Xylanase (pronounced zy-lan-ase) is a naturally-occurring enzyme that can have beneficial impacts on human health and digestion. Fungi and bacteria produce xylanase, and it's produced by insects, crustaceans like snails, and even seeds. Mammals, including humans, do not produce xylanase, but some of our gut bacteria do. Scientifically speaking, it is an enzyme that breaks down xylan, a type of hemicellulose, by cleaving the molecule’s beta 1,4 backbone into a simple sugar called xylose. Xylan is the second most common polysaccharide in nature and is a component of plant cell walls.
What Does Xylanase Do?
Xylanase breaks the bonds that hold xylan fibers together. Humans are not able to produce this particular digestive enzyme despite the fact that all of us eat some plant-based foods that contain this type of fiber, whether wheat bread, cereal grains, nuts, or fresh vegetables.
Xylanases are useful for microbes and smaller organisms since it allows them to extract nutrients from plant matter with high fiber content. These same properties also make xylanase commercially important because it can break down plant fiber for a variety of uses from dough conditioning to juice clarifying to paper processing. In the human digestive tract, xylanase can break down xylans you eat, liberating more nutrients from vegetables with high fiber content and preventing some of the gas or digestive discomfort that is often associated with fibrous veggies, grains, and legumes.
Researchers have discovered several types of naturally-present bacteria in the human intestine which produce xylanase. However, they concluded that these bacteria use what they produce to break down fiber and use it as a source of energy, secreting little of the enzyme into our intestines. Studies have found that we depend on our gut microbes – and the enzymes they produce – to extract energy from the dietary carbohydrates (particularly fiber) we eat. Studies show we digest about 72% of the dietary xylan that we ingest.[4, 5]
Given that we cannot produce it and that our own "good bacteria" share little of what they make, taking supplemental xylanase along with a blend of other carbohydrate-digesting enzymes can help you digest fibrous foods more completely. This helps you avoid indigestion and discomfort.
Health Benefits of Xylanase
- Better digestion of plant-based foods which may help increase the availability of nutrients.
- Potentially increase xylan-based prebiotics to support healthy intestinal bacteria.
- Help reduce gas or intestinal discomfort from eating some difficult-to-digest plant foods such as beans, cereals, and fibrous vegetables.
- Degrade biofilms associated with various microorganisms. Many microbes produce a protective film that protects them from destruction, including some that can cause food poisoning and more serious infections.
How to Read the Units of Measurement for Xylanase
Xylanase activity is measured as Xylanase Units (XU). The XUs tell you the activity level of the enzyme. These units are set by the United States Pharmacopeia in accordance with the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) – internationally recognized standards for the purity and standardization of food ingredients and supplements. FCC uses a standard assay, or test, to accurately determine the activity of enzymes.
Where Can I Find the Best Source of Xylanase?
Xylanase can be derived from a few different sources; however, the xylanase in VeganZyme® is derived from the fungal organism Trichoderma reesei. It is appropriate for vegetarians and vegans just like all of the other enzymes in this blend. It comes from all vegetarian, non-GMO sources, is kosher certified, gluten-free, and contains no animal products.
VeganZyme is the most advanced full-spectrum systemic and digestive enzyme formula in the world and is free of 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 also provides a systemic enzyme blend to break down excess mucus, fibrin, various toxins, allergens, as well as excess clotting factors throughout your body.
- Despres J, et al. "Xylan degradation by the human gut Bacteroides xylanisolvens XB1A(T) involves two distinct gene clusters that are linked at the transcriptional level." BMC Genomics. 2016 May 4;17:326.
- Chakdar H, et al. "Bacterial xylanases: biology to biotechnology." 3 Biotech. 2016; 6(2),150.
- Beg Q, et al. "Microbial xylanases and their industrial applications: a review." Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2001; 56(3-4),326-338.
- Zhang M, et al. "Xylan utilization in human gut commensal bacteria is orchestrated by unique modular organization of polysaccharide-degrading enzymes." Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2014;111(35),E3708-E3717.
- Joshi S, Agte V. "Digestibility of dietary fiber components in vegetarian men." Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 1995;48(1),39-44.
- Aachary AA, Prapulla SG. "Xylooligosaccharides (XOS) as an emerging prebiotic: microbial synthesis, utilization, structural characterization, bioactive properties, and applications (PDF)." Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2011;10,2-16.
- Santos SM. "Modification of Bacterial Cellulose Biofilms with Xylan Polyelectrolytes." Bioengineering (Basel). 2017;4(4),93.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.