Enzymes are some chemical substances responsible for chemical reactions in the human body. Enzymes are one kind of protein that breakdown the foods to be absorbed by our body. As human beings, we eat many types of food, and some foods contain carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, water, etc. These differences in food nutrients and ingredients need different enzymes to initiate the chemical process of the human body. The whole breakdown and chemical reaction processes are called Digestion in one word. Few enzymes digest starch, few are only for proteins, and some of the complex enzymes help to digest fat and other molecules that we ingest by eating.
The human body naturally produces enzymes. Enzymes that break down the food are known as digestive enzymes. We get digestive enzymes from our daily food. Fruits, vegetables, and other foods have natural digestive enzymes, and eating them can improve the digestive system. As we mentioned before, different types of food value need different enzymes. Let's see which enzymes target which nutrients.
In simple ways, there are mainly three enzymes that deal with our primary three nutrients; starch, protein, and fats. Like:
- Proteases: These enzymes digest protein into small peptides and amino acids
- Lipases: These enzymes digest fat into three fatty acids
- Amylases: These enzymes digest starch into simple sugars
Enzymes help build muscle, destroy toxins, and break down food particles during Digestion. An enzyme's shape depends on its function. Heat, disease or harsh chemical conditions can destroy enzymes and alternate their shape. When this occurs, an enzyme ceases to function, which impacts the body processes that the enzyme supports.
This article will emphasize starchy foods and the enzymes that digest starch or carbohydrate. Because, in the whole world, the most eaten nutrient is starch or carbohydrate. Famous or random, both kinds of foods can contain carbohydrates. Potatoes, rice, corn, wheat, barley, sorghum, and even some green vegetables have starch, such as; green peas, squash, etc.
After we intake the starch compounds, starch needs at least two kinds of Amylases and one Maltose for completing the digestion process. Let's see in detail how these kinds of enzymes digest starch!
Amylase from Saliva
Chewing breaks down food molecules into smaller ones that combine with Saliva secreted by the salivary glands in the mouth. In addition to mucin and buffers, Saliva contains the salivary enzyme amylase, which acts on starch in food and breaks it down to Maltose. Salivary amylase continues for the carbohydrates in the mouth for a brief period, after which the partially digested carbohydrates mixture travels down the esophagus into the stomach. Carbohydrate digestion does not occur in the stomach due to acidic gastric juices inhibiting salivary amylase activity.
Pancreatic Amylase and Maltase
The pancreas secretes pancreatic juices, which contain the pancreatic enzyme amylase, as the combination of gastric juices and partially digested food enters the small intestine. This enzyme breaks down the remaining polysaccharides into maltose disaccharide units. The enzyme Maltase, which is found in the small intestine lining, breaks down Maltose into two glucose units in the final step of complex carbohydrate digestion. After that, glucose is absorbed and enters the bloodstream.
Some other helping enzymes
Sucrase and Lactase
Two additional enzymes digest starch which is found in the small intestine. Sucrose or table sugar is broken down into its constituent units of glucose and fructose by the enzyme sucrase. In contrast, lactose or milk sugar is broken down into glucose and galactose by lactase. These monosaccharides are absorbed in the small intestine and circulated to the liver. Because the human body can only use glucose as an energy source, the liver converts fructose and galactose to glucose. Glucose is either used as an immediate energy source or stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles.
Taking Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Some people do not have enough digestive enzymes, or their bodies do not release enough enzymes, which means they cannot digest certain foods and absorb nutrients.
Among the various types of digestive enzyme deficiency, some important ones are:
- Congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency: This means you don't have enough sucrase enzymes that digest starch and sugar.
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI): This occurs when your pancreas does not produce enough of the enzymes required for carbohydrate, protein, and fat Digestion.
- Lactose intolerance: If your body does not produce enough lactase, you may have difficulty digesting the sugar found naturally in milk and dairy products.
Digestive enzyme insufficiency can lead to malnutrition or gastrointestinal irritation. Common symptoms include belly pain or cramps, bloating, diarrhea, gas, oily stools (bowel movements), and unexplained weight loss or gain.
So, if you feel any of these symptoms or problems, you should consider taking supplements to improve your digestion system. Digestive supplements are full of necessary enzymes and ingredients, and treating digestive enzyme insufficiency is wiser to have a healthy life. But over the counter supplementation is not recommended. Also, try to eat healthy foods together with any supplements you take. Enzymes digest starch and other nutrients are available in our daily foods. A healthy diet with necessary supplements as per your health is required to have hazard free digestion system.