Any enzyme that breaks down protein into its building blocks, amino acids, is called a
protease, which is a general term. Your digestive tract produces a number of
these enzymes, but the three main proteases are pepsin, trypsin and chymotrypsin.
As we age, our pancreas produces less of the protease enzymes necessary for
breaking down protein. This deficiency leaves protein molecules or fragments
undigested, leading to a host of potentially toxic molecules. Worst of all, undigested
protein has been associated with colon cancer.
The body produces protease in the pancreas, but the pancreas doesn’t produce protease in a
working condition. Instead, the protease produced in the pancreas has to be activated by
another enzyme found in the intestine. Only after it is activated by the other enzyme, can the
protease go to work breaking down protein.
The enzymes in the small intestine work best in alkaline conditions – but the food becomes
acidic after being in the stomach. … it neutralizes the acid – providing the alkaline conditions
needed in the small intestine. it emulsifies fats – providing a larger surface area over which
the lipase enzymes can work.
Fortunately, using supplemental proteases eases the body’s burden of producing these
complex enzymes entirely on its own. Research has shown that animals supplemented
with proteases experienced enhanced digestion. In humans, supplementation with
protease reduced the allergenic potential of meat products.
In addition, protease supplementation may be useful in reducing the symptoms
associated with gluten and casein intolerances.
Supplementing With Digestive Enzymes
Adding enzymes to the diet is not a new idea. It’s been over 70 years since scientists
first noted that supplementary enzymes could restore rapid digestion of foods in the
Since then, human studies have confirmed the beneficial effects from various types of
digestive enzyme supplements. For example, in a larger, placebo-controlled study,
patients taking a digestive enzyme supplement reported fewer episodes of abdominal
pain, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, bloating, flatulence, and appetite loss than those not
taking the supplement.
Each major food group has specific enzymes responsible for its breakdown. A
deficiency in any one of these enzymes can lead to a wide range of common intestinal
For optimal digestion, it is important to consider supplementing with digestive
enzymes that assist in the breakdown of all classes of food, including starch, proteins,
fats, cellulose, and milk.
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