Enzymes are catalysts of chemical reactions. This means that they initiate and increase the rate of cellular processes such as metabolism. Without enzymes, reactions in the body would take place too slowly to sustain life. Digestive enzymes are responsible for breaking down the food that we eat into their building blocks, which are small enough to be absorbed in the intestinal tract. Once absorbed, these building blocks can either be used for energy or stored for later use. In order to fully act on our food these enzymes are secreted in our digestive juices such as: saliva, stomach acid, pancreatic juice and bile.
ALL ABOUT DIGESTIVE ENZYMES
Types of digestive enzymes
The human body produces three main types of digestive enzyme known as: amylase, protease and lipase. Each has a unique function, and all work together to allow us to digest our food and absorb its nutrients properly.
This class of enzymes is responsible for digesting the starches and complex carbohydrates that we eat into their simple sugar subunits. Because of their size, our bodies are not capable of absorbing starches or sugars that are larger than one subunit. The most common amylase in our bodies is alpha-amylase, which is in both saliva and in pancreatic secretions. This is the enzyme that allows us to digest foods like potato, pasta, corn, and bread. When we are deficient in amylase, eating these foods will cause gas and bloating, and may cause a number of other symptoms throughout the body.
Another digestive enzyme that commonly requires supplementation is lactase. This enzyme is responsible for digesting the primary sugar found in milk, called lactose. Deficiency in this enzyme is a common condition known as lactose intolerance. Symptoms of lactose intolerance are: nausea, gas, cramping and diarrhea when the sufferer eats dairy products such as: milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and so on.
The third major class of digestive enzyme in the human body is lipase. This molecule is responsible for digestion of our dietary fat into free fatty acids that are easily absorbed in our gut. It is secreted by the pancreas and released in the intestines. Dietary fats that require the presence of lipase can be both unhealthy saturated fats found in french-fries and potato chips, and the health-boosting fats from fish oil and olive oil. The inability to properly digest dietary fat can result in steatorrhea (fat in the stool), or pale floating stools.
Papain improves food allergies, indigestion and immune functioning. Besides being used as a protein digestive aid, the enzymes in papain inhibit inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins. The anti-inflammatory effect has been studied for its effectiveness in inflammatory conditions like arthritis and sinusitis.
Bromelain as a digestive aid is able to help the body digest food and absorb nutrients. It has been found to be extremely effective healing the gastrointestinal tract and is recommended for treatment for IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) - colitis, and Crohn's, dyspepsia, and constipation.