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Digital Subscriptions > Vegan Food & Living Magazine > April 2018 > Do I need digestive enzymes?

Do I need digestive enzymes?

Lee Holmes guides you through the foods that will aid your digestion

Digestive enzymes are another vital piece of the guthealth puzzle. They break down larger molecules of food into more easily absorbed particles, and so are essential for good digestion and nutrient absorption. Without digestive enzymes we cannot process our food.

Through a range of complicated processes, digestive enzymes break down food into amino acids, fattyu acids, cholesterol, simple sugars and nucleic acids, whereas intestinal enzymes metabolise sugars, and pancreatic enzymes deal with fats and amino acids.

Digestive enzymes help to heal leaky gut by taking stress off the gastrointestinal tract, they assist the body to digest gluten, and help to counteract the enzyme inhibitors and anti-nutrients found in nuts, seeds, beans, potatoes and lentils.

People who have age-related enzyme insufficiency, leaky gut, liver disease, Crohn’s disease and other digestive diseases may require digestive enzymes in the form of supplements. However, certain foods can naturally enhance digestive enzyme production, so if you feel like you need a little help, put these in your kitchen medicine cupboard.


Contains the enzyme bromelain, which can aid in the digestion of proteins.


Traditionally used to aid digestion and maintain appetite. Studies show it helps suppress increases in blood glucose and is highly anti-inflammatory to the gut. Fenugreek acts as a decongestant to the bile ducts and supports normal bile flow.


Contains enzymes such as mangiferin, katechol oxidase and lactase, which can all help with metabolising sugars and proteins.


In combination, these are great for digestion. Olive oil triggers the release of a hormone that improves fat and protein digestion, and lemon juice helps get your saliva flowing, speeding up the digestive process from the beginning. A great way to improve bile flow and digestion is to mix the two ingredients and take each morning or on an empty stomach.


Contains the digestive enzyme papain, which is most concentrated in the fruit when it is unripe. Papain is wonderful for helping to digest tough fibres, breaking them down into smaller proteins, peptides (short chains of and amino acids.


Wonderful for increasing your bile flow, and for promoting healthy glucose metabolism by stimulating the body’s natural production of insulin.

Become a bile guru

Another way you can help support the digestive process and assist nutrient uptake is by eating foods that promote the flow of bile. Bile movers, or cholagogues, work by stimulating bile from the liver through to the gall bladder and then into the intestines, ensuring the optimum breakdown and uptake of nutrients.

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About Vegan Food & Living Magazine

Are you a vegan that's cooking on a budget? This issue is for you! The April edition is packed with dishes that compromise on the cost rather than the flavour. Also, we check out the history of plant milk, get creative with tacos, have fun foraging and discover the top 10 ingredients with medicinal benefits. We've also increased the number of pages in this issue to 132, so there are even more great features for you to check out, including our special eco section. Here you can find out what happens to your waste, we reveal the best way to cut down on plastic and share seven easy eco swaps you can make today. Plus this issue comes with a free meal planner wall chart.