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What are Digestive Enzymes?

Digestive enzymes help our bodies absorb nutrients from our meals which means you can have the healthiest diet ever, but if you’re not absorbing the nutrients from those foods, it won’t matter a bit. They’re what help turn ordinary food into the building blocks our bodies use every day.

Where do Digestive Enzymes Live?

Digestive enzymes are not just in our stomachs - they are secreted by several different glands in our digestive system including salivary, stomach, pancreas and in the small intestines.

Types of Digestive Enzymes

Here’s a little “breakdown” on the enzymes that break down our food:
  • Amylase is found in our salivary glands and puts starch to work. A good reason to enjoy complex carbs is the fact that they can provide our bodies with B-vitamins and other energizing nutrients. Amylase helps make sure we absorb the benefits.
  • Protease is the group of enzymes that make proteins productive. Proteins hold the building blocks of our bodies—amino acids. In order to pull apart proteins in the digestive tract, we need proteases.
  • Lipase is the group of enzymes that helps you get the best from fats. You’re gonna eat some fats, and that’s a good thing. Fats—especially the healthy kind—contain vitamins and other nutrients that help build our bodies and fuel our minds. Lipase is an enzyme that breaks down fats so you gain the positives from those plus-size calories.
  • Phytase and Cellulase break down plants. Although the fiber in plants continues on through your digestive tract, the benefits of these foods are worth considering. Phytase breaks down phytates, the carbohydrate part of the plant that houses beneficial nutrients.† For instance, spinach contains vitamin A and K, plus iron and other minerals. As for the fiber component, cellulase breaks down cellulose—the structural part of the plant—to help move it through your system.
  • Lactase is found in the small intestine and helps you get the most from milk and other dairy foods.If you’ve heard of lactose intolerance or have experienced it yourself, it may be because you need a little extra boost in lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the potentially problematic sugar from milk.
  • Sucrase is found in the small intestine and breaks down the sugar sucrose, and helps your body put it to good use as energy.
Published January 14, 2011
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