All about digestive enzymes
The digestive process in our bodies is a base function but a super complex one, requiring that a multitude of components work in harmony to ensure that we properly transform food products, absorb all nutrients from them and expel their waste. Digestive enzymes are key to this process.
What is a digestive enzyme?
An enzyme is a type of protein found within a cell. They create chemical reactions in the body and actually speed up the rate of a chemical reaction to help support life. Found both in our own bodies and in various food items, digestive enzymes are a group of enzymes that break down macromolecules into smaller parts to allow our bodies to disperse their nutrients throughout the bloodstream and keep us feeling good.
Why are they important?
There are three main sites of digestion in the human body, where we naturally find digestive enzymes: the mouth, the stomach and the small intestine. Our salivary glands, gastric glands and secretory glands all secrete these enzymes. Glands that work normally are able to produce enough digestive enzymes to keep the body functioning properly, but when these glands have been damaged or lost functionality, digestive enzymes help pick up the slack. Heat, disease, or harsh chemical conditions can all damage enzymes and change their shape. When this happens, an enzyme doesn’t work anymore. For example, those with stomach illnesses like lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic pancreatitis can benefit from taking supplementary digestive enzymes to reduce digestive troubles.
Digestive enzymes can also help prevent uncomfortable or even painful symptoms of indigestion, like stomach aches,diarrhea andgas. But your diet also influences your body’s enzyme production. Eating a nutritious diet on a regular basis will help ensure that your enzyme levels stay intact, and that your body stores and releases them as you need it to.
"Digestive enzymes can also help prevent uncomfortable or even painful symptoms of indigestion, like stomach aches, diarrhea and gas"
Kinds of digestive enzyme
The most important enzyme categories are proteases, lipases and amylases. They all work alongside chemicals in the body, like stomach acid and bile to digest your food.
They break down proteins into small peptides and amino acids.
They break down fats into three fatty acids.
They break down carbs into simple sugars.
Where can we find them?
Today, you can easily find supplementary digestive enzymes--just check out the vitamin section at your local grocery store. However, each has a different formulation of digestive enzymes, varying in enzyme type, source and dosage, so it can be hard to know exactly what you’re consuming. These enzymes can also be found in various foods, like pineapple (high in bromelain, a protease), mango (high in amylases) and avocado (high lin lipase). But a reliable source of many digestive enzymes is fermented food--like kombucha! The fermentation process creates healthy bacteria, which provide nutrients, enzymes and other benefits.
Ultimately, digestive enzymes are necessary to a healthy digestive process and good gut health, so get your full dose of them in Gutsy's kombucha!