Natural Sources of Digestive Enzymes

NutriNeat Staff Nov 23, 2018
Natural digestive enzymes are the ones that are found naturally in plenty of food items like fruits and vegetables. They are a good source of protease and help in proper breakdown of protein. Read on to know more about them.
Enzymes are protein molecules that act as catalysts to carry out multiple metabolic activities. Complex molecules like proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are broken down by the enzymes into simpler substances that can be excreted by the body easily.
The digestive enzymes present in our body are also to be found in vegetables and fruits, and they are known as natural digestive enzymes. Consumption of these food items assists the digestive system of our body.

Types of Enzymes

The benefits of digestive enzymes are mainly associated with metabolic activities. They are broadly categorized into three groups as following:
  • Proteolytic Enzymes: Protease helps to break down proteins into amino acids.
  • Amylolytic Enzymes: The enzyme amylase helps to degrade carbohydrate and starch molecules into simple sugars.
  • Lipolytic Enzymes: The enzyme lipase helps in degradation of fat molecules into fatty acids and glycerol.
Apart from these main groups, there are other categories too of natural digestive enzymes that help in multiple activities, which are as follows:
  • Cellulase
  • Lactase
  • Invertase
  • Bromelain
  • Somazyne
  • Amyloglucosidase
  • Maltodextrin
  • Acid Proteases
  • Papain
These enzymes enhance metabolism and help in proper digestion of food. Their consumption eliminates stomach pain, bloating, abdominal cramps, and indigestion. They also help to reduce weight by breaking down fat molecules.
The best ones are present in certain food varieties which, when consumed, affect the activity of the digestive system by increasing absorption, utilization, and assimilation of food. It helps reduce toxic effects of certain foods by eliminating free radicals from the body. Some enzymes also have an antioxidant property that purifies blood.

Natural Sources of Enzymes

Vegetables and fruits contain digestive enzymes must form a part of regular diet. When consumed with other foods, they catalyze the digestion process.
They are as powerful as chemical tablets or syrups containing digestive enzymes. Therefore, increased intake of these substances helps in maintaining normal metabolic activity of the body. People who suffer from health disorders can increase the intake of following foods as they are rich in these enzymes:

Papaya

It is a natural source of the protease papain. Papain is also known as a cleansing enzyme as it improves the skin texture. It is found abundantly in the latex of papaya tree.
But, as the latex is toxic, it is extracted by industrial process and is commercially sold as tablets. It is a digestive aid tablet that helps break down a protein-rich meal. However, eating too much papaya elevates the level of papain in body, which can lead to indigestion, nausea, bloating, and diarrhea

Kiwifruit

The protease present in this fruit is known as actinidin, an enzyme that helps in the digestion of protein-rich foods.
The activity of actinidin is similar to that of bromelain and papain enzymes, in that it acts as a catalyst in protein digestion. Some people might have an allergic reaction to it though, and it is not advisable to consume this fruit if you are sensitive to actinidin. It can also cause diarrhea and nausea.

Pineapple

Pineapple is a great source of enzyme bromelain. It is a protease that helps in the breakdown of protein molecules. Fresh pineapple pulp is a natural source of this enzyme.
However, herbal companies that sell this product perform extraction of enzymes from pineapple parts and sell them as tablets or pills. Many organic food stores supply pineapple products containing bromelain to cure arthritis. It also acts as an antioxidant for the body.
Although enzymes like catalase and pectinase are present in potatoes, tomatoes, and apples, they do not do much as digestive aids. The natural digestive enzymes present in the aforementioned list of foods are often utilized for digestive-enzyme therapy.
Intake of these foods in moderation is very useful for people suffering from indigestion, constipation and gastritis disorders. Side effects of these enzymes are observed only when they are consumed in excess.
Sprouts, nuts, and beans also contain beneficial digestive enzymes. To get maximum benefits, consume these fruits and vegetables either raw or boiled.