Enzymes and Digestion
Digestion in the Mouth
Food is chewed in the mouth and saliva is mixed with the
food. The saliva is made up of mucus that serves as a
lubricant, an alkaline electrolyte solution that
moistens the food, amylase, an enzyme that initiates the
digestion of starch, lingual lipase, an enzyme that
begins the digestion of fat and protease, which digests
Most carbohydrates are broken down here by the process
of chewing the food that hopefully had its own viable
enzymes to be mixed with the enzymes mentioned above.
Without enzymes we could not digest food, could not
breath, could not think; enzymes sustain our life.
There are hundreds of thousands of biochemical reactions
that take place in our bodies that use enzymes as a
catalyst. Without enzymes these reactions would move to
slowly to sustain life. The food we eat contains
enzymes that assist our digestive processes when we eat
that particular food. When you see food decomposing (a
banana turning brown) it is the work of the enzymes
contained in the food plus those that are brought to the
food by insects or air born spores.
Enzymes in our bodies are divided into two groups and
created by our cells: digestive enzymes and metabolic
enzymes. There are three types of digestive enzymes
amylase, protease and lipase. Amylase, found in saliva,
pancreatic and intestinal juices; breaks down
carbohydrates (sugars). Protease, found in stomach,
pancreatic and intestinal juices; helps digest
proteins. Lipase, found in stomach and pancreatic
juices also enters the body via food we eat; breaks down
Lipase: Is an enzyme that digests fats, helping to
maintain correct gall bladder function. Protease: Is a
digestive enzyme that digests proteins and may be
helpful for people with food allergies. Amylase: Works
great for digesting starches and carbohydrates and may
be useful for people with gluten sensitivities.
Metabolic enzymes catalyze chemical reactions within the
cells of the body providing us with energy production
and detoxification. These enzymes run all the bodies'
organs, tissues and cells. They build the body from
proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
The main areas we need to concern ourselves with are
digestive enzymes. We produce less of these enzymes as
we get older, plus cooking (over 118 degrees F)
pasteurization and irradiation destroy enzymes that come
to us in our foods. This is why it is so important that
we eat a diet that contains 75% fruit and vegetables
(the majority of these should be raw) and about 25% high
protein meat, dairy, and whole grain products.
You can also find digestive enzyme complex products that
can help you get full nutritional value from the food
you eat. Be cautious, some of these can contain
products from slaughtered animals that will bring toxins
with them, read the label look for the word bovine.
Ask the person at the health food store for plant
enzymes I have found these to be the best.
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, James Balch, M.D.
and Phyllis Balch, CNC, Avery Books 2000
Enzymes The Fountain of Life, D.A. Lopez, MD, R.M.
Williams, MD PhD, K. Miehlke, MD,
The Neville Press, Inc 1994