Digestive enzymes are proteins produced by the digestive glands that help break down macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) into smaller by-products, making food easier to digest and absorb. Each enzyme is specific to a type of macronutrient and plays a unique role in breaking them down in the gut.
There are several types of digestive enzymes
• Amylase: digests carbohydrates
Amylase is a digestive enzyme that helps digest carbohydrates. It is produced by saliva and the pancreas and breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars, such as starches before reaching the small intestine. This process makes the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates easier.
• Protease: digests proteins
Protease is an enzyme that hydrolyzes (breaks down) proteins. Various organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, animals, and plants, for various purposes, such as the digestion of proteins in the intestine or the regulation of cellular proteins produce it.
• Lipase: digests fats
Lipase is an enzyme that hydrolyzes lipids, i.e. fats. Lipase is produced by various organs, such as the pancreas and intestines, and contributes to the digestion of fats and the absorption of their metabolic products.
• Lactase: digests milk sugar (lactose)
Lactase is an enzyme that hydrolyzes lactose, a sugar in milk, into glucose and galactose. Some people lack this enzyme and therefore suffer from lactose intolerance. Lactase is produced by intestinal cells in the small intestine. The production of lactase depends on the presence of lactose in the diet and can increase or decrease according to the lactose intake.