Welcome to Enzyme University
Enzyme University is a web site designed to address the growing need for fact based information about digestive health and the positive impact enzymes can have on healthy living.
“Enzymes are substances that make life possible, the key to unlocking good health and vitality. Without enzymes our bodies would not be able to harvest the nutrients from the foods we eat. They are the manual workers that build the body from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.” -Dr. Edward Howell
What Are Enzymes?
- Enzymes Defined
- Enzymes are proteins that initiate change. The enzymes found in the human body are naturally occurring. They catalyze, or accelerate all normal biochemical reactions in the body. Enzymes are responsible for all metabolic functions and many are absolutely vital for life itself.
- Enzyme Function
- There are literally thousands of enzymes found within each cell, as well as individual body systems, such as the digestive system. Each enzyme has a highly specific function that relys on certain conditions in order to successfully operate.
- The Body's Enzymes
- The human body makes many different digestive enzymes. The digestion of food takes place in stages: beginning in the mouth then moving to the stomach, and finally into the small intestine. When food enters the upper portion of the small intestine, the pancreas provides pancreatic enzymes to further break down the food. At each step, specific enzymes break down different types of food. Final breakdown of remaining small molecules of food occurs in the lower small intestine.
Why Take Enzyme Supplements?
- Enzymes & Cooked Foods
- The enzymes naturally present in food play an important role in digestion by helping to predigest the ingested food in the upper stomach. Cooking and processing destroys the natural enzymes found in foods. This places the full digestive burden on the body, which can cause extra stress on the digestive system, leading to incomplete digestion. As a result, vital nutrients may not be released from the food for assimilation by the body.
- Enzyme Results
- Nearly every person can benefit from supplementation with enzymes. People may improve their absorption and utilization of nutrients through the use of digestive enzymes. Of course the benefits will vary, depending upon the individual’s diet and general health. Individuals in good health can expect to notice less fullness after meals, increased energy, faster emptying of the stomach contents, decreased gas, and regular bowel habits.
- Supplementation With Enzymes
- Raw foods such as fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of enzymes, but these enzymes are destroyed when the food is processed, canned, or cooked. The modern diet consists of predominantly enzyme-deficient cooked foods. Supplementation with enzymes replaces those lost in cooking, and enhances the enzymes found in raw foods. Naturally-occurring food enzymes and supplemental enzymes begin the process of digestion earlier in the digestive tract. In the absence of supplemental enzymes, the bulk of digestion occurs in the small intestine. The chance of undigested food entering the colon is increased. Incomplete digestion of food gives colon bacteria the opportunity to feed, producing gas and toxins that can leave people feeling uncomfortable and even sick.
- What are Supplemental Digestive Enzymes?
- Digestive enzymes help break down food into smaller particles. The human body naturally makes Digestive enzymes, but the body often does not produce enough enzymes (or the complete spectrum) required for proper digestion. When this is the case, supplemental enzymes can help.
Digestive Enzyme Categories
- 3 Primary Categories
- Digesting different types of food require different kinds of enzymes. There are three basic groups, or categories of enzymes that help digest fats, proteins and carbohydrates:
- 1. Lipases
- Break down fats such as those found in olive oil, fish oil, cooking oils, butter, cheese, and meat.
- 2. Proteases
- Break down protein found in meats, nuts, cheese and grains such as whole wheat.
- 3. Carbohydrases
- break down starches, polysaccharides, sugars, and fiber as are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and snack foods.
How do Enzymes Aid in Digestion?
- Digestive Enzymes
- No matter what specific foods we eat, our diets are composed of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Digestive enzymes break down protein, carbohydrates, and fats into progressively smaller components. Enzyme supplements normally contain amylase, protease, and lipase. Cellulase, lactase, malt diastase, invertase (sucrase), glucoamylase, bromelain, and papain may also be included in digestive products. These enzymes increase the level of digestion in the stomach, increasing the amount of food broken down. Therefore less undigested food is passed into the colon, and food nutrients are more available for absorption.
- Do Enzymes Survive in the Stomach?
- The belief that stomach pH destroys all supplemental enzymes is erroneous. Food often remains in the upper region of the stomach for as long as an hour. Much of the digestive activity of supplemental enzymes occurs during this time before food becomes mixed with the digestive secretions. While the pH of these digestive secretions is quite low (pH 1.0 - 1.5), when mixed with food, the pH of the mixture can typically range from pH 2.5 - 5.0. In this environment, microbial enzymes are not harmed; in fact, many function optimally under these conditions.
- Enzyme Measurements Explained
- Enzymes are best measured not by their weight but by the work they are capable of doing. This is usually expressed in some form of activity unit as a measure of potency. Many enzymes can be assayed using methods that are internationally recognized. Use of these recognized assay procedures ensures that the methodology utilized can be reproduced to verify accuracy and legitimacy of the assay. Most microbial and plant enzymes used in dietary supplements are measured according to Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) assays.