Can a Digestive Enzyme Really Help You Banish Bloat?
Should you consider taking an over-the-counter digestive enzyme to nix bloat? Health's medical editor weighs in.
Digestive enzymes help the body break down foods. So if you have a certain intolerance that causes bloating or digestive upset, an enzyme may alleviate some of the symptoms. For instance, taking lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose, might benefit people with lactose intolerance. Folks who get gas from eating beans or certain veggies, such as broccoli, may find it helpful to take the enzyme alpha-galactosidase, which helps digest the sugars in these foods.
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If you don’t have a particular food sensitivity and you’re experiencing ordinary bloating here and there, it’s fine to do a trial run for a couple of weeks with over-the-counter alpha-galactosidase. FYI: Some OTC enzymes can interact with blood thinners or other medicines, so if you’re on any medication, you should speak with your doctor before taking one. Keep in mind, too, that bloating can be caused by many things besides diet (dehydration, eating too quickly—the list goes on), so it’s worth considering whether something else is triggering the bloat.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.