Enzymes In Digestion: 9 Interesting Facts

In this article we are focusing on the topic “Enzymes in Digestion: 9 Interesting Facts”. We are giving the detailed facts and the statements that depicts the functions of enzymes in digestion.

There are variety of naturally occurring digestive enzymes that are found in animals, humans and also in plants. Digestive enzymes play a crucial role in the digestion of food containing carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and other nutrients and the end product is consumed by the cells to perform variety of functions.

Without digestive enzymes we could be prone to many different gastric issues, these are together called gastrointestinal symptoms. The body starts digesting the food as soon as you take them, beginning from the mouth and end in the small intestine. The greatest share of work of digestion is done in pancreas.

Enzymes in digestion of carbohydrates

Types of Digestive Enzymes Image from Wikipedia

Carbohydrates are present in almost all the fruits such as, bread, cookies, drinks, potatoes, popcorn, milk, vegetables rich in starch, nuts, legumes, yogurts, sauces, grains, pasta, etc. They are found in variety of forms, the most common ones are, starch, cellulose, and fibers. Carbohydrate rich foods are also used as an energy food during low glucose conditions.

The most common enzymes which are actively involved in the digestion of carbohydrates are Amylases, Maltase, and Lactase. Digestion of carbohydrates starts from the mouth by salivary amylase which is present in the saliva. Sugars are broken down mechanically by chewing ad then chemically by the active participation of certain enzymes.

enzymes in digestion
Carbohydrate metabolism Image from Wikipedia

Enzymes in digestion of lipids.

Lipids can be solids or liquid, solid such as fats and liquids such as oils. Common dietary oils are olive, canola, peanut, sunflower oil, etc. Lipids are found in both plants and animals. The most common form of lipids is triacylglycerols or TAG which form 99% of all the lipids found in plants and animals. Types of lipids include, triglycerides, sterols and phospholipids.

The enzymes involved in the digestion of lipids are known as lipases. Lipids are digested mainly in the mouth and stomach. Lipids digestion starts in mouth when it comes in contact with saliva. Triacylglycerols are broken into fatty acids and diglycerides. Small intestine plays a major role in digesting lipids. Sterols are adsorbed in intestine with the help of Niemann-Pick C1 like 1 (NPC1L1).

Lipid metabolism Image from Wikipedia

Enzymes in digestion of protein

Digestion of proteins starts with the mouth when we chew the food mechanically and then these are passed into the stomach where the acidic pH helps in further degradation of proteins by the activation of certain enzymes such as, lipases and proteases. Lipases catalysis the breakdown of lipids and fats, while the proteases work on proteins, including peptides.

The stomach contains the acidic pH because of the secretion of hydrochloric acid which is helpful in breakdown the foods rich in proteins and fats into amino acids, fatty acids and sterols. Trypsin is one of the main protein degrading enzymes, they are also known as endopeptidases. Endopeptidases and exopeptidases are proteolytic enzymes.

Protein digesting enzymes Image from Wikimedia

Do enzymes are involved in digestion?

Yes, a variety of enzymes are involved in digestion. Enzymes are highly significant in digestion of carbohydrates, lipids, fats, and proteins. Digestive enzymes are made in, mouth, stomach, small intestine and the organs involved in digestive system. Digestion of food is necessary for the absorption of required nutrients, vitamins and energy needed for the cells to function.

What happens when we lack digestive enzymes?

The insufficiency of digestive enzymes could to lead to serious conditions such as malnutrition, nutrient deficiencies, vitamin deficiencies and other gastrointestinal issues. Symptoms of insufficient enzymes include, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, presence of undigested food in stools.

Other symptoms of lack of digestion involves, poor coordination of muscles, brain degeneration, trouble focusing and concentration, loss of muscle tone, difficulty in swallowing and feeding, having sensitivity to touch, speech problem, enlarged liver and spleen, weight gain and lack of energy.

How do enzymes are involved in digestion?

Enzymes are extremely important for the digestion of food we intake. Lack of digestive enzymes could lead to a lot of serious complications inside body. Digestive enzymes play an important role in speeding up the chemical reactions involved in the digestion of various food materials, which are broken down and then the nutrients are absorbed by the cells for energy and for proper functioning.

Digestive enzymes are secreted in mouth, stomach, pancreas, small intestine, liver and gallbladder. Enzymes helps in performing various tasks inside the cells, such as, building muscle, destroy toxins and break down large food particles and the end products are used as building blocks or are absorbed by the cells as the energy source.

Where enzymes are used in digestion?

Mouth, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, and liver all are involved in the production of digestive enzymes. The pancreas plays a major part in the digestion and secrete enzymes involved in the digestion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The digestive enzymes are classified and named based on the reaction they catalyze.

LipasePancreatic juice
Ribonuclease and deoxyribonucleasepancreas
MaltaseSmall intestine
EndopeptidaseStomach and small intestine
DipeptidaseSmall intestine
Table showing the Types of Enzymes with their Sources

What enzymes are used in Digestion?

There are several different types of enzymes which play crucial roles in digestion and are secreted in different organs of digestive system. They are classified and named based on the function they are performing inside the cells. Types of enzymes that are involved in digestion are as following;

AmylaseAmylases catalysis the breakdown of complex carbohydrates into small glucose molecules.
LipaseLipase works its action on fat containing foods and break them down to fatty acids and diglycerides.
ProteaseProtease helps in breaking down proteins into amino acids.
NucleaseThey digest nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA.
LactaseLactase feeds on lactose, which is present in curd and yogurt.
PeptidasesThey break down denatured proteins into small individual amino acids.
Table showing examples of Digestive Enzymes

Role of enzymes in digestion?

The key role that enzymes play in digestion is to break down the food we intake, which usually consists of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, etc. Enzymes catalysis the chemical reactions involved in breaking down foods into a form that can be absorbed by the cells to perform the vital functions. Basic digestive enzymes include, lipase, carbohydrase and proteases.

Enzymes are proteins which are necessary to maintain the body metabolism and overall health of an individual. Digestion of food is a chemical process where the food we intake is broken down first mechanically by chewing and then chemically with the help of several enzymes in different body parts. The end products of digestion are minerals, nutrients, vitamins, building blocks such as amino acids and energy, which are absorbed by the cells or transported into the blood to maintain homeostasis.


To conclude the article, we can say that enzymes are highly significant that helps in the digestion of food and in the absence of enzymes the body can be prone to different types of gastric problems and many diseases. Hence, the presence of enzymes is crucial for the cells to function properly and to maintain the life.

Sneha Sah

Hey! I am Sneha Sah, I have completed post graduation in Biotechnology. Science has always been fascinating to me and writing is my passion. As an academic writer my aim is to make Science easy and simple to learn and read. Reach me at- Snehashah14111996@gmail.com

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