Richardson, whose lab has identified hundreds of disinfection by-products. </p>
What’s Regulated and What’s Not?<p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently regulates 11 disinfection by-products — including a handful of trihalomethanes (THM) and haloacetic acids (HAA). While these represent only a small fraction of all disinfection by-products, EPA aims to use their presence to indicate the presence of other disinfection by-products. "The general idea is if you control THMs and HAAs, you implicitly or by default control everything else as well," says Korshin.</p><p>EPA also requires drinking water facilities to use techniques to reduce the concentration of organic materials before applying disinfectants, and regulates the quantity of disinfectants that systems use. These rules ultimately can help control levels of disinfection by-products in drinking water.</p>
Click the image for an interactive version of this chart on the Environmental Working Group website.<p>Still, some scientists and advocates argue that current regulations do not go far enough to protect the public. Many question whether the government is regulating the right disinfection by-products, and if water systems are doing enough to reduce disinfection by-products. EPA is now seeking public input as it considers potential revisions to regulations, including the possibility of regulating additional by-products. The agency held a <a href="https://www.epa.gov/dwsixyearreview/potential-revisions-microbial-and-disinfection-byproducts-rules" target="_blank">two-day public meeting</a> in October 2020 and plans to hold additional public meetings throughout 2021.</p><p>When EPA set regulations on disinfection by-products between the 1970s and early 2000s, the agency, as well as the scientific community, was primarily focused on by-products of reactions between organics and chlorine — historically the most common drinking water disinfectant. But the science has become increasingly clear that these chlorinated chemicals represent a fraction of the by-product problem.</p><p>For example, bromide or iodide can get caught up in the reaction, too. This is common where seawater penetrates a drinking water source. By itself, bromide is innocuous, says Korshin. "But it is extremely [reactive] with organics," he says. "As bromide levels increase with normal treatment, then concentrations of brominated disinfection by-products will increase quite rapidly."</p><p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15487777/" target="_blank">Emerging</a> <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.7b05440" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">data</a> indicate that brominated and iodinated by-products are potentially more harmful than the regulated by-products.</p><p>Almost half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of either the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, where saltwater intrusion can be a problem for drinking water supplies. "In the U.S., the rule of thumb is the closer to the sea, the more bromide you have," says Korshin, noting there are also places where bromide naturally leaches out from the soil. Still, some coastal areas tend to be spared. For example, the city of Seattle's water comes from the mountains, never making contact with seawater and tending to pick up minimal organic matter.</p><p>Hazardous disinfection by-products can also be an issue with desalination for drinking water. "As <a href="https://ensia.com/features/can-saltwater-quench-our-growing-thirst/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">desalination</a> practices become more economical, then the issue of controlling bromide becomes quite important," adds Korshin.</p>
Other Hot Spots<p>Coastal areas represent just one type of hot spot for disinfection by-products. Agricultural regions tend to send organic matter — such as fertilizer and animal waste — into waterways. Areas with warmer climates generally have higher levels of natural organic matter. And nearly any urban area can be prone to stormwater runoff or combined sewer overflows, which can contain rainwater as well as untreated human waste, industrial wastewater, hazardous materials and organic debris. These events are especially common along the East Coast, notes Sydney Evans, a science analyst with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG, a collaborator on <a href="https://ensia.com/ensia-collections/troubled-waters/" target="_blank">this reporting project</a>).</p><p>The only drinking water sources that might be altogether free of disinfection by-products, suggests Richardson, are private wells that are not treated with disinfectants. She used to drink water from her own well. "It was always cold, coming from great depth through clay and granite," she says. "It was fabulous."</p><p>Today, Richardson gets her water from a city system that uses chloramine.</p>
Toxic Treadmill<p>Most community water systems in the U.S. use chlorine for disinfection in their treatment plant. Because disinfectants are needed to prevent bacteria growth as the water travels to the homes at the ends of the distribution lines, sometimes a second round of disinfection is also added in the pipes.</p><p>Here, systems usually opt for either chlorine or chloramine. "Chloramination is more long-lasting and does not form as many disinfection by-products through the system," says Steve Via, director of federal relations at the American Water Works Association. "Some studies show that chloramination may be more protective against organisms that inhabit biofilms such as Legionella."</p>
Alternative Approaches<p>When he moved to the U.S. from Germany, Prasse says he immediately noticed the bad taste of the water. "You can taste the chlorine here. That's not the case in Germany," he says.</p><p>In his home country, water systems use chlorine — if at all — at lower concentrations and at the very end of treatment. In the Netherlands, <a href="https://dwes.copernicus.org/articles/2/1/2009/dwes-2-1-2009.pdf" target="_blank">chlorine isn't used at all</a> as the risks are considered to outweigh the benefits, says Prasse. He notes the challenge in making a convincing connection between exposure to low concentrations of disinfection by-products and health effects, such as cancer, that can occur decades later. In contrast, exposure to a pathogen can make someone sick very quickly.</p><p>But many countries in Europe have not waited for proof and have taken a precautionary approach to reduce potential risk. The emphasis there is on alternative approaches for primary disinfection such as ozone or <a href="https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/eco-friendly-way-disinfect-water-using-light/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ultraviolet light</a>. Reverse osmosis is among the "high-end" options, used to remove organic and inorganics from the water. While expensive, says Prasse, the method of forcing water through a semipermeable membrane is growing in popularity for systems that want to reuse wastewater for drinking water purposes.</p><p>Remucal notes that some treatment technologies may be good at removing a particular type of contaminant while being ineffective at removing another. "We need to think about the whole soup when we think about treatment," she says. What's more, Remucal explains, the mixture of contaminants may impact the body differently than any one chemical on its own. </p><p>Richardson's preferred treatment method is filtering the water with granulated activated carbon, followed by a low dose of chlorine.</p><p>Granulated activated carbon is essentially the same stuff that's in a household filter. (EWG recommends that consumers use a <a href="https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/reviewed-disinfection-byproducts.php#:~:text=EWG%20recommends%20using%20a%20home,as%20trihalomethanes%20and%20haloacetic%20acids." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">countertop carbon filter</a> to reduce levels of disinfection by-products.) While such a filter "would remove disinfection by-products after they're formed, in the plant they remove precursors before they form by-products," explains Richardson. She coauthored a <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.9b00023" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019 paper</a> that concluded the treatment method is effective in reducing a wide range of regulated and unregulated disinfection by-products.</p><br>
Greater Cincinnati Water Works installed a granulated activated carbon system in 1992, and is still one of relatively few full-scale plants that uses the technology. Courtesy of Greater Cincinnati Water Works.<p>Despite the technology and its benefits being known for decades, relatively few full-scale plants use granulated active carbon. They often cite its high cost, Richardson says. "They say that, but the city of Cincinnati [Ohio] has not gone bankrupt using it," she says. "So, I'm not buying that argument anymore."</p><p>Greater Cincinnati Water Works installed a granulated activated carbon system in 1992. On a video call in December, Jeff Swertfeger, the superintendent of Greater Cincinnati Water Works, poured grains of what looks like black sand out of a glass tube and into his hand. It was actually crushed coal that has been baked in a furnace. Under a microscope, each grain looks like a sponge, said Swertfeger. When water passes over the carbon grains, he explained, open tunnels and pores provide extensive surface area to absorb contaminants.</p><p>While the granulated activated carbon initially was installed to address chemical spills and other industrial contamination concerns in the Ohio River, Cincinnati's main drinking water source, Swertfeger notes that the substance has turned out to "remove a lot of other stuff, too," including <a href="https://ensia.com/features/drinking-water-contamination-pfas-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">PFAS</a> and disinfection by-product precursors.</p><p>"We use about one-third the amount of chlorine as we did before. It smells and tastes a lot better," he says. "The use of granulated activated carbon has resulted in lower disinfection by-products across the board."</p><p>Richardson is optimistic about being able to reduce risks from disinfection by-products in the future. "If we're smart, we can still kill those pathogens and lower our chemical disinfection by-product exposure at the same time," she says.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://ensia.com/features/drinking-water-disinfection-byproducts-pathogens/" target="_blank">Ensia</a>. </em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649953730#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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Earth had its second-warmest year on record in 2020, just 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.04°F) behind the record set in 2016, and 0.98 degrees Celsius (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA reported January 14.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for 2020, the second-warmest year the globe has seen since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. Record-high annual temperatures over land and ocean surfaces were measured across parts of Europe, Asia, southern North America, South America, and across parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. No land or ocean areas were record cold for the year. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Figure 2. Total ocean heat content (OHC) in the top 2000 meters from 1958-2020. Cheng et al., Upper Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High in 2020, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
Figure 3. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Sea surface temperature were approximately one degree Celsius below average over the past month, characteristic of moderate La Niña conditions. Tropical Tidbits
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