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Why Enzymes are Important for Good Health?

by: Garry Nixon

Enzymes are a type of protein which helps to catalyze a chemical reaction. Individual enzymes have unique chemical structures which can speed up the reaction of specific substrates. All body functions involve enzymes including digestion, respiration, transportation and detoxification. If some critical enzymes experience deficiency or malfunction it can lead to serious illness or death.

There are two types of enzymes which are particularly important to our health, the digestive and antioxidant enzymes. Digestive enzymes help to break down food, enabling our body to absorb the nutrients necessary to sustain life. Antioxidant enzymes help to protect the body from attack by free radicals. Free radicals are linked to degenerative diseases such as aging, cancer, heart disease and other major illnesses.

There are three further categories for digestive enzymes: amylase, protease and lipase. Saliva, pancreatic and intestinal secretions contain amylases. These work to break down sugars or carbohydrates. There are different types of amylase which break down different types of sugar. For example, there is lactase which helps to break down lactose while sucrase helps to break down sucrose. Stomach acid as well as pancreatic and intestinal secretions contain proteases which help to break proteins down into amino acids. Lipases are found within pancreatic and intestinal secretions which help to digest fat.

Superoxide dismutase or SOD is the most important antioxidant enzymes in our body along with catalase. SOD helps to breakdown superoxide into hydrogen peroxide while catalase helps to breakdown hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. SOD, catalase and other antioxidant enzymes are more powerful free radical scavengers than Vitamin C and E since they won’t turn into free radicals themselves while performing their functions.

Our body naturally synthesizes both digestive and antioxidant enzymes. You can find these enzymes in a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, sprouts and fat containing foods. Although enzymes are sensitive to heat and therefore are destroyed by cooking. Several studies have shown that our body’s ability to produce these enzymes decreases as we age. This is why enzyme supplements can help the elderly or those who eat mostly cooked food to assimilate more nutrients from their foods and protect them against free radical damage.

Remember to read the label carefully when purchasing enzyme supplements. First consider the source of the enzymes; whether they are plant-based, animal-based or extracted from microbes. Vegetarians want to find enzymes that are extracted from a plant or microbial source in a vegetarian capsule. Next you want to consider whether the enzyme supplement is made up of a single enzyme or a mixture of enzymes. Single enzyme supplements like bromelain can also be used for other purposes such as anti-inflammatory. If you need the enzymes for a digestive aid then it is better to use a mixture of enzymes including amylase, protease, and lipase which can help break down starch, protein and fat. Also having a mixture of antioxidant enzymes such as SOD and catalase can give you better benefits than a single enzyme.

Learn more on enzymes at Weight Loss Wand

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