How Much Do You Know About Your Digestive Enzymes?

The dishes are washed, your leftovers are stored for tomorrow, and you’re relaxing after a delicious dinner. You might be reading your favorite book or watching a funny movie, but did you know that even when you are idle, your digestive enzymes are hard at work to break down the food you consume?  

Your digestive system is complex, encompassing not only your stomach but also your mouth, esophagus, and intestines. The very first step of digestion actually occurs when you chew and swallow food. You have powerful digestive enzymes in your saliva which help break down food so that it can pass smoothly to your stomach. From there, additional digestive enzymes released by your pancreas, gallbladder, and liver target and break down different nutrients for your body to use.1  

So, what are these enzymes? Digestive enzymes are proteins which act as catalysts to break down food into smaller molecules that can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. There are three main types of these enzymes: proteases, lipases, and amylases.2 Each of these target one of the three macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate) that make up the foods you eat. Protease breaks down protein into peptides and amino acids. Lipases break fat into three fatty acids and a glycerol molecule. Amylases break carbohydrates and starches into simple sugars. Without these three digestive enzymes, you would not be able to digest the food that you eat and absorb the beneficial nutrients that food provides.  

Luckily, many fruits, vegetables, and other natural foods contain plentiful, naturally occurring digestive enzymes.3 Raw honey is packed with amylase and protease enzymes. Mangoes and bananas are an amazing source of amylase enzymes. Papain, a powerful protease enzyme, is found in papaya, and lipase can be found in avocados. Pineapples are rich in protease enzymes in the form of bromelain. Additionally, many fermented foods are excellent sources of digestive enzymes due to the fermentation process, making them valuable additions to your diet. For delicious sources of probiotics and natural enzymes, try making your own fermented foods such as pickles or fermented seed sauce.  

One of the simplest ways to amp up your natural digestive power is to add foods to your diet that contain natural digestive enzymes. Nutritional formulas with high levels of digestive enzymes are also available. When selecting an enzyme formula to add to your daily nutritional regimen, we recommend that you choose a formula from a trusted, reputable company with high quality standards to ensure you are getting the best that digestive enzymes have to offer. 

Resources

  1. “Your Digestive System & How It Works.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Dec. 2017, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works. 
  2. Harvard Health Publishing. “Gut Reaction: A Limited Role for Digestive Enzyme Supplements.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/gut-reaction-a-limited-role-for-digestive-enzyme-supplements. 
  3. Raman, Ryan. “12 Foods That Contain Natural Digestive Enzymes.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 15 May 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/natural-digestive-enzymes.