Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Serious Medicine. Extraordinary Care.

Enzymes

Digestion begins in the mouth where we physically break down foods with our tongue and teeth. The food particles then travel to the stomach where they are further digested by the acidic stomach juices. As food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine, several digestive fluids are added. These fluids contain enzymes, which aid in the digestive process.

For example, the pancreas secretes three enzymes into the small intestine: amylase, protease, and lipase. These enzymes are also produced by the intestinal wall. Each of these enzymes have special binding spots called receptors that help it match with and bind to a particular type of nutrient.

For example, amylase digests carbohydrates such as the starches found in potatoes and pasta. Proteases help the body break down protein found in foods such as meat into tiny building blocks that can then be used to build and maintain the body's tissues. And lipases help the body break down fats and oils.

We also get important enzymes from the foods we eat. Many people believe that modern cooking practices and food processing eliminates enzymes naturally produced in foods. Enzyme supplements can be taken, however, it is important to let your physician to know what enzyme supplements and vitamins that you are taking.