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The Importance Of Digestive Enzymes — an article on the Smart Living Network
April 6, 2010 at 4:48 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

The Importance Of Digestive Enzymes


Digestive Enzymes: A General Overview

Digestive enzymes serve various functions that are essential for proper digestion and overall digestive system health.Enzymes are present in every system throughout the body.Enzymes function to catalyze, amplify and accelerate, certain reactions within the body.

General Enzyme Structure and Function

Each enzyme in the digestive system has specific properties that allow for the breakdown of particular types.Each enzyme functions to catalyze specific reactions based on its chemical properties.Structure of the distinct enzyme always dictates its particular function.

Specific Digestive Enzyme Examples

There exists a vast array of digestive enzymes.The stomach and pancreas are responsible for the production of the greatest amount of enzymes within the digestive system.Listed are a few of the main digestive subparts for the stomach and pancreas, noted with the enzymes they produce and their particular function within the digestive system.


The stomach is responsible for the production of hydrochloric acid, the only acid naturally produced by the human body.It is also responsible for the production of all gastric enzymes.There are several gastric enzymes necessary for the proper digestion of food products ingested.

  • Pepsin:This is the main gastric enzyme produced by the stomach.It is a peptidase, meaning its objective is the breakdown of proteins into smaller particles for further dissolution and absorption by the small intestine.
  • Gastric Amylase:Gastric Amylase is responsible for the breakdown of starches within the stomach.
  • Gastric Lipase:Gastric Lipase is responsible for the breakdown of lipid molecules within the digestive system, particularly the stomach.


The pancreas is the principal organ responsible for the production and distribution of enzymes in the digestive system.It produces more than a dozen enzymes on a daily basis.All enzymes produced by the pancreas are not listed, but a general overview of the main enzymatic products are present.

  • Elastase: Elastase is produced for the degradation of elastin proteins in particular, but can breakdown other various proteins.
  • Nucleases: Nucleases are responsible for the degradation of nucleic acids, including DNase and RNase, elucidating their availability for use by the body.
  • Trypsin and Chymotrypsin: Both are peptidases responsible for breakdown of particular proteins.
  • Pancreatic Amylase: Pancreatic amylase degrades most carbohydrates.

Other Digestive Organs

Other digestive organs, including the oral cavity, small and large intestine, are also responsible for production and secretion of specific enzymes for the degradation of specific products.The mouth, oral cavity, is the beginning of the digestive process through mastication and the addition of saliva.The small intestine is responsible for the secretion of enzymes that degrade poly and disaccharides into monosaccharides.The large intestine is the final stage of absorption.Its main responsibility is to be a holding place for waste products until proper conditions arise for waste elimination.

Digestive Enzymes are Important

Digestive enzymes are essential to the human body for proper degradation and absorption of food products ingested. Any insufficiency in these digestive enzymes could lead to improper function of the digestive system as a whole. The body attempts to maintain proper digestive enzyme combinations, but it may be necessary to supplement the digestive system in its efforts.


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