Enzymes, Maltodextrin, and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet
last updated 8.25.05
This was posted in reply to a discussion in another SCD group and it might be helpful here because there was a recent discussion.
The issue with maltodextrin came up on pecanbread several months ago. Because many people had seen great success with certain digestive enzymes, they were quite reluctant to give that up. So there was interest in finding SCD-appropriate ones (i.e. legal ones).
A couple of the supplement companies just happened to have enzyme products that seemed very good for SCD: Thropps Nutrition makes Ultra-zyme Plus and Enzymedica makes Digest Gold. I talked to Mr. Thropp on his product extensively so he was aware of the SCD point of view
and needs. Later he found out that the place he got enzymes from uses maltodextrin as part of the manufacturing process of deriving and stabilizing enzymes. That is, maltodextrin is not an 'additive' in the usual sense, it is picked up as part of the process in deriving the enzymes. So a company does not have to put it on the label because they did not 'add' it too the enzyme product. What we are
talking about is some maltodextrin molecules being part of the enzyme matrix (in some way). No one is exactly sure (yet) how much maltodextrin would be in the final product, although it would be a
I think Mr. Thropp is to be highly commended for this because it just hadn't come up before and people didn't know to look for it (and likely they didn't really care). It was an issue only for SCD. I
talked to Mr. Thropp about this. He said he didn't know previously because it was not on his quality or analysis statement he received. It was only in passing in conversation that maltodextrin was mentioned. Mr. Thropp remembered it was a concern for SCD so he looked into it more and then talked with me. I called a number of other enzyme companies and those that actually produced the raw enzymes. All the enzyme distributors confirmed that their enzymes are derived with this process.
So the deal is that microbially-derived enzymes involve maltodextrin in the process, but the individual supplement companies may not know it is there (it is not always on the analysis statement they receive, which is legally allowed). If you call a company and ask if there is maltodextrin in it, they may truly believe there is not. Or they may want to exercise their legal right to claim there is not any in their products.
However, all microbially derived enzymes are derived in the same way from the same sources. There are only about 3 different distributors of raw enzymes in the US and so everyone gets the raw enzymes from the same root sources. The distributors then dilute the enzymes, and mix and match enzymes, and do other creative things with their formulations to come up with individual products. The final products maybe vastly different, but the source enzymes are derived the same.
This is similar to taking the same basic amino acids and creating all sorts of interesting and unique proteins, peptides, tissues, and organs with them.
Now, ALL microbially derived enzymes are done this same way. Other enzyme choices are:
1. animal-derived enzymes (pancreatic ones), and
2. fruit plant derived ones
--- bromelain from pineapple
--- papain from papaya, and
--- actinidin from kiwi
--- other naturally occurring enzymes in raw foods not identified
Someone mentioned Pure Ecapsulations enzymes and other products. These are done the same way (with the maltodextrin in the process). So if you are doing well with the Pure Encapsulations enzymes, then you are doing well with whatever amount of maltodextrin might be present (and we don't know how much or how little that is). Same with all brands of microbially derived enzymes.
So why even consider taking microbial enzymes? Well, you might decide you don't want to. Your choice. But microbial ones are found to be much more effective, much more stable, and much more versatile than other types of enzymes. So more and more places are going to those.
Just about everyone on any diet (SCD, Feingold, GFCF, yeast-control, BED, Low-Carb, Standard American No-Diet, etc) does better when digestive enzymes are added. This shouldn't be surprising because just about every person does better with added enzymes. Why? Because we eat a lot of cooked food which kills any natural enzymes, and we age.
It will come down to each person deciding whether taking the enzymes for all the benefits is worth it. If you are doing SCD, it is the same thing. Some people see such outstanding improvements by adding a microbial-based digestive enzyme product to their SCD diet!!! Others don't want to go that route. You can always do a trial of enzymes and see if it is helpful. If it isn't, stop and do something else. Elaine G has agreed with this approach.
The benefits which digestive enzyme supplements bring usually so vastly outweigh any concerns with maltodextrin that people, even on SCD, won't consider giving them up. So you have to decide if you want to give up all that wealth of benefits for any perceived negatives. Personally, I am for actively resolving a problem if at all possible. But that is just my nature and personal approach to things.
There is benefit of taking enzymes to allow foods to be added to the diet. Thus you would get the nutrition and energy in these added foods. If you take any other supplements or medications, digestive enzymes tend to make these more absorbed and metabolized by the body as well.
Many of the enzymes products contain enzymes to digest any possible maltodextrin. So they can 'self-digest'. I find it remarkable that cellulose is allowed in supplements on SCD when it is far, far less digestible than maltodextrin. Cellulose is, afterall....wood! Humans cannot digest cellulose at all on their own, but bacteria and yeast can. So that is straight gut bug food. But human enzymes can digest maltodextrin so at least there is more chance that the adverse gut bugs would not get them. The microbially-derived enzyme cellulase can digest cellulose if the product contains it. There are several microbially derived enzymes that can breakdown maltodextrin.
I see SCD as having two parts, with the special yogurt being an important and key factor in healing. The yogurt is the 'pro-active' healing part which supplies probiotics, enzymes, minerals in a whole-
food form, and other beneficial elements. Digestive enzymes are needed from some source to breakdown anything you eat. In individual reaseach, digestive enzyme supplements are shown to facilitate healing, strengthen the immune system, help fight pathogens, help with detox, and other desirable functions.