Digestion, General | June 27, 2014 | Author: The Super Pharmacist
Digestive enzymes are natural substances produced by the body to help break down and digest food. They are primarily produced in the pancreas and small intestine, but they are also made in the saliva glands and stomach.
Insufficient amounts of digestive enzymes can interfere with the breakdown and absorption of food and nutrients.
Digestive enzymes can be divided into four classes: protease, lipase, amylase and gelatinase.
Proteases: Proteases break down proteins. This includes proteins in meat, dairy and plant sources.
Proteases produced in the pancreas are trypsin and chymotrypsin. Both enzymes are released into the small intestines during digestion to break down proteins into single amino acids.
Proteases are also found in pineapple (bromelain) and papaya (papain).
Lipases: Lipases break down triglycerides (fats) into fatty acids and glycerol. Once broken down, fatty acids can be absorbed by the body and used for energy. Lipase is produced in the pancreas and liver, but also in the mouth and stomach.
Lipase supplements are recommended for individuals with Crohn's disease, celiac disease and cystic fibrosis.
Amylases: Amylases break down carbohydrates into a simple carbohydrate, maltose. Amylases are found in the saliva and are also produced in the pancreas and secreted into the small intestine to continue the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose.
Gelatinases: Gelatinases are proteolytic enzymes that hydrolyse gelatin into its sub-compounds: polypeptides, peptides, and amino acids.
Even healthy individuals can experience greater digestive comfort with the aid of digestive enzyme supplements. A double-blind, crossover study confirms the efficacy of digestive enzyme supplements in optimising digestion. Healthy volunteers consumed a high-calorie, high-fat meal, either with pancreatic enzyme capsules or with placebo. Gastrointestinal symptoms were recorded for the next 17 hours. Pancreatic enzyme supplements significantly reduced bloating, gas, and the feeling of fullness.
Digestive enzymes act locally in the gastrointestinal tract and are not absorbed. Occasional adverse effects from supplemental digestive enzymes include nausea, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Contraindications to their use include hypersensitivity to any component, acute pancreatitis or acute exacerbation of chronic pancreatitis.
Prescription enzymes are recommended since they are better regulated than over the counter products. The FDA ensures that the manufacturing process of prescription enzymes is consistent and that products are safe and effective.
Non-prescription enzymes, on the other hand, are labeled as dietary supplements by the FDA, and follow a different set of regulations. Contamination is a cause for concern with over the counter enzymes due to inconsistencies in the manufacturing process.
Selecting a trusted brand is important for over-the-counter digestive enzymes.
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