Enzymes and Digestion according to About.com

Enzymes and Digestion

Digestion begins in the mouth where we physically break down foods with our tongue and teeth. The food particles then travel to the stomach where they are further digested by the acidic stomach juices.

As food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine, several digestive fluids are added. These fluids contain enzymes, which aid in the digestive process. For example, the pancreas secretes three enzymes into the small intestine: amylase, protease, and lipase. These enzymes are also produced by the intestinal wall.

Enzymes in Food

We also get important enzymes from the foods we eat. However modern cooking practices and food processing kills many of these enzymes before we ingest them. This lowers the amount of enzymes in our digestive system and slows the digestive process.

Enzyme Supplements

Therefore, many people take supplements that contain plant enzymes that catalyze, or stimulate, the digestion process.

These supplements often contain amylase, protease and lipase – enzymes that help take some of the work away from organs like the pancreas, which may be under undue stress due to modern eating habits.

Digestive Enzymes: Amylase

Each of these enzymes have special binding spots called receptors that help it match with and bind to a particular type of nutrient. For example, amylase digests carbohydrates such as the starches found in potatoes and pasta.

Digestive Enzymes: Proteases

Proteases help the body break down protein found in foods such as meat into tiny building blocks that can then be used to build and maintain the body’s tissues.

Digestive Enzymes: Lipases

And lipases help the body break down fats and oils, which may help lower the amount of fats circulating in your blood stream.

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