What are digestive Enzymes?
Digestive enzymes are a group of enzymes that break down polymeric macromolecules into their smaller building blocks, in order to facilitate their absorption by the body. Digestive enzymes are found in the digestive tracts of animals (including humans) and in the traps of carnivorous plants, where they aid in the digestion of food, as well as inside cells, especially in their lysosomes, where they function to maintain cellular survival. Digestive enzymes of diverse specificities are found in the saliva secreted by the salivary glands, in the secretions of cells lining.
Digestive enzymes – proteins produced by the body – aid digestion and help break down the foods that we eat. The pancreas produces digestive enzymes, while the mouth, stomach, and small intestine produce lesser amounts.
Digestive enzymes may also be taken in supplement form, usually as a chewable tablet or pill. Supplement-based catalysts may consist of one or more enzymes, and some are packaged and sold along with probiotics (“good bacteria” that aids digestive health and is essential to the breakdown of foods.)
TYPES OF DIGESTIVE ENZYMES.
There are four classes of digestive enzymes, each with their respective functions.
Amylase. This converts carbohydrates into simple sugars such as glucose. The saliva in your mouth contains amylase, as does your pancreas. The breakdown process begins before you even swallow!
Lipase. This converts fats into molecular form, enabling it to pass through the intestines. Lipase is produced mainly by the pancreas, with the stomach and mouth taking a smaller role.
Nucleases, the building blocks of nucleic acids, break down acids such as DNA and RNA. As these acids reach the lower part of the small intestine, they are digested as sugars and phosphates.
Proteases, also stored in the pancreas, assist in the breakdown of proteins into amino acids. Amino acids are the central building blocks for many physiological functions.
What do enzymes do for digestion?
Enzymes break down the substances we eat. That means enzymes break down proteins, cellulose, starches and other foodstuffs.
This makes it possible for the intestines to absorb nutrients.
Enzymes begin the digestive process in the mouth, as they’re secreted by salivary glands.
They work to break down starch into sugars.
The next batch of digestive enzymes are encountered in the stomach. These are referred to as gastric enzymes. There are several different types of gastric enzymes including
Gelatinase (breaks down meats),
Gastric Amylase (breaks down starch),
Gastric Lipase (breaks down certain types of fats), and
Pepsin (breaks down proteins – the most predominant gastric enzyme).
There are also enzymes in the pancreas. These digestive enzymes break substances down into even smaller parts than the mouth and stomach, sorting out solitary amino acids and separating fats.
There are also other enzymes in the small intestine that break substances down into monosaccharides.
How do we become enzyme deficient?
If something prevents an enzyme from working at its full potential, it is called an Inhibitor.
Enzymes are inhibited by a lot of things – drugs and poisons are frequently inhibitors, for instance – including temperature and chemicals.
For this reason, simply cooking or processing food can destroy many of the natural enzymes. Since most people don’t eat a lot of raw foods in their daily meals, the potential to absorb additional enzymes is lower now than it was two hundred years ago.
Also, as a person ages, their enzyme production naturally slows.
WHO SHOULD TAKE DIGESTIVE ENZYMES
Optimizing digestive enzyme levels is not necessary for everyone. For normal, healthy individuals, your diet alone will suffice. (A bit of supplementation to be on the safe side doesn’t hurt, however.)
That said, certain people can benefit by taking active measures to boost their enzyme production. Individuals who should talk to their doctor about enzyme supplementation include:
– People with liver troubles. A strong correlation exists between people with liver issues (including liver disease) and low digestive enzyme counts. If you have liver problems (about 15 percent of us do), then consider boosting your digestive enzymes.
– People with digestive disorders. Those with conditions such as acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and others, may benefit from enzymes as they are known to alleviate the gastrointestinal stress of these conditions.
– People who are aging. As we get older, the “triggering” mechanisms that help prevent acid from entering the intestine are less responsive. This can lead to a decrease in our normal digestive processes, yet digestive enzymes can help curtail this problem.
Digestive enzymes are not only a crucial element of healthy digestion, but they also play an important role in for our health and well being. These enzymes help extract essential nutrients that we need to not only survive but thrive.
While we can find a multitude of good digestive enzymes as supplements, we’d be wise always to try a natural way first. The “natural way” being, of course, through food.
Research shows that eating a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet may boost your body’s natural levels of digestive enzymes by 40 percent when compared to a high-fat diet, moderate-carb diet. A high-fat, low-carb diet also supersedes any other dietary alternative.
If supplements are your thing, you should know a bit about how they work. Digestive enzyme supplements come from one of three sources: fruits (pineapple and papaya), animals (ox and hog pancreatin), and plants (probiotics, yeast, and fungi.)
Symptoms of Digestive Enzymes Deficiency.
- Acid reflux