An enzyme is considered to be a biological catalyst, that enhances a biochemical reaction in the body or provide a suitable environment for it to happen. The digestive system comprises of a gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) that begins from mouth to anus, liver and pancreas. This system is responsible for ingestion, breakdown, absorption of food and excretion of undigested food particles. These actions need digestive enzymes to take place. Every portion of the gut has its own specific set of enzymes that act on specific kind of nutrient and cause its breakdown and absorption.
These are a few important enzymes in the digestive system. Alpha galactosidase is located in the small intestine and causes breakdown of complex carbohydrates. Amylase is present in two locations. One is salivary amylase which is secreted in the mouth by salivary glands. The other is pancreatic amylase that is secreted by the pancreas. It causes breakdown of starch into oligosaccharides. Disaccharideses are located in the brush border of small intestines. They cause breakdown of sugar like lactose, sucrose and maltose. Lipases are secreted by the pancreas and cause breakdown of lipids into triglycerides. Proteases are a set of enzymes located in various places in the GIT, particularly the brush border of small intestines where they cause breakdown of oligopeptides and dipeptides into amino acids. Pepsin is a protease secreted by the stomach and needs the low pH in this part to be activated.
These important chemicals of our gut can become deficient due to several reasons. It may be due to old age where the simple wear and tear of organs causes deficiency of enzymes. Some enzymes may also be absent due to a genetic deficiency. Sometimes disease may also cause their loss. Some functional diseases like irritable bowel syndrome also cause similar symptoms to enzyme deficiency and thus, these people may also benefit from supplements.
Overall, they have a positive contribution to metabolism of food and energy production. This has a positive effect on general well-being. A lack of digestive enzymes can result in a large variety of sign and symptoms such as lack of energy and frequent tiredness. This is one of the first symptoms to appear due to an obvious energy deficit. Bloating, indigestion, heartburn or gas may also be experienced. Constipation and diarrhea are common symptoms. You may also note hair fall or thinning out of hair. Headaches or migraines, depression, and mood swings can occur. Weight gain and food cravings are also commonly observed.
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