It may be interesting to note that there is not one particular enzyme or molecule but a serious of special enzymes that are necessary for breaking down the foods that you eat. Actually the process of digestion is very complex and involves many enzymes each of which has a specific purpose. The range of enzymes in our digestive system each provides an important service in keeping us healthy by causing large pieces of food to become small absorbable molecules.
Without something to break down starch the bacterium which resides in our colon would actually use the starch for food and result in bacteria overgrowth which causes bloating and gas, so the first enzyme to get into the game goes by the name of Amylase and it is found in our saliva and in the enzyme blend that is released from the pancreas. This enzyme’s primary function is as a starch dissolver and has first dibs in taking starch out of our food and breaks it down into simple sugars which are easier to absorb.
Lipase is the next enzyme to get into the game as it works throughout the digestive process in breaking down the fats in our diet. It proceeds to work with the bile salts that are excreted from the liver to emulsify and digest long fat molecules and without it our fat would pass quickly through our system which results in diarrhea and occasional leakage from the lower bowel. Additionally our bodies rely on particular essential fatty acids that can be derived from food, and without this our cell structures would not function normally.
Most of our body would not work properly without the essential amino acids from absorbable protein so the enzyme Protease helps out by breaking down the proteins in your food. Proteins are molecules that make up the majority of our living tissue which includes our muscles and internal systemic enzymes and only certain proteins can be provided through our food. Protein malnutrition is a common condition when someone’s protease levels are low and this is why the amino acids from absorbable protein is so important.
The proteins break down in several steps and as most proteins aren’t simply long skinny molecules but must be unraveled from the coiled state. Much of this happens in the acidic environment of our stomach and once unraveled proteases break down the pieces of the protein into amino acids that are easily absorbed into our system.
Maltese, sucrose, diastase and invertase are enzymes that are important in breaking down specific sugar that we ingest. Diastase and maltase for example break down malt sugars; these are the kinds of sugars which can be found in malt liquor and other malted foods. Invertase and sucrose also aid in breaking down sugars but are better able to break down sucrose or table sugars. If these cannot do their job the bacteria in our intestines would cause us to have stomach cramps, bloating and gas. Lactase is another specific enzyme that breaks down the sugar which is found in dairy foods and without such our ability to drink milk or ingest any dairy product would greatly be impaired. The enzyme Papain is what makes up meat tenderizer and works in our digestive system to breakdown up specific segments of protein into smaller amino acids and like any enzyme the temperature and pH conditions of the environment determine how well and how fat Papain can do its job. The enzyme hemicellulase is also important digestive as it is vital in the digestion of plant material. Plant cell walls are made from cellulose and are often difficult to digest and poor plant digestion can leave an excess of roughage is eaten by the bacteria in our colon which ends up as gas and a probable intolerance to raw vegetables.
In the final analysis all these enzymes combined are very important for your digestion and nutritional absorption that goes on in your body and with a proper diet you can keep your system going smoothly for years to come.