The human body essentially runs on chemical reactions. Chemical reactions in the body occur when two molecules interact.
Enzymes are the catalysts that either facilitate chemical reactions or alternatively speed up these reactions occurring within our cells. You may be familiar with Enzymes, as they contain the suffix – ‘ase’ e.g Lipase and Protease.
There are three primary groups of Enzymes:
Metabolic Enzymes: The Enzymes responsible for carrying out cellular functions required for our survival.
Food Enzymes: The Enzymes extracted from the food we consume e.g. raw fruit and vegetables. *It is important to note, that cooking or in many cases, the processing of food destroys the enzymes contained within the food.
Digestive Enzymes: The Enzymes directly responsible for breaking down the food we consume into nutrients the body can absorb and use.
As is the case with enzymes in general, Digestive Enzymes are specific to their role and can be categorized into four primary groups:
Protease: The Digestive Enzyme responsible for breaking down Proteins into Amino Acids.
Amylase: The Digestive Enzyme responsible for breaking down Carbohydrates into blood sugars (Glucose).
Lipase: The Digestive Enzyme responsible for breaking down Fats into Fatty Acids and Cholesterol.
Nuclease: The Digestive Enzyme responsible for breaking the bonds between nucleotides in nucleic acids.
When the human body is lacking a specific Digestive Enzyme food intolerances can occur. An example of this is the enzyme Lactase, which is responsible for breaking down the sugar found in milk (Lactose). If deficient in Lactase you will have a difficult time digesting milk, resulting in a Lactose intolerance.
The infographic below shows the location of each Digestive Enzyme which is found in the primary areas of digestion e.g. the Mouth, Pancreas, Stomach and Small Intestine where most nutrient absorption occurs.
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*The information on this site is designed for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor.
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