How Many Digestive Enzymes Are There?
Digestive enzymes are some of the most popular supplements on the market. Millions of people use these products every day, but only a few know how they work. The health benefits of enzymes go beyond better digestion. These natural compounds can dramatically improve your health and vitality. Some provide digestive support and reduce bloating, while others boost your energy and enhance nutrient absorption.
These compounds are naturally found in the human body. They're also available in supplement form. Some yogurts and baby formulas are enriched with digestive enzymes too. These proteins facilitate specific chemical reactions in your digestive tract. Each enzyme has a different role. Here's a brief overview of the most important digestive enzymes and their role:
Proteases and Peptidases
Proteases and peptidases break down proteins into amino acids and small peptides. Protein digestion is a complex process that starts in the stomach and continues in the small intestine. Without enzymes, your body wouldn't be able to effectively use and make new proteins for various physiological functions.
This enzyme splits fat into a glycerol molecule and three fatty acids. It basically helps your body digest fats, oils, and triglycerides. Next time you have a fatty meal, take a dietary supplement containing lipase to avoid digestive problems. Most people, excepting those with Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, produce this enzyme in sufficient amounts.
Spinach, kale, cabbage, algae, broccoli and other veggies contain fiber. Cellulase helps digest plant fiber and cellulose.
This group of enzymes breaks down the starches, carbohydrates (polysaccharides), and sugars found in fruits, vegetables and other common foods. If you have low levels of amylase, you're at risk for abscesses, inflammation, eczema, psoriasis, herpes, and allergies. Amylase is also used in bread making to make the process faster. Since sugar digestion begins in the mouth, this enzyme is produced by the salivary glands as well as in the pancreas.
Gelatinase helps your body process collagen and gelatin. This proteolytic enzyme contributes to the growth and repair of tissue.
Contrary to the popular belief, lactase is not the same with lactose. Lactase is actually an enzyme that helps digest lactose - the sugar found in dairy products. If you have milk allergy or lactose intolerance, look for supplements containing lactase. This compound is essential to the complete digestion of milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products. In general, people with lactose intolerance don’t produce enough of this enzyme.
Lysozyme damage bacterial cell walls and plays a key role in immunity. Low levels of this enzyme have been linked with bronchopulmonary dysplasia in infants, chronic diarrhea, conjunctivitis, bacterial infections, and even cancer. This natural compound is part of the innate immune system and has antibacterial properties.
You’ve probably heard about bromelain, the enzyme found in pineapple. This substance has the role to break down protein. It also boasts strong anti-inflammatory effects and can speed up recovery following infection and injuries. Research shows that bromelain supplements may help relieve arthritis pain, reduce cough and nasal mucus, speed up wound healing, and kill some viruses and bacteria