10 Cool Facts about Enzymes
Digestive enzymes are proteins your body makes to help break down the food you eat into usable nutrients that are absorbed from the digestive tract and used throughout the body.* Here are 10 cool facts you may not know about enzymes!
- Enzymes play an important role in every function in the human body. The protein-based substances are involved in eating, digestion, breathing, kidney and liver function, reproduction, elimination and more.
- Several places in your digestive system secrete enzymes. They include the mouth, stomach, pancreas and cells of the small intestine—even your gut bacteria secrete digestive enzymes.
- Enzymes help with nutrient absorption. They help break down foods in the digestive tract by breaking apart the bonds that hold nutrients together—nutrients that will be absorbed so the body can use them for energy and other important functions.
- Different types of enzymes for different types of foods. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are the most basic foods the body breaks down and absorbs; the enzymes protease, lipase and amylase are made by the body for this purpose.
- Diet and lifestyle make a big difference. A healthy diet and exercise will help promote healthy enzyme production in the body.
- Humans used to get a LOT more enzymes from their diet. In the past, humans consumed plenty of raw foods to help re-supply the digestive tract with beneficial enzymes, but today most of the foods we eat are cooked or heavily processed—both of which deplete natural enzymes. What’s more, because even the raw foods we eat are typically transported and refrigerated, their natural enzyme content is lowered even further.
- Enzyme production decreases with age. As we age, our bodies produce less protease, lipase and amylase, which means digestion of protein, fats, and carbohydrates may be impaired as we get older.
- There are several digestive enzymes the human body lacks. These include cellulase and phytase, the enzymes needed to break down cellulose (plant fiber) and the phytates/phytic acid found in beans and legumes. Because of this deficiency, many people have trouble breaking down starchy beans, legumes and nuts to absorb their beneficial nutrients.
- Plant-derived enzymes are effective over a broader pH range in the body. For this reason, a plant-based digestive enzyme supplement is often recommended to help break down a wide variety of foods—including proteins, fats, dairy, carbs and sugars.*
- Kids benefit from enzymes too! Taken with meals, enzymes are great way to support digestive health and help little tummies break down a broad range of foods.*