Digestive enzymes are actually proteins of sorts that break down larger molecules through chemical reactions, like fats, dietary proteins and carbs, in the body. They break them down into smaller molecules that are easier to absorb across the small intestine. Without sufficient digestive enzymes, the body is unable to digest food particles properly, which may lead to food intolerances. They perform very important tasks in the body, not just the break down of food particles. These include building muscle and destroying toxins. To date, three main types of digestive enzymes have been identified. They’re categorized based on the reactions they help catalyze:
- Amylase breaks down starches and carbohydrates into sugars;
- Protease breaks down proteins into amino acids;
- Lipase breaks down lipids, which are fats and oils, into glycerol and fatty acids.
Among other functions, the pancreas is the primary factory of digestive enzymes in the body (see: Wikipedia).