What Are Enzymes & What Do They Do?

Enzymes make metabolism possible. Enzymes are defined as protein catalysts because they are made up of amino acids the same as proteins. A catalyst is a substance that triggers a chemical reaction so that it might proceed under different conditions such as at a lower temperature. For example, the air is a catalyst for fire. Enzymes are the catalysts for the biochemical reactions in living organisms.

Enzymes occur naturally in all living things. They are important in all systems of your body…digestive, nervous, respiratory, muscular, cardiovascular, endocrine, lymphatic, skeletal, urinary, reproductive and immune.

They are very specific and unique. Enzymes contain energy and the enzymes work until that energy is exhausted. Metabolism is a complex series of chemical reactions and is present in all life processes. Without enzymes metabolism would occur far too slowly.

One researcher found ninety-eight enzymes working in the arteries. Since 1968, at least thirteen hundred enzymes have been identified.

A protein molecule in actuality is only the carrier of enzyme activity. In experiments described in Chemical Reviews (1933), the activity of one protein molecule was transferred over to another protein, leaving the original protein molecule lacking its original activity. This proves that an enzyme is the invisible activity or energy factor and not the protein molecule itself, in other words, the protein molecule is the carrier of the enzyme activity.

Our bodies produce two types of enzymes: Digestive & Metabolic

Digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes are responsible for:

  • Digestion of food
  • Assimilating food nutrients into our bodies
  • Eliminating nonessential and toxic ingredients in our food

Metabolic enzymes

Metabolic enzymes are responsible for all biochemical reactions in each and every cell in our bodies. These biochemical reactions provide energy for seeing, hearing, thinking, moving, breathing, in other words, allows us to live.

Metabolic enzymes are active and functional in all cells, tissues or the blood stream. They’re the enzymes produced in the body that are not used for digestion. They’re the enzymes that make energy production possible within your cells. They also make biochemical reactions for detoxification within those same cells. These enzymes have been called the spark of life, the energy of life and the vitality of life.

Food Enzymes

A third type of enzyme is food enzymes.As we become enzyme deficient the faster we will age. The more enzymes we store up in reserve the healthier we will be.

The number of enzymes found in the body is overwhelming in number and each one has a specific function. This is called enzyme specificity. Enzymes act upon a substance and they change it into another substance, either chemically or as a type of by-product, but remain unchanged themselves. Any substance an enzyme acts upon is called a subtrate.

Because of the volume of enzymes, the National Enzyme Commission devised a system of nomenclature. All enzymes end with the suffix “ase” and in most cases, the name of the enzyme will reveal its function.

What Do Enzymes Do?

Enzymes are present in every phase of digestion. They are what make your digestive system work. Without them, you can’t digest your food adequately. We mainly consume carbohydrates, proteins, and fats; thus the three enzyme groups are amylolytic, proteolytic and lipolytic.

Amylolytic enzymes or amylases break down carbohydrates. The simplest carbohydrate is the monosaccharide because it can’t be broken down to smaller carbohydrates. Glucose and fructose are examples of a monosaccharide. When two monosaccharides are joined they are called a disaccharide and is the simplest polysaccharide. Sucrose and lactose are examples of a disaccharide.

The most complex carbohydrates are oligosaccharides and polysaccharides because they are composed of longer chains of monosaccharide units that are bound together by glycosidic bonds. Oligosaccharides contain between two and nine monosaccharide units and polysaccharides contain more than ten monosaccharides. Examples of polysaccharides are starch and glycogen.

The carbohydrate cellulose functions as fiber in our diet because we don’t have any of the enzyme cellulase present in our digestive tract.

Proteolytic enzymes or proteases break down proteins into small units called amino acids. Each protease works on a specific amino acid. Amino acids that can’t be synthesized by the body are called essential amino acids. The essential amino acids are:

  • Histadine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lycine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Amino acids that can be synthesized by the body are called non-essential amino acids. The non-essential amino acids are:

  • Alanine
  • Arginine
  • Asparagine
  • Aspartic acid
  • Cysteine
  • Glutamic acid
  • Glutamine
  • Glycine
  • Froline
  • Serine
  • Tyrosine

Lipolytic enzymes or lipases break down lipids. Lipids include fats or triglycerides, oils, cholesterol, sterols, monoglycerides, diglycerides, and phosolipids. Lipids are divided into eight categories:

  • Fatty acyls
  • Glycerolipids
  • Glycerophospholipids
  • Sphingolipids
  • Saccharolipids
  • Polyketides
  • Sterol lipids
  • Prenol lipids