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Get a flat belly
WHAT TO BUY Houston Enzymes HN-Zyme Prime ($16; houstonenzymes. com). These capsules contain nine different enzymes that break down complex carbs, triglyceride fats, starches, and proteins, blended together in a high concentration formula. The product is especially good at easing the gas and bloating that can come from slow digestion of fatty food and dairy products.
WHY IT WORKS Irregular digestion can cause bloating, gas and uncomfortable (and unsightly) fullness. Digestive enzyme supplements help by jump-starting the digestive process, helping your body more efficiently break down nutrients. Enzyme biochemist Devin Houston, Ph.D., recommends starting with one capsule with a meal, but says you may want to experiment with dosage. “With a big meal, like Thanksgiving dinner, you may want to take a couple of capsules before the meal and a couple after.”
CAVEAT Since diets, metabolisms and other factors can make your digestion slower or faster than other people’s, it’s a good idea to experiment until you find the right dosage for you. Enzymes are considered safe in any dosage—your body will get rid of whatever it doesn’t use—and they aren’t thought to interfere with other medications or supplements. Eating a high-protein or high-carb diet? You may want to take a supplement that specifically targets protein or carbohydrate digestion.
Eat what you love
WHAT TO BUY Shaklee EZ-Gest ($22.50; shaklee.com), a full-spectrum digestive enzymes formula that contains lactase, alpha galactosidase, protease, amylase, and lipase. Each enzyme helps break down a specific type of food.
WHY IT WORKS Sometimes there’s a simple evolutionary reason for the discomfort you feel after you eat that piece of pizza or ice cream cone. “We’re programmed to be breastfed and have lots of milk, so one enzyme in particular, lactase, is there to break down the milk sugar,” explains Houston. “That particular enzyme starts to fade out at around age 8, so people often start having a difficult time digesting dairy foods.” Other foods, like tomato-based sauces, can cause discomfort in people dealing with acid reflux or heartburn. Often an enzyme supplement can help jump-start a sluggish digestive system and ease the symptoms of lactose intolerance, indigestion or acid reflux. You may not be able to go back to those college habits of gobbling up half a pizza in one sitting, but with some help, you just might be able to enjoy a slice once again!
CAVEAT For someone like 47-year-old Abby Beale of Wallingford, Conn., who suffered from severe heartburn and reflux before she discovered enzyme supplements, moderation is still important. “I know that if I want a slice of pizza, I can take a capsule and I’ll be OK,” she says. “But I wouldn’t drink a glass of red wine with a piece of pizza—that would just be too much.”