How Digestive Enzymes Can Improve Your Health

How Digestive Enzyme Can Improve Your Health?

Digestive enzymes are produced by human, animals and some plants to facilitate and speed up breaking down big molecules. Digestive enzymes in the digestive tract help with food digestion and nutrient absorption. Other cells of the body also make similar enzymes, for example our defense cells produce enzymes to destroy microbial proteins.

Food digestion in human consists of multiple steps and for every step there are a specific enzymes. These specific digestive enzymes are produced by salivary glands, pancreas, liver, and the lining of the digestive tract. Digestive enzymes are essential for our survival and health. 

Different Types of Digestive Enzymes  Are Specialized to Digest Specific Types of Foods:

  • Protease & Peptidase break proteins to the smaller peptides and amino acids.
  • Trypsin & Chymotrypsin convert proteins to amino acids.
  • Aminopeptase breaks the peptides further to amino acids.
  • Lipase breaks the fat molecules and triglycerides to fatty acids and glycerol.
  • Phospholipase convert the phospholipids to fatty acids.
  • Amylase breaks big carbohydrates and starch to the smaller sugars.
  • Lactase converts lactose (sugar from dairy ) to glucose.
  • Maltase converts maltose to glucose
  • Surcease Converts sucrose to simple sugars of glucose & fructose
  • Neuclease breaks the nucleic acids to nucleotides.

Steps Of Digestion:

Digestive process starts in the mouth, where salivary glands produce multiple enzyme to facilitate further digestion in the stomach.

Saliva contains amylase and lipase initiating digestion of carbohydrates and fat. Salivary glands also secrete lysozymes to combat microbes. And the R-Factor in the saliva assists with the absorption of vitamin B12.

Next, when food reaches the stomach, it triggers parietal cells to release acid which consequently initiates the production of pepsin and acidic gastric lipase by Chief cells. Pepsin starts digesting protein molecules, and acidic lipase starts the lipid/fat digestion. Stomach acid also play an important role in the absorption of micronutrients such as Iron, calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, copper, and selenium from food. The end product of the stomach is a semi fluid content called Chyme.

Then gradually stomach empties the acidic chyme into the small intestine. The beginning of the small intestine is called duodenum consisting of S cells. S cells are sensitive to the acid and produce a hormone called secretin. Secretin triggers pancreas to release bicarbonate-rich juice and pancreatic enzymes. Pancreatic enzymes are including trypsin, chymotrypsin, lipase (non acidic), phospholipase, and amylase. Bicarbonate juice is necessary to reduce the acidity of the chyme providing protection for the intestinal wall against acidity, also in contrast to the stomach, pancreatic enzymes can only begin their job when the environment is not acidic.

Other cells in the lining of the duodenum are called "I cells" being responsive to high protein and fat content chym. I cells produce a signalling compound called CCK (Cholecystokinin). CCK Further stimulate the gallbladder to release bile to duodenum via the bile duct. Bile helps with the absorption of fat molecules by emulsification.

Bile is made by liver cells and gathered in gallbladder. Bile is made up two major parts including; bile acids being critical for digesting lipids and absorption of vitamins, and the waste part containing cholesterol, phospholipids, and bilirubin.

More enzymes such as maltase, lactase, and sucrase are recreated along the small intestine to help further breaking down the food to simple nutrients.

At this level the process of digesting food to its smaller components is completed. This is very apparent that digestive enzyme insufficiency in any of those steps, will create an interruption in digestion . To address digestive enzyme insufficiency usually a proper supplementation is required.

Who Needs to Take Digestive Enzymes?

Generally speaking, taking digestive enzymes makes the job of the liver, pancreas and small intestine easier helping to take the stress off these organs. Usually Raw foods and vegetables are rich in enzymes; however, processing food and cooking destroys majority of these enzymes. So body has to make enough enzymes to digest all the food and that stresses the enzyme producing organs. Supplementing with digestive enzymes help to digest the food more efficiently.

Anybody with digestive diseases such as Crohn's Colitis, Irritable Bowel, Constipation, Diarrhea, Leaky Gut, Gas and Bloating, and Acid Reflux benefits from taking digestive enzymes by helping their digestive organs and improving digestive process.

By aging the digestive system gets slower and produces lass of acid and enzyme necessary to absorb nutrients. Low acidity of the stomach alone can contributes to less response in the small intestine. As a result food stays longer in the stomach. Burping and acid reflux are a few symptoms of low acid production in the stomach.

Low acid production (Hypochlorhydria) is not only cause by aging. This condition is a result of low acid production that could be identified at any age. Low stomach acid interrupts the next steps of the digestion, creating poor absorption, nutrient deficiency, and symptoms of indigestion. Low stomach acidity could be one of the contributors to Iron and B12 deficiency as well as frequent candida infection. Low acid stomach increases food allergies and food sensitivity, as the undigested or poorly digested molecules get into the small intestine, the immune system will react and cause allergy, asthma , and chronic inflammation.

Studies have linked low acid production in children to food allergies, which then causes asthmatic reaction, poor absorption and being under weight. Enzyme therapy and eliminating those foods that child is reactive to is suggested to be included in the treatment.

Liver disease is usually simultaneous with digestive enzyme insufficiency. Bile plays a role in emulsification of lipids which is important for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin D, Vitamin A and omega 3 fatty acids. Therefore deficiencies of fat soluble vitamins and fatty acids could be in part due to poor absorption.

Pancreatic insufficiency cases the low pancreatic enzymes. Pancreatic tissue could be impacted by some toxins and free radicals which results in low enzyme production. Pancreatic enzyme also could be affected by fluoride intake. An study suggests that ingesting fluoride can neutralize the pancreatic enzymes.

Low pancreatic enzymes cause a great deficiency in digestion and the absorption of nutrient. Symptoms like chronic diarrhea, flatulence, and bloating about one hour after meal could be results of low enzyme level.

What are the benefits of taking digestive enzymes?

Of course the most important function of digestive enzymes is to make the nutrients from food available and possible to be absorbed. So, balanced levels of digestive enzyme is curtail to our health.

Digestive enzymes enhance the absorption of nutrients such as essential fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals like Iron, magnesium, calcium and trace minerals.

Digestive enzymes help our digestive system to break down the difficult to digest proteins such as gluten and casein, as well as sugars like lactose.

Taking digestive enzyme help those who have to take high protein type foods including athletes to absorb more of the amino acids and other nutrients for quick recovery and better results.

Digestive enzymes assist in digesting high fiber meals. High Fiber diet is very healthy and it provides numerous benefits; but human digestive system does not produce any enzyme digest fiber, therefore symptoms of bloating and cramping is common after taking a high fiber meal. Taking digestive enzyme with high fiber foods will prevent the discomfort and improves the digestive process.

Symptoms of IBS, acid reflux and conditions such as leaky gut, celiac disease, and lactose intolerance greatly improve from supplementing with digestive enzymes.

It is clinically proven that Indigestion, gas, and bloating, food sensitivity, and Candida over growth or dysbiosis improve with taking digestive enzymes.

Research suggests taking a full spectrum of digestive enzymes is beneficial and could improve health in conditions such as mal-absorption syndrome, mal-nutrition, and in fragile patients including young children and elderly.

Both in animal model and in vitro studies showed taking combination of 9 strains of probiotics including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria along with spectrum of 10 digestive enzymes improve Cholesterol metabolism. The mouse model under the high fat diet when supplemented with a combination of probiotics and digestive enzymes showed lower LDL ( bad Cholesterol), higher HDL ( good cholesterol ) and general improvement in cholesterol profile in comparison with mouse under the same diet without supplementation.

Some immune related diseases, inflammation, and even cardiovascular conditions could improve or be prevented by taking digestive enzymes.

Which Digestive enzymes Are Better?

Digestive enzyme supplements are made from three different sources. Pancreatic enzymes and bile salts are sourced from animals, Vegetarian enzymes are obtained from probiotics and fungi, Fruit enzyme like papain and bromalaine are from papaya and pineapple. There are verity of supplements that use only one source or combination of sources and different ratio of each enzyme.

Usually the source of enzyme and the ratio of each kind is chosen based on the digestive symptoms and the deficiencies. Full spectrum digestive enzyme are usually used for general digestive improvement.

All the enzymes are not made the same and will not perform the same. Even though at the first glance quantity and the ratio of two supplements may appear the same, there are specific methods of making them to be able to work more effectively in both acidic environment of the stomach and low acidic zone of small intestine. Also some of the combinations makes the enzymes more effective.

For example Betaine Hydrochloride (Betaine HCL) works better with Pepsin, Lipase and bile salts work together for lipid digestion, and some herbs like ginger and peppermint enhance the help of enzymes.

Different enzyme products have different unit of activity. Enzymes activity of an enzyme is measured based on how fast it can break down a certain food. This measurement tests are called assays, and each enzyme has its own assay reported as activity unit. For example, the HUT, SAP, AP, PU, and PCall are units chose for protease enzymes registered in Food Chemical Codex (FCC). DU is the FCC's unit for amylase.

Better brands normally provide these units and usually use the FCC units or those form US Pharmacopeia (USP). Depending on the application of the products different units may be chosen. Metric weight or milligram amount of an enzyme alone does not say much about how fast acting or potent the enzyme is. Combination of unties and the mg amounts provides better understanding of how good a digestive enzyme is when compared with the other ones.

Articles and products featured by Health Palace are collected from a variety of sources and are provided as a service by Health Palace. These newsletters, while of potential interest to readers, do not necessarily represent the opinions nor constitute the advice of Health Palace. Presented materials are only for information purposes and do not intent to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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19th Dec 2016

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