Enzymes And The Digestive Health

🥰Lanu Pitan🥰
3 min readJul 16, 2020

Enzymes important function is to aid in metabolism and digestion

Image by Clker-free-vector-images from Pixabay

Digestive enzymes are special types of proteins that play a vital role in ensuring that the body is supplied with the necessary nutrients from the foods we eat. They do this by breaking down the foods in a way that the cells can assimilate the nutrients. There are so many of them and are recognised by the type of function they carry out.

The enzymes get into action from the moment we put foods into our mouths, and they regulate every cell within the body. The body is fed by the nutrients that the enzymes helped to break down to regenerate the blood, feed and repair the cells, build muscle tissue and eliminate waste.

There are other enzymes, termed (PROTEOLYTIC ENZYMES) that aid in regulating other body functions like our senses, hormones, and emotions. These are carried out by over seventy thousands enzymatic responses, however, this article will concentrate only on digestive enzymes.

Enzymes Act As Biological Catalysts

The role of enzymes as catalysts here is to speed up all chemical activities within the cells. Such speed makes it possible for cells to receive energy and nutrients as when required.

Digestive enzymes work throughout the digestive tract and are present in some organs, like the pancreas, liver and gall-bladder. Eating fruits and vegetables have natural digestive enzymes and can aid in your digestion.

There are three important digestive enzymes, each deals with a class of food at its function:

Lipase — breaks down fats into three fatty acids and a glycerol molecule. Lipase can be found in avocado,

Amylase — breaks down carbohydrates (starches) into simple sugars like glucose and fructose. Amylase is plentiful in mangoes and bananas.

Protease — breaks down proteins into small peptides and amino acids. Protease is found in papaya (pawpaw).

Everyday Foods That Contain Natural Digestive Enzymes

Common foods that naturally contain digestive enzymes are honey, pineapple, kiwi fruits, papayas and ginger.

Image by Clker-free-vector images from Pixabay

Most fermented foods like yoghurts, miso, fermented cabbage, and kimchi also have digestive enzymes. The process of fermentation brings out the enzymes. One reasons fermented foods are good for digestive health.

Lack of Digestive Enzymes

If there’s a deficiency of digestive enzymes, it means your body is unable to digest foods. This could cause dire consequences of malnutrition for the simple fact that you are unable to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat.

This malnutrition could cause you some discomforts from common digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, (IBS), heartburn, diarrhoea, bloating, stomachache, acid reflux, constipation, and stomach cramps.

Other more serious illnesses can be pancreatitis (enlarged pancreas) which of course can lead to pancreatic cancer and cystic fibrosis.

The Question Of Digestive Enzymes Supplements

As with all else, there are supplements that claim to support the body to effectively combat the lack of digestive enzymes. The digestive enzymes supplements industry alone is worth about one and a half-billion dollars.

The issue of the fact that this is an industry with very low regulation, each manufacturer making unsubstantiated claims about their products.

My advice as would all nutritional scientist is to ensure you get your enzymes from foods. You can increase the foods until you are satisfied that your system is in a position to naturally absorb nutrition. This will help you in the long run.

You must also remember that the body has a natural tendency to heal itself if given the right nutrition.

There are two types of supplements available for people with digestive enzymes disorder. A prescribed one from the doctor, and over the counter supplements. A medical practitioner will only prescribe after certain tests have been carried out.

However, none of the two — both over the counter and prescribed digestive enzymes supplements work for conditions like heartburn and Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Read More from Shin Jie Yong about gut health: