Formulations for Digestive Health: Enzymes, Probiotics and Prebiotics

by Tod Burgess -

The gut microbiome is one of the most exciting areas of science today—and the relevance of the microbiome to health beyond digestion, a hot area for research. Rapidly advancing technology has allowed researchers to learn more about the individual microorganisms present in the body, and their implications for overall health. Recent research on the microbiome has shown its influence extends far beyond the gut, playing a crucial role in both the digestive and immune systems.

The continuous developments in the study of the microbiome open new opportunities for nutraceutical products that influence the gut flora, such as prebiotics, probiotics and enzymes.


Enzyme supplements continue to gain recognition among consumers for their role in digestive health and bioavailability of nutrients from foods. Bioavailability is a key consumer concern, and the ability to breakdown food into its basic and useful components is of critical concern for consumers interested in functional nutrition for growth, development and supporting healthy aging.

The role of digestive enzymes is to break down food-derived fats, carbohydrates and proteins into smaller substances that the body can use. Although the body produces its own digestive enzymes, it may not be enough to completely break down cooked or processed foods. During cooking and processing, the natural enzymes present in raw foods are denatured. In addition, the body doesn’t produce the enzyme cellulase at all; this is an enzyme that breaks down the cell wall of plants, releasing the nutrients for the body to absorb. Those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet are likely missing out on key nutrients from the plant-based foods they’re eating, and would most certainly benefit from an enzyme supplement.

Fortunately, digestive enzymes can provide additional enzymes and help to optimize the digestion process. The complete release and absorption of food nutrients can result in fewer digestive problems.

Based on the significant increase in the number of new products we are developing with our customers (many of them new to enzymes), it is our belief that the industry as a whole is investing more than ever in support for enzyme-based products for digestive health. We are encouraged by the increasing demand from our customers to develop more complex products that have scientific validation and human clinical support where appropriate.

Furthermore, consumers are increasingly recognizing that they might have difficulty with normal digestion of some wheat and dairy foods. Maximizing digestion of these proteins helps to support overall health and wellness, and enzyme-based solutions can help. To address the growing demand for products that address food sensitivities, Deerland Enzymes’ latest products Glutalytic® and Dairylytic® have been designed to optimize digestion of gluten and dairy proteins. Glutalytic helps minimize the unintended consequences of inadvertent gluten consumption, and is supported by a human clinical study. Dairylytic works to help break down not only the lactose associated with dairy foods, but also the proteins that can be difficult to digest and may cause discomfort to sensitive individuals. Fewer dietary restrictions can yield huge quality-of-life benefits.

In the sports nutrition market, the consumption of protein supplements such as whey and plant proteins is a continually growing trend. Enzymes for protein hydrolysis are an ideal complement to these types of protein supplements. Proteolytic (protease) enzymes consumed in conjunction with a whey protein supplement provide some pre-digestion of the protein, in order to take full advantage of the availability of the essential amino acids for building muscle and improving muscle recovery. The pre-digestion also ensures that smaller, non-immunogenic peptides are formed, therefore reducing the potential for discomfort often associated with protein consumption.

To address the issues associated with the consumption of high amounts of dietary protein and protein supplements, Deerland Enzymes introduced a protein hydrolysis product called ProHydrolase®. Backed by two human clinical studies, ProHydrolase has been shown to break down protein into smaller peptides in order for it to be used by the body for muscle recovery as intended, and also reduce potential for digestive discomfort. This advanced enzyme blend has shown a superior ability to break down whey, both in the lab and clinical study. ProHydrolase is also effective on other types of protein, such as soy, casein, hemp and pea.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

There’s been a tremendous increase in awareness of the benefits probiotics can offer for digestive health by helping maintain a healthy balance in the intestinal microbiota. Probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria have been well studied, and the science is supportive of the benefits of these non-spore probiotic strains. Since different strains offer specific benefits, our customers are increasingly seeking a multi-strain formulation of both non-spore and spore-forming probiotics. Based on this demand, more science is emerging to support the benefits of spore-forming probiotic strains, such as Bacillus subtilis. Deerland has genome sequenced for safety, and clinically tested for efficacy, DE111®, a highly effective strain of Bacillus subtilis, a very stable probiotic spore that supports digestive health and works as a complement to many of the non-spore strains also available. The genome sequencing confirmed the strain contained no plasmids, antibiotic-resistant or deleterious genes. The human clinical study showed the strain’s ability to control microbial populations, aid in digestion and maintain general health.

In addition, research has shown there are certain prebiotics that can increase the benefits of probiotics; however, these fiber-based prebiotics often come along with several drawbacks. In response to this growing trend, Deerland’s research and development team recently introduced a unique prebiotic that is not fiber- or starch-based, is highly effective in small doses (15 mg) and does not exhibit any of the drawbacks of more commonly used prebiotics. This patent-pending product, called PreforPro®, is backed by both in vitro and in vivo studies demonstrating its superiority to typical prebiotics used to date.

Customization Is Key

With the rise in demand for condition-specific supplements, we reject the notion of a one-size-fits-all product formulation. Deerland’s research and development (R&D) team invests significant effort in developing technologies that will be compatible and complementary to our enzyme-based supplements. Specific expertise is needed in order to formulate a blend that utilizes ingredients and enzymes that are complementary, while taking care to avoid ingredients that may detract from the efficacy of the enzymes.

Research over the past two decades has revealed gut health is critical to overall wellness and immunity, and that an unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of health challenges. Many researchers believe supporting digestive health and restoring the integrity of the gut barrier will be one of the most important goals of health professionals in the 21st century. Deerland Enzymes and Deerland Probiotics will contribute to this goal by continually developing the most innovative supplement products on the market for supporting digestive health. These will include custom formulations as well as our ever-expanding product line.

Tod Burgess Tod Burgess

Tod Burgess is the vice president of sales at Deerland Enzymes and Deerland Probiotics in Kennesaw, Georgia, leading a team of business development managers located across the United States. He is a 1994 graduate of Michigan State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology. Burgess began his career in sales, and later joined Deerland Enzymes in 1999. Since that time, he has been instrumental in leading the company into the supplement industry as one of the premier formulators and manufacturers of enzyme and probiotic supplements.

Connect to Deerland Enzymes Inc., booth #I39.