As we know from our earlier article on enzymes, that enzymes play a decisive role in food digestion by playing a role in the chemical changes (breaking up of carbohydrates, fats and proteins or converting complex substances into simple ones for intestines) undergone by food during digestion. Enzymes also help in the utilisation of simple substances for building up new tissues and producing energy.
Enzymes are very specific and do the particular job only. Thus it becomes important to identify the enzymes, its chemistry and the working requirements. Some of the important and known enzymes are:
- Ptyalin: Just like starting of digestion process from the mouth, Ptyalin enzyme also gets attached to food by saliva. Ptyalin initiates the breakdown of carbohydrates by converting starches into simple sugars. To help ptyalin to carry out its functions easily we need to have thorough mastication of starchy food inside the mouth. Ptyalin needs ideally an alkaline or neutral environment. The working of ptyalin is inactivated by the highly acid gastric juices in the stomach. Also, it gives time to the substrate (reacting molecule) to bind in the active site of the enzyme.
- Pepsin: Pepsin enzyme is required for protein digestion and it works with the gastric juices to break proteins into absorbable amino acids or peptides. Pepsin, in combination with hydrochloric acid, starts the protein breakdown.
- Rennin: Rennin has a vital role to play in infant's It curdles milk and allows the pepsin to work upon it.
Similarly, we have many important enzymes like:
- Lactase: for breakdown of lactose
- Sucrase: for breakdown of complex sugars and starches
Sources of Enzymes:
Enzymes can be found in the food we eat. Raw foods contain enzymes in abundance. Processes of cooking, pasteurizing, smoking, pickling, and other food processing activities are likely to take away or alter the natural qualities of enzymes, i.e. denature.
Thus, it is important to have a substantial amount of raw foods like fruits, salads, and sprouts in or diet. It not just helps in supplying the essential enzymes but also protects us from early worn out or tiredness. Enzyme capsules are also available, mainly with a vegetable base or gelatin base.
If you have digestion issues, it is important to identify the reasons. If it is because of deficiency of certain enzymes, we can identify the fruits, vegetables or sprouts which can be beneficial for you to have before food, usually 20-30 minutes. It is equally important to identify the inhibitors, as they distort the active sites of the enzyme, thus preventing substrate binding at active sites of enzymes.