You probably haven't heard much about enzymes since high school biology, unless you've gone out of your way to research them so as to better understand them. No need to do that now - just read on. These substances are common to all fruits and vegetables, and they are essential for various processes in the body.
Enzymes: What Are They Exactly?
Enzymes are substances that speed up chemical processes in the body, also known as biocatalysts
. More specifically, they are proteins, which accelerate the rate of biochemical reactions but do not affect the nature of the final product. Enzymes initiate biological reactions as well as help improve the internal conditions for chemical reactions to take place.
Different enzymes do different things. They can influence reactions in different organs and organ systems, depending on their acidity and their intended purpose
. Here we take a look at some digestive enzymes that help break down macronutrients. We also examine some enzymes that serve other functions.
Important Enzymes and Where to Find Them
is one of the most commonly mentioned and important enzymes for overall health. You can get a very healthy dosage of bromelain from consuming pineapple
, and it is also commonly available in supplement form. Bromelain helps to reduce inflammation that occurs as a result of infections and injuries. Inflammation of any kind is generally negative, so this enzyme can be very useful.
is an enzyme that naturally occurs in the fruit papaya, and it can also commonly be found in supplement form
. Papain is known for its use in promoting the healing of bedsores, burns, and other wounds and issues of the skin
. Papain is also useful in treating wounds. Consider adding papaya or a supplement containing papain to your diet for these reasons.
is a digestive enzyme that is specifically helpful in breaking down the proteins in protein-rich foods such as eggs and meat
. They can be helpful for people who have trouble breaking down proteins and/or these types of foods. Pepsin is a digestive enzyme that occurs naturally in the body, but it can be very helpful if you supplement pepsin as it can provide extra digestive help to those who need it.
is another digestive enzyme, and it helps to break down the starches that we consume
. It breaks down the fiber, sugars, and other substances that are found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. Amylase is produced naturally in the pancreas and salivary glands. But, it can still be useful to supplement with amylase, as it has the potential to increase digestive efficiency.
is a digestive enzyme that is particularly designed to help break down lactose, which is found in milk and dairy products
. Without lactase, our bodies would become lactose intolerant. The bodies of babies and infants tend to produce plenty of lactase, because they are in the nursing stage of life. However, lactase production wanes with age in many people. For this reason, supplementing with lactate can be helpful if you consume dairy products.
is a very important digestive enzyme. It helps to break down consumed fats into fatty acids and glycerol, so that they can be processed by the body. It is critical for digesting foods such as butter, olive oil, and a wide variety of other plant and animal fats
. Without the proper digestion of fatty acids and other fat derivatives, various adverse effects can occur such as a loss of energy, damage to your body's cells, and other things.
Hopefully now you have both a greater knowledge AND appreciation for enzymes!