Digestion starts the moment food comes in contact with the mouth and mixes with salivary amylase, which starts to digest carbohydrates. The more one chews, the more the smaller food particles are coated with digestive enzymes. As those food particles make their way down the digestive tract, digestive enzymes along the way break down the food into important nutrients the body needs to survive and work at its optimal level. As humans age, particularly after 50, they tend to have lower levels of HCl and decreased enzyme secretion. Yet, the need to eat, digest foods and acquire nutrients and energy never fades. The aging process, an inadequate diet and past infections can impair the stomach's ability to produce stomach acid that is required for optimal digestion. Digestive aids, such as enzymes, betaine HCl and probiotics, are beneficial because they guarantee the complete breakdown and absorption of nutrients to maintain optimal health and wellness.
Enzymes are catalytic proteins that speed up chemical reactions in the body and are necessary for life. They catalyze (speed up) and regulate nearly all biochemical reactions that occur within the body. They are distributed throughout all cellular components and are usually found on the inner surface of the membranes. The location of specific enzymes depends on the site of the metabolic pathways in which these enzymes participate.
Enzymes in the digestion process divide substances into smaller compounds through a process called hydrolysis (breaking apart by water). Essentially, the process involves turning food into smaller molecules for absorption, which in turn allows for the creation of energy to sustain life. Food enzymes, however, are only provided by consuming raw foods or by supplemental enzymes. Cellulase, for example, aids in fiber digestion; yet, it cannot be made in the body and must be introduced through raw foods or supplementation. Raw foods provide only enough enzymes to digest that particular food, generally not enough to be stored for future use.
Carbohydrate Digestive Enzymes
Carbohydrate or starch-digesting enzymes are called amylases. Amylases work to digest carbs and starchy foods, such as white breads, pastas and potatoes, as well as fiber. Beta-glucanase is an enzymeÊthat helps to digestÊbeta-glucans, a non-starch polysaccharide commonly found in cereal grainsÊand many kinds of mushrooms. Hemicellulase is an enzyme, whichÊbreaks down hemicellulose, aÊcomplex carbohydrate present in almost all plant cell walls. Phytase is an enzyme, which breaks down the indigestible phytic acid (phytate) part of grains and oil seeds to allow phosphorus, calcium and other important nutrients to be absorbed. Hemicelluloses, beta-glucans and phytic acids are common in many plant foods including grains, beans and herbs and can act as anti-nutritive factors due to their tendency to bind and prevent intestinal absorption of important minerals and nutrients. These enzymes are necessary to hydrolyzeÊthese anti-nutritive factors,Êthus increasing the availability and absorption of important plant nutrients in the body.
Fat Digestive Enzymes
Lipases break down triglycerides found in oils from food to monoglycerides and free fatty acids, which are used as important sources of energy for the body and are expressed in LU units (Lipase Unit) or FCC FIP (Federation Internationale Pharmceutique).
Protein Digestive Enzymes
Proteolytic enzymes called proteases (e.g., pepsin, bromelain and papain) work to digest protein-rich foods in the small intestines, such as beans, legumes and meats. Specifically, bromelain is a mixture of proteolytic enzymes found in pineapple (Ananas comosus), while papain is a cysteine protease present in green papaya (pawpaw) fruit Ñ both of which are two of the most potent and effective protein-digesting enzymes on the market.
Patented Mixed Digestive Enzymes
CereCalase® is a patented amylase mixture of hemicellulase (breaks down cellulose, which is found in plant cell walls), beta-glucanase (breaks down beta-glucans found in grains) and phytase (breaks down indigestible phytic acid found in grains, seed and oil parts) from plant sources and available in an enzyme combination for better absorption of important plant nutrients.
n•zimesPA®, is a distinctive blend of protease, amylase and lipase fromÊplant sources. This patented mixture of enzymes efficientlyÊdigests mostÊdietary proteins, carbohydrates and fats.