The Health Benefits of Hemicellulase

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on

The hemicellulase enzyme breaks down hemicellulose, which is a type of cellulose and a key component of the cell wall in all plants. Different forms of plant hemicellulose include glucans, galactans, xylans, mannans and pentosans. Common fiber-rich breakfast cereals, for example, have a large amount of hemicelluloses (2 to 12%). Hemicellulase is needed to break down these fiber-rich components, and because it is not produced naturally in the human body, we rely on microorganisms that live in the human digestive tract to produce it for us.

The hemicellulase enzyme has the ability to take non-cellulose polysaccharides (long chains of sugars) we eat and convert them into usable constituents. Hemicellulase, which is crucial for the breaking down of fruits, vegetables, and many grains is required to break down the “hard” hemicellulose carbohydrates, which are known to slow digestion and the absorption of various nutrients. If we eat large amounts of plant material but do not have enough hemicellulase, we get a very limited prebiotic intake. These prebiotics are composed of smaller indigestible saccharide units that serve as fuel for various types of probiotics (good bacteria) resident in the digestive tract.

How Does Hemicellulase Work?

Hemicellulase possesses the distinct ability to boost this prebiotic activity. Specifically, common hemicellulose carbohydrates found in the food we eat every day, (hydrocolloid gums, galactomannoglucans, pentosans, betaglucans) are actually added to things like ice cream and dairy products. For this reason, it is important to provide your body with a prebiotic boost by taking a supplement containing hemicellulase.

Hemicellulase is a fairly complex enzyme, and there are different permutations of hemicellulase. Different types of this enzyme have been used for different purposes in food technologies, particularly for its ability to enhance the quality of dough, as well as produce fruit juices and alcoholic beverages. In fact, it is a commonly-added enzyme in the production of wines, as the enzyme helps strip away the unwanted compounds from the skins of the grapes that might change the taste of the wine. Although plants make hemicellulases for growth and development, most of the commercial interest is in the enzymes produced by microorganisms.

The Health Benefits of Hemicellulase

1. May Reduce Candida

Some research suggests that an increase in this enzyme can help prevent and reduce yeast infestations such as Candida. This is perhaps related to the fact that the cell wall of candida is composed of hemicellulose. Again, as hemicellulase digests hemicellulose, it may help in reducing Candida.

2. Better Digestive Capacity with Aging

Taking digestive enzymes such as hemicellulase can counteract the net loss of enzymes that occurs with aging, whether due to a loss in pancreatic production of enzymes or a change in beneficial flora in the gut. Research supports this. In Japan, scientists have confirmed that intestinal enzyme output showed a gradual decrease with age. Individuals 65 years and older were tested, and women, in particular, were found to have the sharpest declines in enzyme health. [1]

3. Improves Overall Health

Animal studies suggest that supplementing with hemicellulase in feedings helps not only increase nutrient digestibility but also betters performance and boosts food conversion ratio. [2] One 2005 study published in the Animal Science Journal found that hemicellulase could boost overall health. Hemicellulase enzyme supplements were given to chickens, and their subsequent nutrient utilization, performance, and digestion capacities were analyzed. It was found that the animals given enzymes grew faster, had decreased abdominal fat and energy content of the diet was improved by the mixed enzyme. Ash-retention (related to the processing of free radicals and the alkalinity in the body) was increased by adding hemicellulase to the diet. This offers proof that hemicellulase has a synergistic effect on the performance and health in animals. More research on humans is needed within the scientific realm.

How to Read the Units of Measurement for Hemicellulase

This enzyme is measured in HCU (Hemicellulase Unit). The FCC has determined that one Hemicellulase Unit (HCU) can be defined as activity that will produce a relative fluidity change of 1 over 5 min in a locust bean gum substrate at 40oC and pH 4.5. The FCC notation stands for Foods Chemical Codex, and is a division of USP (United States Pharmacopeia). It sets standards for ingredients. In the case of enzymes, FCC is a standard assay used to accurately determine the activity of enzymes. The current compendium is FCC VI.

Where Can I Find The Best Source of Hemicellulase?

VeganZyme® contains a 100% vegan form of hemicellulase produced by the natural fermentation process of Trichoderma reesei. It comes from all vegetarian, non-GMO sources, is kosher certified, gluten free, made in the USA, contains no animal product and is completely suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

VeganZyme is the most advanced full-spectrum systemic and digestive enzyme formula in the world and is free from fillers and toxic compounds. This formula contains digestive enzymes, which help digest fats (lipids), sugars, proteins, carbohydrates, gluten, fruits and vegetables, cereals, legumes, bran, nuts and seeds, soy, dairy, and all other food sources.

VeganZyme may also be used as a systemic enzyme blend to break down excess mucus, fibrin, various toxins, allergens, as well as excess clotting factors throughout your body.

References (3)
  1. Ishibashi T, Matsumoto S, Harada H, Ochi K, Tanaka J, Seno T, Oka H, Miyake H, Kimura I. [Aging and exocrine pancreatic function evaluated by the recently standardized secretin test]. Nihon Ronen Igakkai Zasshi. 1991 Sep;28(5):599-605. Japanese.
  2. Monica Parvu. Research on the action of bacterial hemicellulase on the barley-based diets used in poultry feeding (PDF). Institute of Biology and Animal Nutrition. 1996 April.
  3. Tetsuo Kunieda. Identification of genes responsible for hereditary diseases in Japanese beef cattle. Animal Science Journal. 2005 November 19. vol.76 issue 6, pages 525-610 DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-0929.2005.00300.x.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Clarence

    You say that “hemicellulose, which is a type of cellulase”, I think you mean that it’s a type of CELLULOSE. And then you say that the FCC defines enzyme activity, well FCC is the Federal Communications Commission, so I doubt they do that. With these kind of major oversights and blunders, I wonder about the reliability of all the other information.

  • DagobahRider

    The only question of reliability has to do with your eyesight. Did you happen to see where it says, “The FCC notation stands for Foods Chemical Codex, and is a division of USP (United States Pharmacopeia)”?

  • Ven

    Can you please explain how the hemicellulase doesn’t also break down the long-chain sugars in your meals into simple sugars which will spike your blood sugar and just end up feeding the candida? Also, since not all of the candida will be killed, the dead candida (now converted into simple sugars) will invariably end up becoming a food source for the surviving candida, how is this a benefit? Wouldn’t a healthy balance of gut flora provide the same digestive functions as well as keep candida in check?

  • Jan

    It might be but getting rid of candida can be tricky and not all solutions are one size fits all. I always looked at enzymes as a potential tool in the toolbox but not the absolute and only solution. You’re right, and it was my experience, that balanced gut flora was very helpful.

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