What Is FODZYME?
If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and have been told to follow the low FODMAP diet you may feel a bit challenged by all of the information and guidelines you have to follow.
Many of us have had at least a day (or two or three) where we find ourselves wishing there was a magic wand to make it easier – and to help us enjoy our foods symptom-free. FODZYME® might just be an answer for you.
FODZYME®, a blend of digestive enzymes, has been lab tested and certified low FODMAP by Monash University, which means that the ingredients are low FODMAP. But does it work? Can it help us allay digestive distress?
FODZYME® is made by Kiwi Biosciences, “a human-centered biotech company developing elegant solutions for extraordinary gut relief”. We certainly wanted to learn more, so we sat down with Harvard-educated co-founders Anjie Liu and David Hachuel, as well as Monash University Low FODMAP trained dietitian Niki Strealy, to learn more about FODZYME® and Kiwi Bio in general.
Meet The Team & Learn More Here
Dédé Wilson: I am so excited we are doing this interview. I, personally, and many members of our community, have been buzzing about FODZYME® and want to learn more. Let’s dive in. Tell us about how the product was developed in the first place, how you started your company, and about your company vision.
Anjie Liu: Thanks so much for the opportunity to chat today! I’m delighted to share what we’ve done with FODZYME® so far and where we are going with our mission and vision. FODZYME® was initially something I started developing for myself to be able to eat the high-FODMAP foods that have been causing me so much distress – and yet I wanted to eat so badly. I was diagnosed with IBS about seven years ago after developing chronic abdominal pain.
Through the low FODMAP diet, I learned how to keep those symptoms at bay. But it was also a bittersweet victory over my gut issues: I found out that my favorite foods and flavors like garlic, onion, and mushrooms were persistently giving me trouble and I was always faced with temptation when out with friends. I basically had to constantly choose between saying no to delicious (and healthy!) foods or suffering the consequences later.
I wanted to find a way to eat those foods again, without the pain, and then it occurred to me that enzymes could provide a direct approach to reducing the FODMAP content in food. And that’s how FODZYME® was born! The next step was to bring together a team of microbiologists, enzymologists, and gastrointestinal and nutrition experts to validate the science and build a roadmap for all the different enzymes we would need.
And I’m very fortunate to have met David so early on. He has an incredible background in public health and computer science, and has been working in the IBS/gut disorder space for the past several years. We joined forces to build an elegant solution to the FODMAP problem and bring it to an underserved community. Last year, we launched our first patent-pending formulation, which addresses some of the most common FODMAPs.
In the long-term, we have a vision of a world where all of us can confidently enjoy our favorite foods and partake painlessly in the meals that bond us.
This is such a helpful and concise explanation – and I want to reiterate the point that the FODZYME® product that we are discussing is indeed an enzyme blend – not a singular enzyme with a singular focus, correct?
Anjie Liu: That’s right. The current formula is a highly-specific enzyme blend designed precisely for the FODMAPs fructan, galacto-oligosaccharides, and lactose. Therefore, the formula only consists of three enzymes: fructan hydrolase, alpha-galactosidase, and lactase, respectively.
Can you be specific and explain what FODMAPs FODZYME® is best for?
Anjie Liu: Yes, our current formulation addresses lactose (found typically in dairy products), galacto-oligosaccharides, or GOS (found in beans, legumes, and nuts), and most excitingly… fructan (found across so many delicious fruits, veggies, and grains like garlic, onion, wheat, banana, beet, just to name a few).
Well, since fructans statistically trigger more people than other FODMAPs, this is great news!
What Product Is Coming Next?
On your site, you mention that you are working on a polyol-targeting enzyme. Please tell us more about that product – and when might it become available?
Anjie Liu: Our research and development team is hard at work developing a solution for polyols. Polyols like mannitol and sorbitol are found across some super tasty and highly nutritious foods like avocado, mushrooms, cauliflower, and more! I personally am sensitive to them, especially mushrooms, which I miss the most (they turn me into a human blimp!).
What we’re focusing on is developing novel enzymes that will turn sorbitol and mannitol into sugars that are readily absorbed in the gut and therefore won’t cause digestive upset. We’ve identified a very promising candidate to scale up and hope to release the solution in the next two years. We know a lot of people are looking forward to this and though it might seem like a long time, it’s really not trivial to develop these particular enzymes!
Of course! Two years will fly by and I know you are right; many folks will want to get their hands on that product, too.
I was very interested to learn about any clinical trials and the validation that your company is conducting. Please describe what testing has been done and how this helps the consumer know that FODZYME® will work.
David Hachuel: To date, we’ve conducted in-house trials, where we fed 30-40g of fructan to ourselves and brave friends/family members. We conducted these in the most statistically-rigorous way and obtained enough data to convince ourselves that FODZYME® indeed works when delivered correctly.
We then performed a series of in-vitro experiments to validate the activity of our fructan hydrolase enzyme and discovered that, when FODZYME® was administered, fructan was rapidly broken into simple fructose and glucose with ~90% of the fructan degraded within 30 minutes.
The experiments also showed that 70% of fructose was absorbed during a simulated small intestinal transit, thus reducing gas. We also found that the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) was reduced but not depleted. This means that FODZYME®’s enzymatic approach may be more favorable to overall colonic health than avoiding FODMAPs altogether. This work was selected to be presented at Digestive Disease Week 2022, one of the most important venues for GI research.
Can you speak to the fructose aspect a bit more? If one is sensitive to fructose, would this be a negative?
Anjie Liu: Good question!
It is important to note first that fructose is very different from the other FODMAP groups in that it is not the mere presence of fructose that may cause issues, but significant fructose content in excess of glucose in the meal. This is because glucose aids in the absorption of fructose for most people.
We know from anecdotal/community reports as well as clinical findings that fructose tolerance thresholds tend to be much higher than fructan tolerance thresholds. Hence, given the relatively small amount of fructan in most common foods, and the relative abundance of glucose in the common types of dishes that FODZYME® would be used on, in most instances the small amount of excess fructose produced will not introduce a problem. That being said, just like the low FODMAP diet is a bit of a balancing act and a question of degree, if you are extremely sensitive to fructose (or suffer from hereditary fructose intolerance), FODZYME® might not be the right fit.
We would recommend speaking with your clinician to discuss the introduction of this range of sugar content and can provide you with a clinical brief (linked below) to share with them.
What do you say to people who want to see more rigorous clinical trials at this point?
Looking forward, we are working on designing protocols for randomized controlled trials in (IBS) patient populations. In the meantime, we certainly encourage folks to try FODZYME® as it’s a low-risk intervention with a high-reward potential.
Besides that, we have testimonials from thousands of customers who previously had to avoid garlic, onion, wheat, and other fructan-containing foods and now they don’t have to. All quantitative results for both in-house trials and in-vitro work can be found in our clinical brief.
On the website, you talk a lot about how FODZYME® has been shown to relieve flatulence as well as diarrhea. How about folks like me where extreme bloat and gut pain are our main issues? And how about folks who mostly deal with constipation?
David Hachuel: To be clear, these preliminary studies were conducted on healthy volunteers consuming outrageous amounts of FODMAPs and intended to be a proof-of-concept demonstration that FODZYME® can and does indeed work inside the human body by significantly reducing the symptoms that they report.
As we know, different people respond to FODMAPs differently. Even when healthy folks with no history of gut disorders are fed large amounts of FODMAPs, digestive symptoms can arise. In this case, the volunteers did not report bloat or abdominal pain, only flatulence, and diarrhea. But the magnitudes of those symptoms were considerably or totally lessened when they took FODZYME®. This suggests that FODZYME® can indeed significantly reduce the FODMAP content of a meal after it’s been consumed, which also corroborates what we found in our in vitro experiments in the simulated human gut.
Based on this understanding of FODZYME®’s mechanism of action, FODZYME® has the potential to mitigate whatever the FODMAPs trigger (be it constipation, abdominal pain, flatulence, etc.), simply by reducing FODMAP content in the gut right after a meal. Anecdotally speaking, we have plenty of customers who report suffering from FODMAP-induced constipation, pain, and/or bloating and saw remarkable success with FODZYME®!
Said another way, if the FODMAPs fructan, GOS, and/or lactose are your issue, regardless of what symptoms they trigger downstream, FODZYME® may be worth a try!
Dietitians Love FODZYME®
Niki, we would love to hear about how you are using FODZYME® with clients – and have you used it yourself?
Niki Strealy: I haven’t tried FODZYME® myself, because oligosaccharides and lactose aren’t the triggers for me. (Polyols are a biggie for me personally, and I can’t wait for the next formulation of FODZYME® to be available!)
As a dietitian, I teach my patients how to successfully follow the initial 2-6 week Elimination Phase of the low FODMAP diet. Then, during the second Challenge Phase, we reintroduce FODMAPs one group at a time, to determine personal triggers. After these challenges, it is common for people to have reactions to fructans and/or galactans, which are oligosaccharides, or the “O” in FODMAP.
At this point the patient is at the third phase of the diet. One option is to limit fructans (especially garlic and onion) or galactans (namely, legumes and nuts). But these foods are not only delicious, they are also good food for the gut microbes that live in the intestine. In addition, trying to avoid garlic and onion when traveling and eating out is tough! I recommend FODZYME® to my patients so they can expand their diet further, which is our ultimate goal.
This video demonstrates the uses of FODZYME®
Tell us about the ideal FODZYME® user, and please talk a bit about how to best use the product.
David Hachuel: As you probably know, humans cannot digest FODMAPs, so anyone, regardless of whether or not they have IBS or other gut disorders, could benefit from FODZYME®. We have folks, including myself, who know they are sensitive to garlic, onion, and other high FODMAP foods that use FODZYME® successfully.
That said, we find that those who benefit the most from FODZYME® are individuals who have previously been on a low FODMAP diet successfully reducing symptoms. These are the folks who clearly respond well to FODMAP restriction, and are looking for a better, more sustainable, long-term alternative to food avoidance.
Can you expand the answer a bit and explain actually how to use FODZYME®? For instance, I see on your website that you specifically state not to mix with water. So, how is it best used?
The best way to use FODZYME® is by adding it directly to the problem foods and mix it in, if possible. If it is more solid food, like a burrito, then adding a full dose on the first bite works just as well.
What we don’t recommend is to mix it with water and drink it – this just creates an unnecessary barrier between the enzymes and the FODMAPs themselves. If we’re talking about a high FODMAP beverage, like a soup, a smoothie, or milk – then it’s absolutely fine to mix the powder in the drink.
The goal here is to let the enzymes embed within the FODMAP food before it gets to your stomach, which will maximize their effect.
Does it have a taste?
FODZYME® is virtually tasteless. On its own, it has a hint of a sweet taste to it, but when mixed in your meals, it’s rarely noticeable.
Niki, what have been your clients’ responses?
Niki Strealy: I started recommending FODZYME® last fall. So many of my patients want desperately to eat out, and garlic and onion are in most restaurant offerings. My patients love using it when dining out, traveling, or eating at family gatherings. I have specifically heard patients use words like “amazing”, “magical”, “freeing”, and “life-changing” when referring to how using FODZYME® has allowed them to eat more of their favorite foods again.
How do you tell if it is working? Is it best to try with a food that you know your reactions with?
Anjie Liu: Naturally, it’s best to know your enemy before trying to defeat it. If you’ve already gone through the three phases of the low FODMAP diet and have identified your triggers, it will be easier to know when and what foods to add FODZYME® to.
If you already know you have trouble with fructan, GOS, and/or lactose, then it makes sense to reintroduce some of the foods in those groups with the help of FODZYME®.
Niki Strealy: I had one patient use FODZYME® for the first time with her favorite enchilada recipe (garlic, onions, and lactose!). She braced herself for the gas, bloating, and pain she had previously experienced from this food. She was excited to report that she not only did not have ANY digestive symptoms that day – and she also ate the leftovers the following day (with another helping of FODZYME®). Once again, she tolerated the enchiladas with no issues.
So, your recommendation is to use FODZYME® during the final and third phase of the diet – not before during Elimination and Challenge Phases, correct?
The ideal scenario is to know your triggers before you introduce FODZYME®. It will help to determine the right dosage, which can be quite individual. Typically, FODZYME® users go through the 3 phases of the low FODMAP diet first, as recommended by dietitians. This helps to best understand their sensitivities and what foods to use FODZYME® on.
In some cases, clinicians recommend against going on the low FODMAP diet when patients are at a higher risk of disordered eating or malnutrition, which could be made worse by restricting high FODMAP foods. For folks in this camp, we recommend discussing with your clinician whether FODZYME® could be a good fit from the get-go. FODZYME® can help to avoid the unnecessary and, at times, harmful restrictions and can be used over normal meals to help reduce FODMAP content.
Are there times when FODZYME® would not be the answer? Maybe now would be a good time to talk about the Assessment Questionnaire you have on the website.
David Hachuel: Yes, occasionally we get folks who have problems with a subset of high FODMAP foods like garlic, onion, and wheat, but whose issue might not be the FODMAP content.
For instance, they might report immediate reactions to these foods or upper GI problems, or even symptoms that appear to be more allergic in nature, making it unlikely that it is the fermentation of the FODMAPs lower down to blame. In these cases, FODZYME® wouldn’t be the right fit.
This is a great moment to let everyone know that we have a very popular and informative article on Timing of Digestive Symptoms. As you said, an immediate response would not be FODMAP in nature. We encourage everyone to read this article.
Niki Strealy: I would also add, if someone is lactose intolerant, they may only need lactase enzymes. Similarly, for those who do not tolerate excess fructose, glucose isomerase enzymes may be beneficial (this ingredient is not included in FODZYME®).
It is also important to clarify that FODMAPs are carbohydrates and FODZYME® helps to break down these carbohydrates. For people like me who have celiac disease and cannot tolerate the gluten protein, this product would not help them digest gluten.
Oh, Niki, thank you for adding that. This is very helpful info.
David Hachuel: Moreover, FODZYME® doesn’t yet cover polyols, the P in FODMAPs, like sorbitol and mannitol. That said, our R&D team is hard at work developing a polyol-degrading solution!
We recommend all new prospective users to take our assessment on the fodzyme.com website to see if FODZYME® could benefit them.
Join Us To Learn how To Successfully Manage The Low FODMAP Diet Integration Phase
When To Use FODZYME®
Can using FODZYME® frequently deter progress that one might make towards digesting certain FODMAPs on our own? In other words, we know that our GI tract is not static, and sometimes folks find that even if they do not digest something well at one point, that later down the line they can tolerate it. If they are using FODZYME® all the time, can that deter this kind of progression?
David Hachuel: To back up a little, most FODMAPs – specifically fructan, GOS, and polyols – are not known to be digested in the traditional sense by any human, IBS sufferer or not. The current understanding is that these molecules tend to pass through the GI tract unabsorbed and become fermented by the microbiota in the lower bowels. Because they also tend to feed the beneficial bacteria, these particular FODMAPs are considered prebiotics, and hence, long-term adherence to the Elimination Phase of the low FODMAP diet could restrain some of these beneficial gut bacteria from thriving, thereby shifting the microbiome.
Going back to our in-vitro results, what we demonstrated is that FODZYME® reduces, but doesn’t eliminate, healthy fermentation. This is of course promising evidence that FODZYME® is at least a better long-term alternative to avoiding high FODMAP foods.
Many of our community members are familiar with drugstore products like Beano. Can you explain how FODZYME® is different?
Anjie Liu: Absolutely, there are several solutions on the market that people might be already familiar with. In this instance, FODZYME® has two primary advantages: the novel fructan hydrolase within the formula, that addresses fructan (found in garlic, onion, wheat, all the good stuff we mentioned before); and the powder form of FODZYME®. Let me break that down a bit.
The unique enzyme in the formula opens up a much wider range of foods beyond those high in galacto-oligosaccharides (the only FODMAP group Beano addresses). FODZYME® is also Monash Low FODMAP certified, with an elegant formulation of three specific enzymes and a tiny amount of sugar stabilizers.
In addition, we found that sprinkling FODZYME® on food like seasoning is way more effective. It’s critical for enzymes to distribute within the ingested food while your stomach pH range is optimal for enzymatic activity. The longer after the meal – the more threatening your gut environment becomes to enzymes.
FODZYME®’s powder form facilitates maximum enzyme integration in food, allowing the enzymes to swiftly target FODMAP triggers in the meal.
Niki Strealy: Also, many people aren’t aware that Beano contains mannitol, another FODMAP.
Where To Buy FODZYME®
Where can FODZYME® be purchased – and tell us about your subscription offering.
David Hachuel: For those in the United States, the best place to purchase FODZYME® is directly from our site at fodzyme.com. We encourage first-time customers to start with a 10-dose test kit to see if they experience the magic.
For those who are aware they’re sensitive to fructan, lactose, and GOS, there is a flexible subscription plan that’s designed to ensure you never run out of FODZYME®. Saving 20% on every order, the subscription can be customized to a preferred frequency and you’re free to skip or cancel anytime.
In recent months, we have been fortunate to partner with several stockists around the world, too. FODZYME® is available through FodShop in Australia and New Zealand, you can buy it on FODMarket in the UK and find us on FODCORNER to ship to Switzerland, Germany, and Austria.
Cost can be a deterrent for some potential users; perhaps they don’t know you have a money-back guarantee? Please talk a little about your guarantee and the cost in general, as many of our community members have asked.
Anjie Liu: You see, I know firsthand how frustrating it is to have IBS and be targeted nonstop with gut health “solutions” that are basically snake oil. I’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on products that gave me hope but ultimately didn’t do anything for me.
This is precisely why we have a no-questions-asked policy to refund your money within 30 days of purchase. Again, no questions asked. FODZYME® is life-changing for most people, but every gut is different so there are always some exceptions, and that’s okay. We want our customers to know that we personally get it.
As for the price itself, you’re basically adding $1 to a delicious meal on a subscription. With the vigorous research and care that go into the FODZYME® formulation, plus the culinary freedom it provides, we like to think it’s worth it.
How much does a person need to order? Do you suggest using it at every meal? This could affect how the consumer looks at the cost, for sure.
David Hachuel: It all depends on a person’s tolerance levels, and the size of their meals. For a regular meal, a standard dose works just fine for most of our customers. Some of them need a little more; some can see the effect with a quarter of that.
Our subscription jar contains 60 doses and is intended to last a month, considering you have two FODMAP-full meals a day. But then again, if your food does not contain FODMAPs, you can save the powder and make it last longer. It’s all under your control.
Is there a limit to its shelf life?
Anji Liu: With proper storage (away from humidity and under 77 degrees Fahrenheit/25 degrees Celsius), our enzymes keep for a good while. However, enzymes slowly lose their activity over time, so we recommend using your FODZYME® product within one year of purchase.
You may store your FODZYME® in the refrigerator to extend shelf life. Generally the colder the storage conditions, the longer the enzyme stability and shelf life. Given the extension beyond the shelf life at room temperature, which is already quite long, we are still working to put a number to it.
Definitely it’s important to keep the powder from moisture in the air. All of our packaging (if not single-use) is designed to be closeable to protect the powder from the outside air. If one does need to store the powder elsewhere, make sure to keep it in an airtight container.
Scientists and Healthcare Professionals On Board
You have a great advisory team. Tell us who they are and how did you assemble them? How do they work with you on product development and/or reviewing efficacy?
David Hachuel: Our company, Kiwi Biosciences, and the products we make, like FODZYME®, sit at the intersection of dietetics, GI, biotechnology, and food science. For this reason, our focus has been to attract a diverse group of scientists and healthcare professionals to advise us in all these complex domains and help us decide where to best focus our efforts to serve our member community.
Most notably, we are grateful to have the support of:
- Dr. Tom Wallach, professor of pediatric GI at SUNY Downstate
- Dr. William Chey, professor of GI at the University of Michigan and board member at the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) and Rome Foundation.
- Dr. Tatiana Toro-Ramos, PhD in Nutritional Sciences, formerly R&D at Noom Inc. and Seed Health
In addition to being world-renowned experts, we are particularly proud to have chosen a set of advisors who are happy to get their hands dirty with low-level work – from writing clinical protocols, running statistical tests, and writing manuscripts, to championing FODZYME® among peers at medical conferences. We don’t take this kind of support for granted.
How have you been marketing FODZYME®? We saw you had a presence at DDW (Digestive Disease Week – a prestigious yearly gathering of GI professionals) and participation in the Harvard-led Innovation Contest.
Anjie Liu: It’s definitely been a wild ride. Since launching in May 2021, we have received a ton of positive feedback. We are incredibly grateful to our first customers, who took a chance on us and then recommended us everywhere, which did wonders to FODZYME®’s growth. Since then, as you know, Kiwi Bio was named a Finalist in the President’s Innovation Challenge by Harvard Innovation Labs. It was such an honor to be chosen among 400 applicants!
Close to that time, we have also been accepted to present research and exhibit at the Digestive Disease Week 2022. It was an absolute honor to present there to some of the leading researchers in IBS. Our poster was highlighted as one “of particular interest and quality” by the AGA Institute Council and our latest research was very well received among the industry leaders. Dr. Tom Wallach presented the data and insights from the in-vitro efficacy study conducted with the SHIME® model of GI tract conditions.
This is not to mention the interest we have been getting from dietitians and GI professionals we’ve been lucky to work with to spread the word about the product. When delivering a novel and unique solution, we have a lot to cover in terms of customer education and scientific evidence, and we place our highest priority on this. We think this is one of the reasons clinicians choose to trust FODZYME® over others.
Aside from the polyol solution, is there anything else the team is working on?
As a matter of fact, there is! Ever since launching FODZYME®, we wanted to make it not only as effective as possible, but also easy to embed into everyday lives. Naturally, when eating at home, sprinkling white powder on meals hasn’t presented an issue. But we understand that when out and about, a whole jar of powder may raise an eyebrow or two. That is not to mention that you never fully know what, and in what quantities, goes into a meal you don’t cook yourself.
This is why we are pleased to announce the launch of the new FODZYME® on-the-go kit with single-dose stick packs. Not only does it make it extremely easy to take with you wherever you go, but each stick pack also contains 33% more enzyme concentration, to address those unpredictable meals out in the wild. Designed to fit in any pocket, purse, or hand, FODZYME® stick packs are portable, discreet (if you want them to be), and even more powerful.