(BeWellBuzz) The human body is an incredibly complex network of systems where each function is interrelated to the other by signalling components. The development and maintenance of all these systems is based on intricate and precise working conditions of biological catalysts called enzymes. All human bodies are capable of producing all the enzymes they require that are vital to the smooth running of the splendid show called life.
What are enzymes?
Every simple or complex process in our body is possible because of a series of chemical reactions. These reactions are governed by enzymes which either hasten the speed of the reaction by exponential rates or make otherwise impossible reactions take place in its presence. Essentially all enzymes are made up of proteins. What is amazing about these enzymes is that even though they participate in a reaction, they remain unaltered in terms of their chemical composition while they convert biological reactants (substrates) into the required products. Because of this property, they can be reused multiple times, depending on the requirement of the product. There are many benefits of digestive enzymes.
What are the main properties of enzymes?
As we have established, enzymes are proteins that take part in a reaction without changing their own chemical properties. Besides this, it is important to understand other properties of enzymes.
- Enzymes are highly specific: An enzyme is not only function specific but substrate specific.
- Enzyme catalysed reactions are reversible: They can catalyse the both the forward reactions (substrate to product) and backward reactions (product to substrate)
- Enzymes are reactive: As proteins, enzymes have a temperature and pH at which they denature and lose their activity. In most cases, denaturation is an irreversible process. The functionality or the activity’ of the enzyme is greatly affected by the prevalent temperatures and pH of the reaction. Therefore, every enzyme has an optimum temperature and pH at which the activity of the enzyme is the highest. Consequently, minimum activity is also evident at a particular point of these parameters.
What are digestive enzymes?
As the name suggests, these are a set of enzymes that aid smooth digestion of food. These enzymes are strategically secreted and present in various parts of the alimentary canal. The food we eat is systematically broken down from complex to gradually simpler compounds before they are absorbed and then distributed throughout the body. Digestive enzymes are present in the mouth, stomach, pancreas and the small intestine.
There are 4 categories of digestive enzymes:
- Proteolytic enzymes: Catalyse the breakdown of proteins to amino acids.
- Lipolytic enzymes: Catalyse the breakdown of fatty acids and glycerol.
- Amylolytic enzymes: Catalyse the breakdown starch to simple sugars.
- Nucleolytic enzymes: Catalyse the breakdown of nucleic acids.
What are digestive enzyme supplements?
The digestive enzymes especially in the stomach take some time to get secreted and act on the food. Besides this, our growing sedentary life-style causes the food to remain undigested for longer than required. Digestive enzyme supplements help speed up digestion. Consuming these supplements before or after a heavy meal can be very helpful.
What kind of digestive enzyme supplements are good for us?
There are several types of digestive enzymes. However, there are some digestive enzymes that play a more obvious role in the process. Supplements are taken to break down different kinds of food. The supplement that one chooses should contain the following essential enzymes.
- Papain: It is derived from papaya and extremely effective in digesting proteins and tenderising meat.
- Amylase: This enzyme breaks starch into its component sugars namely glucose.
- Lipase: This enzyme breaks down long chain fatty acids and consequently digesting fats.
- Lactase: This works to break down dairy products.
- Bromelain: This is an enzyme which is found in pineapple. It is a remarkable enzyme capable of digesting protein.
What are the main benefits of digestive enzymes?
Now, the question lingers as to why digestive enzyme supplements should even be considered taking, since our body produces all the enzymes required. One must understand that the more enzymes that the body uses for digestion is proportional to the exhaustion of the same. Therefore, in order to have a constant supply of one’s naturally secreted digestive enzymes to maintain a longer and healthier living, one must take these supplements.
- The most obvious benefit is the decrease in indigestion and bloated feeling of the stomach, since lesser acid is produced in the body for digestion.
- Reduction in the number of ulcers.
- Relief from hiatal hernias.
- Reduced food allergies.
Digestive Enzymes – Do try this at home!
To test how good your supplement is, there is a very simple experiment that you can conduct. Take two bowls of thick oatmeal. Leave one of the bowls as is and add the prescribed amount of digestive enzyme supplement in the other. After about half an hour, the oatmeal in the latter should start to look less thick and almost watery.
This shows that the oatmeal was partially digested which saves the body much energy in digestion and nutrients are absorbed much faster.