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What is Diastase?

By Christine Hudson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Diastase was the very first enzyme discovered. It was identified by Jean-Francois Persoz and Anselme Payen, workers in the French sugar factory where the enzyme was extracted from a malt solution in 1833. This enzyme helps break down carbohydrates and turn them into sugar, which makes them easier to digest.

In modern times, this enzyme can be extracted from barley seed after the ingredients of beer are all mashed up together and heated. It causes starch from the seed to form into a soluble sugar, which allows the pod to pull apart from the seed. The enzyme can also be found and extracted from sources such as milk, saliva and other plants. As a natural enzyme, it can be extracted rather easily from many natural sources.

Amylase and glucoamylase are the enzymes found in human saliva that help break down carbohydrates into sugar so they can be digested. While these enzymes are present in saliva, some people may not produce enough to regulate the breakdown of foods correctly. Diastase helps this process, as it is a natural form of amylase. Typically, the enzyme extracted from malt is taken as a supplement for easier digestion of starchy foods such as potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and grains. Some tests indicate that those who may benefit from it include individuals with digestive disorders, those looking for help losing weight, and people in the early stages of diabetes, but these statements have not been endorsed or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Another use that has been found for diastase is as a treatment for those who have acid reflux issues. Acid reflux is caused by certain foods people eat that are not being digested properly — it causes symptoms of upset stomach, burning in the throat or chest, and abdominal pain. Honey and milk contain this enzyme naturally, and a warm mixture of the two has been said to help treat minor acid reflux symptoms. People who take the supplements regularly may also be able to correct an ongoing problem if medication is not an option.

Those who are taking diastase supplements should always follow the instructions on the packaging. While this enzyme may help in the breakdown and digestion or starches, it may not be enough to correct some medical issues. Those who continue to experience problems with digestion or diabetic symptoms may wish to see a medical professional for further assistance.

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Discussion Comments

By anon996599 — On Sep 16, 2016

It's amazing for students that are in biology.

By burcidi — On Jun 10, 2012

@turkay1-- Yes, I've tried several different kinds. They all helped with my digestion after several weeks of use. However, all but the last one caused side effects that made me quit taking them.

It definitely takes several weeks for the supplements to start taking effect. So don't expect a result immediately. The issue I had with the first two diastase supplements I took was that it was giving me flatulence and after several weeks, it seemed to increase my acidity instead of reducing it.

I should note that all of these supplements had additional enzymes and ingredients in them aside from diastase like papain, protease and amylase. So I'm not sure which enzyme was giving me the side effects.

The diastase supplement I'm taking now also has a few other enzymes in it but it's been working great. It's an all natural one made from organic food sources. My digestion has definitely improved with this one.

By candyquilt — On Jun 09, 2012

I've been hearing a lot about digestive enzymes lately, especially diastase. I'm planning on purchasing either a multi-enzyme supplement which includes diastase or just a diastase supplement and taking that regularly.

I've always suffered from stomach ailments and have had difficulty with digestion. Stomach acid and heartburn is a regular occurrence with me. I don't have much issues with vegetables, but whenever I eat carbohydrates and proteins, I have digestion problems.

After a meal with carbohydrates, I feel heavy, sluggish, I get acidity and sometimes stomach cramps. I don't have allergies or an intolerance though. I've already been tested for those, so I think it's just a digestion problem.

Has anyone taken diastase enzyme supplements? Did it help? How long did it take until you saw results?

By discographer — On Jun 09, 2012
Diastase supplements are not something that can treat or prevent diabetes --- I know the article mentioned that that particular usage hasn't been endorsed by the FDA, but I think it's important to reiterate. Diabetes is not a result of a difficulty in breaking down carbohydrates. It results from either the lack of insulin in the body (type one diabetes) or the inability of insulin to recognize blood sugar, glucose (type two diabetes).

To treat diabetes, the patient has to be either given insulin or medications that allow insulin to recognize blood sugar. I'm not sure if taking digestive enzymes like diastase really help with digestion issues or not. But as a diabetic, I wouldn't recommend other diabetics to try to treat their condition with diastase supplements alone.

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