Enzymes are protein catalysts produced by the body and have the suffix –asi. Enzymes are involved in the breakdown of chemical compounds by regulating the speed at which each metabolic process is carried out. Those involved in the processes of digestion are called digestive enzymes.
How do digestive enzymes act?
Digestive enzymes are involved in the hydrolysis of large molecules of food. There are 3 main types of digestive enzymes: those that break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Proteolytic enzymes are involved exclusively in the digestion of proteins. Protease is localized in the stomach, pancreatic and intestinal fluids. Other proteolytic enzymes are pepsin, trypsin, pancreatin and humoralin.
Enzymes used to digest fats are called lipases. These fats in fatty acids and glycerol, which in the course of time are absorbed into the small intestine.
Amylase is the main enzyme used to break down carbohydrates. It is produced in the mouth and therefore found in saliva. Amylase is also secreted in pancreatic and intestinal fluids.
In addition to these basic digestive enzymes, there is a whole range of complementary enzymes that work together to produce the appropriate end products.
Finally, lactase is the enzyme responsible for the digestion of milk sugar, lactose, so that it can be easily absorbed in the small intestine.
Why do most people not have a sufficient number of digestive enzymes?
Ideally, we produce the enzymes ourselves or take them from the food we eat. However, aging, genes, health problems, diet, and even drugs can limit the production of enzymes in our body.
Many people in excellent health are deficient in enzymes and consequently lose nutrients. Some enzymes that we use to digest come from food.
For example, the enzyme in banana that converts banana starch into sugar as it ripens is the same as the kind of enzyme found in our saliva that starts digesting the same starch when we eat the banana. Both are amylases. And our banana and saliva starches are both used in banana digestion.
Fermented, probiotic foods are rich in enzymes, produced by bacteria, and which are perhaps a key ingredient in the health benefits of probiotics. In our modern diet, however, high temperatures from cooking and pasteurization, as well as chemical preservatives destroy these enzymes.
When we eat a lot of processed and cooked foods, we deprive our body of enzymes. If you eat more raw foods, whole grain foods and fermented foods you may have more enzymes in your diet.
A last factor that reduces our enzymes is that of stress problem. Good digestion takes place in a calm physiological state, explains Dr. Steelsmith. Reducing stress in your life will also help you increase your enzyme levels.
Edward Howell MD, with global prestige in enzymes and nutrition, says that enzymes deteriorate above 48 degrees Celsius. After the water boils at 100 degrees, you understand that cooking is destructive to most foods. Dr.. Francis Pottenger whose famous experiments with two groups of cats in the 30s are known to this day. One group was given exclusively raw, uncooked food. The other was only cooked.
The results were overwhelmingly clear: all cats fed raw food lived a long, healthy life. Cats fed on cooked food got sick and died much younger.
What is the benefit of taking dietary supplements with digestive enzymes?
Some individuals have difficulty digesting the lactose of milk and other dairy products, which is due to incomplete secretion of the enzyme lactase. Lactose intolerance is characterized by symptoms such as severe flatulence, abdominal pain, diarrhea and weight loss. Supplements containing the enzyme lactase are effective in treating these symptoms and help break down lactose.
Some individuals experience flatulence and have a sense of “fullness” that persists for some time after eating the food. This can cause disturbed sleep, bloating, headache and abdominal pain.
Other individuals may produce abnormally small amounts of digestive enzymes. This can occur with an increase in age or after a serious surgery involving the digestive system. Supplements that provide a mixture of the main digestive enzymes may help reduce symptoms and digest nutrients and break them down into an energy source for the body.
Digestive enzymes can also reduce the healing time of bruises and minor injuries in sports, as shown by two control studies.
There are various dietary supplements with digestive enzymes that we like. We recommend the ones that we believe are the best.
One of them is Masszymes 3.0, a complete dietary supplement of American origin and with 17 different digestive enzymes that cover most of the needs for proper digestion.
Follow the link for an in depth review on Bioptimizers MassZymes 3.0.