Digestive enzymes are important in breaking down foods so that they can be easily absorbed or eliminated by the body. All enzymes catalyze reactions, which means they decrease the energy needed for a reaction to occur. Without enzymes, it could take hundreds or even thousands of years before the chemical reactions in your body could finish. Your enzymes are functioning for the production and breakdown of various biochemical molecules needed by your cells.
There are four main organs that manufacture and secrete digestive enzymes in your body. The salivary glands in your mouth produce amylase, which breaks down starch. Your stomach produces proteases to break down proteins. Your pancreas produces lipase, which breaks down fat. Your small intestine produces cholecystokinin and somatostatin, which also enhance food digestion. Nevertheless, the following healthy digestive enzymes facilitate weight loss.
Amylase breaks down starch and other carbohydrates into the basic unit glucose. When starch is properly digested, the body is able to use glucose as a fuel rather than storing it in its fat deposits. Therefore, proper digestion of carbohydrates with amylase can contribute to weight loss.
Like amylase, cellulase also breaks down carbohydrates, in the form of cellulose. Cellulose is present in fiber. By breaking down fiber, it facilitates the antioxidant and cleansing actions of the soluble fiber. It has been theorized that free radicals also contribute to weight gain by making the metabolic processes less efficient and promoting the deposition of fat. Therefore, the antioxidant function of cellulase decreases the free radicals present in the body and prevents weight gain. It also helps in the efficient removal of heavy metals, toxins and cholesterol from the body.
Lipase is an enzyme capable of breaking down fats. When fat is properly broken down, there are fewer chances for it to be deposited in your circulatory system and abdomen. Note that excess fat deposition in your blood vessels can lead to atherosclerosis, which has the complications of heart attack and stroke. Excess deposition of fat in your abdomen also increases your chances of these complications.
As a digestive enzyme, lactase is the main player in the breakdown of the milk sugar, lactose, into glucose. Like amylase, lactase helps the body absorb and use glucose more efficiently. Milk and other dairy products contain lactose. Without lactase, you will develop lactose intolerance and cannot consume milk products.
Maltase is an enzyme that digests maltose, a carbohydrate present in malt and other grains, into glucose. Glucose is then used as a fuel by the body.
Sucrase is responsible for breaking down sucrose, a carbohydrate present in many foods. The effect of sucrase is similar to amylase, lactase and maltase in that it digests sucrose to produce glucose, which is then used as a fuel.
Protease breaks down proteins, and thus helps the body by removing excess proteins. It also promotes nitrogen balance, because your body’s main source of nitrogen is protein. Proteases are also important in the breakdown of foreign molecules, bacteria and viruses that attack the body, because these usually are enclosed within a protein covering.