Enzymes in food: what are they for?

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The enzymes present in the kiwi improve digestion and prevent constipation processes or the appearance of flatulence. What other enzymes are there? What are they for? Here we detail it.

Food enzymes are proteins that often have a digestive function. As a general rule, they serve to improve the processes of decomposition and absorption of nutrients. There are several foods rich in enzymes that are recommended in case of constipation to reduce the symptoms of this condition.

They can also function as mediators in certain chemical and physiological reactions. However, there are cases of enzymes with anti-inflammatory or even antioxidant properties. What else should we know about it? Below, we detail more on this topic.

Proteolytic Food EnzymesEnzymes in food

Some enzymes, such as actinidin, typical of kiwis, can intervene in protein breakdown, improving the absorption of amino acids. Its function is fundamentally digestive, as stated in an article published in the Food Function magazine.

However, in the scientific literature, we also find trails that link the intake of this enzyme with a reduction in constipation processes. Human studies, such as one published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, state that consuming kiwi can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as flatulence, bloating, and abdominal pain.

Another example of a proteolytic enzyme we have in pineapple. In this case, we are talking about bromelain, which shows the ability to improve protein destruction to subsequently absorb amino acids.

This fruit is famous for its diuretic and digestive qualities. Its consumption after heavy meals is recommended to reduce the symptoms associated with bloating or flatulence.

Food enzymes with anti-inflammatory powerEnzymes in food

In the case of papaya, we find an enzyme, papain, which has outstanding anti-inflammatory power. Also, it can be used in different preparations at the oral level thanks to its antimicrobial power.

According to a study published in the Brazilian Dental Journal, this enzyme can be effective against various types of caries, thanks to its power to modulate the immune response and inflammation.

Furthermore, regular consumption of papaya could be associated with the prevention of obesity and other metabolic disorders, according to an article published in the journal Nutrients.

This is mainly due to its antioxidant, antihypertensive and hypoglycemic properties. In any case, it is not known for sure if these come from papain or the other nutrients that this exotic fruit presents.

Enzymes in the supplement industry

Today, there is no evidence to show that enzyme supplementation can provide health benefits. In any case, it is common for some protein preparations to have these substances in their composition.

This is intended to reduce gastric or intestinal discomfort derived from the intake of large doses of protein. Additionally, enzymes could help reduce flatulence, which would be a major benefit.

The sports supplement industry is testing substances with different chemical structures to improve these processes at the level of nutrient absorption.

The results that have been obtained at the level of digestibility in whey protein have been positive enough for the inclusion of enzymes in high-quality protein products.

There is still a lot to study about it

The functions of enzymes may be much more than known. Its effects on allergic processes or even its relationship with the appearance of diseases are being studied.

Several in vitro models have been described, but there are still no human trials to show these results. They constitute, therefore, a field of study in the coming years, which will depend on the increase in knowledge regarding physiology.

Regarding this, we can currently recommend certain foods for the improvement of heavy digestions, such as pineapple or kiwi.

We know of other products that have certain anti-inflammatory or antioxidant capacities, but it is not clear if the enzymes have something to do with them, or simply these properties are due to the existence of flavonoids.

In any case, and by way of conclusion, we must bear in mind that the enzymes we have mentioned are found in the products of the plant kingdom. This is one more reason to recommend the intake of this type of product over processed ones, so common in current diets.

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