by Melissa Chichester
It takes a lot of work to break food down into simpler forms. When food is eaten, your digestive system ensures that food breaks down and that vitamins, proteins, and other compounds are directed to where they need to be in the body.
Digestive enzymes help break down the nutritional components of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to help increase nutrient absorption.*
After break down, the nutrients are available for use in the body’s vital functions. In essence, enzymes help create important chemical reactions in the body.
Your body naturally makes digestive enzymes. The stomach, small intestines, and mouth all make digestive enzymes. With age, the body may produce less of certain enzymes, which may affect the digestive process. Let’s take a look at three popular digestive enzymes.
Papaya is a nourishing and delicious tropical fruit that contains a digestive enzyme called papain. Papain and members of the papain family are found in many places, including plants, animals, and yeast. In the papaya plant, papain can be found in the leaves, fruit, and roots of the plant.
Papaya is native to Central and South America, where papain has been used for centuries as a meat tenderizer because it breaks down difficult proteins. There are also meat tenderizers sold with papain in them.
Papain is known as a proteolytic enzyme, and in the body, it is made in the stomach and pancreas. Proteolytic enzymes play an important role in protein digestion.*
You can get papain from supplements and enzyme blends, or by consuming papaya fruit.
Another beneficial proteolytic enzyme is bromelain, which comes from pineapples. Bromelain is found in the fruit, skin, and juice of the pineapple plant. Pineapple is native to South America, where it has been used for centuries to support health and wellness.*
As a supplement, bromelain is suitable for vegetarians and acts as a natural digestive enzyme.*
Bromelain also helps digest protein in the gastrointestinal tract.*
Lactase is an enzyme that is essential for digesting milk, responsible for breaking down lactose, a sugar in milk. Without lactase, people have trouble properly digesting or processing dairy products. This occurs when people do not produce the lactase enzyme in the small intestine, and it causes occasional gastrointestinal distress and discomfort. Lactase supplements support digestive health with the lactase enzyme.* Supplementing with the lactase enzyme can make milk more readily digestible to your system.*