Enzymes are bio-catalysts that are produced by organisms to break down complex food substances into simple, absorbable ones.
Various enzymes found in different organisms are responsible for the conversion of different food groups such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats into their constituents.
Enzymes function optimally at a specific temperature and pH level; 32 degree celsius and a neutral medium of around 7 pH.
Variation from these conditions leads to the inactivation or denaturation of these enzymes. Some of the common enzymes found in foodstuff consumed by the Indian household are as follows :
- Proteases break proteins into their building blocks – amino acids
- Amylases break starch into simple sugars.
- Lactase, Sucrase & Maltase break lactose, sucrose and maltose into glucose and other simple sugars.
- Lipases break fats down into fatty acids and glycerol.
Some of the foods containing these bioactive catalysts which are essential to the process of digestion in the human body include:
Avocados are a type of fruit that contain a high amount of healthy fats and low amounts of sugar. They contain an enzyme known as lipase which facilitates the breakdown of fats into fatty acids and glycerol, which are simple substances that can be easily absorbed and assimilated by our body. They also contain polyphenol oxidase.
Did you know that kiwi is a type of berry? This berry contains a protease known as actinidin – it aids in the digestion of many proteins and can be commercially used to tenderize typically tough meats such as beef. It may also digest soy protein and wheat protein (gluten) in the human stomach.
Papaya is a tropical fruit that is rich in a digestive enzyme known as papain. This enzyme is also commercially used as a meat tenderizer as well as a digestive supplement. If the enzyme is exposed to heat, it denatures and does not function as well as it would at the optimal temperature.
Ginger is commonly used to flavor dishes in households across the globe. This root contains a protease known as zingibain which isn’t usually used to tenderize meats as it has a short shelf – life. Ginger is also known to stimulate the production of amylases and lipases in our own stomach, which is why it often cures digestive disorders.
Pineapple is yet another tropical fruit that contains several protein-digesting enzymes found as a combination known as bromelain. Consuming this fruit raw is the best way to derive the optimum benefits provided by the enzymes.
Mango is a favorite for many – we eagerly anticipate its arrival during the summer season. It contains amylases, which is responsible for the breakdown of carbohydrates. As the fruit ripens, the activity of the enzyme increases, this is why it becomes sweeter, too. The starch is broken down into sugars.
Apricot is a stone fruit that contains a digestive enzyme known as invertase, which is responsible for breaking down the fruit sugar into simple, absorbable substances that can be utilized by the body to quickly derive energy. Invertase is used by industries to hydrolyze sucralose and manufacture plasticizing agents that are used in the cosmetic and paper industries.
This precious nectar obtained from flowers by hardworking bees is filled with numerous compounds beneficial to the human gut. It contains enzymes such as diastases, amylases, invertases, and proteases. These enzymes are specific to and catalyze the reaction of breaking various substances such as sugars, carbohydrates and proteins down. Raw honey is the best source for all these enzymes.
Bhookha Haathi’s range of raw, organic and infused honey is a great source of natural digestive enzymes that you can get from natural sources. Choose from 34 different varieties of honey to suit your taste.
Written by: Jahnabee Adhikari
Jahnabee is a part-time blogger, full-time dog lover. She believes that writing actually possesses the potential to change the world. She can be often found fantasizing about poetry or buried nose-deep in a Sudha Murthy novel.