Conversations about digestive enzymes have become more popular today than ever before. We look to supplement through pills and powders without understanding that everything we need is present in our food.
Let’s Talk About Digestion
There are five stages in the process of digestion.
Ingestion: Taking food into the mouth.
Digestion: Breaking down food so it can absorb into the small intestine.
Absorption: Nutrients pass into the bloodstream from the small intestine.
Assimilation: The body uses food.
Elimination: Getting rid of undigested and unabsorbed food.
Digestion is about using the food we eat to obtain nutrients necessary to facilitate growth, give us energy, and perform vital functions. Chewing is an important aspect of kicking off the digestive process as it creates saliva to begin the work of activating enzymes to breakdown and absorb food.
So, What Are Enzymes?
All living things have enzymes that our body produces naturally. Enzymes are proteins that help speed up metabolism or the chemical reactions in our bodies. Some build substances while breaking down others.
Enzymes also support these body functions:
- Building muscle
- Nerve function
- Ridding our bodies of toxins.
There are different points in the digestive process where enzymes are released and activated to break down what we have eaten. The stomach, small intestine, and pancreas all make digestive enzymes.
The pancreas is the enzyme “powerhouse” of digestion. The most important digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are porduced by it.
Types of Enzymes
Three main digestive enzymes work on macronutrients:
- Protease – Turns proteins into small peptides and amino acids
- Lipase – Breaks down fat into three fatty acids and glycerol
- Amylase – Breaks down carbs and starch into simple sugars
Secondary enzymes made in the small intestine, including:
- Lactase – breaks down lactose into smaller sugars
- Sucrase – breaks down sucrose into glucose and fructose
- Maltase – breaks down starch
6 Natural Digestive Enzymes
There are foods you can eat to increase your natural enzymes production to aid in digestion. Here are 6 gut friendly foods. Enjoy!