This project was prepared as part of a BioQUEST faculty development workshop entitled PEER Workshop: Using Bioinformatics in Biological Problem Solving at SCALE-IT, NIMBIOS in August 2009. The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium is committed to the reform of undergraduate biology instruction through an emphasis on engaging students in realistic scientific practices. This approach is sometimes characterized as an inquiry driven approach and is captured in BioQUEST's three P's (problem-posing, problem-solving, and peer-persuasion). As part of this workshop groups of faculty were encouraged to initiate innovative curricular projects. We are sharing these works in progress in the hope that they will stimulate further exploration, collaboration and development. Please see the following links for additional information:

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Assessment of the Potential Efficacy of Digestol in Enzyme Therapy
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Possible Audiences:

Health professionals, general public, overweight individuals, health conscious audience.  


Brief Overview:

Enzyme replacement therapy has been suggested as a viable dietary supplement for weight loss. Even though digestive enzymes have been used for several years to treat various digestive disorders which are caused by enzyme deficiency, we do not beleive it would be beneficial to people who are not deficient in digestive enzymes. There is no study that supports enzyme use as a weight loss supplement. The manufacturer of Digestol claims it can be a supplemental aid in weight loss. Digestol is comprised of a variety of enzymes such as: amylase, papain, bromelain, lipase and lactase. These enzymes are capable of breaking down many of the ingested complex carbohydrates. The mouth and stomach break apart large carbohydrate chains into chyme which is then released into the small intestine. Carbohydrate metabolism largely occurs within the duodenum by pancreatic enzymes. The carbs are processed into monosaccharides (mainly glucose) which are shuttled through the lacteals into the blood stream. Once in the blood, the glucose is taken up by cells and eventually changed into ATP. Any excess energy stores are converted into fat by the body for later use. Therefore, one could conclude that inhibiting digestive enzymes would be advantageous for weight loss. If there are less carbohydrate calories being processed and absorbed by the enzymes, then less excess energy stores can be taken-up to be stored as fat. The referenced study researches the weight loss potential of “Phase 2,” a white bean supplement that inhibits the digestive enzyme, alpha-amylase. Over a course of an eight week study, obese study participants used Phase 2 and had a reduction in triglyceride levels by a factor of three fold compared to participants ingesting placebos (26.3 mg/dL versus 8.2 mg/dL). Therefore, we can conclude that inhibiting digestive carbohydrate enzymes would be advantageous to weight loss, whereas adding subsequent enzymes would only increase absorption and subsequent triglyceride levels.  


Resources and References:

Udani, J, Hardy, M, Madsen DC. Blocking carbohydrate absorption and weight loss: a clinical trial using Phase 2 brand proprietary fractionated white extract. Alternative Therapies. 2004; 9(1): 63-69