The Importance of Digestive Enzymes and Symptoms of Enzyme Deficiency
The Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract
The gastrointestinal tract, also known as the alimentary canal or the digestive system, including all accessory organs, is a complex system responsible for the digestion, absorption, and elimination of food products. Food travels through the digestive system in the following order:
- Small intestine
- Large intestine
The Gastrointestinal Tract Accessory Organs
The digestive system requires certain accessory organs for the production of enzymes. These accessory organs to the digestive system are listed below. The liver and pancreas are responsible for enzyme production and secretion, where the gall bladder serves as a storage system.
Digestive System Functions
The digestive system functions to digest, absorb, and eliminate food products. The process of digestion occurs in two ways, mechanical and chemical digestion. Mechanical digestion includes functions such as mastication (chewing) and peristalsis. Chemical digestion involves the chemical break down of complex molecules (fats, carbohydrates and proteins) into smaller molecules that can be absorbed. Enzymes are responsible for this chemical break down.
Digestive Enzymes: Important?
The process of digestion is not possible without the aid of digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes are necessary to catalyze reactions within the digestive system. Catalysis is necessary mechanism that makes reactions that are typically unfavorable, favorable. Unfavorable reactions do not occur without the presence of something to make them favorable first. This is why digestive enzymes are critical. Digestive enzymes make the digestion of foods possible. If foods are not properly digested, the foods are not properly absorbed. Absorption of vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and essential amino acids is critical for all metabolic function.
Metabolic functions are vast within the bodily systems. The entire body depends on metabolic functions. Metabolic functions include reproduction, growth and structural maintenance, and environmental response mechanisms. It is not possible to survive without proper metabolic functions.
Symptoms of Digestive Enzyme Deficiencies
There exist certain signs and symptoms of digestive enzyme deficiencies you can look for. Signs and symptoms of digestive enzyme deficiencies are listed. This list is limited, and symptoms vary based on the individual and their specific circumstances.
- Abdominal pain
Risk Factors for Enzyme Deficiencies
Certain conditions also put certain individuals at higher risk levels for the development of enzyme deficiencies. The following is a list of conditions associated with increased risk of enzyme deficiency development. While associations exist, there are commonly other factors that contribute to the development of these conditions. Scientific evidence is limited as to the degree of contribution enzyme deficiency plays in these conditions.
- Back weakness/pain
- Bladder problems
- Cold hands/feet
- Gum disorders
- Hot flashes
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Sinus infections
- Skin problems/rash
- Urinary problems/weakness