What Are Enzymes?

Like most people, you probably have a vague idea of what enzymes are. When you hear this word, memories of high school science class pop up in your head. You remember your teacher talking about them. Maybe you even remember acing a test or two about them. But by now chances are that you’ve forgotten most of what you learned about enzymes—and this is why you are here.

Before going any further, it is crucial that you understand what enzymes are and how important a role they play in keeping you alive. This article will aims to refresh your memory and perhaps teach you a thing or two about them. (So it’s like science class but with no homework!)

What Are Enzymes?

In scientific jargon, enzymes are biological catalysts. In simple words, enzymes are molecules of proteins that initiate change in your body. All living organism produce enzymes, but for the purpose of keeping this article simple we’ll only be focusing on enzymes that are produced by the human body (or that can be supplemented).

What Do Enzymes Do?

Like your science teacher probably said, enzymes are involved in every function of your body. They catalyze (or accelerate) biochemical reactions that, quite literally, keep you alive. Without enzymes, you would die. Here are just a few things that enzymes help with:

  • Digesting food;
  • Delivering nutrients;
  • Carrying away toxic wastes;
  • Transforming glucose into energy;

What Are The Different Kinds of Enzymes?

Enzymes are everywhere in your body. Because of their importance, it comes as no surprise that there would be different kinds of enzymes working on different biological functions within your body. If you remember hearing your science teacher say that enzymes are very specific, it’s because they are. Here are 4 types of enzymes:

Food enzymes: Those enzymes primarily come from plants. In other words, your body can’t produce those enzymes—they have to come from foods that you eat. Quite simply, food enzymes (also known as plant enzymes) help your body digest food and deliver nutrients to the blood. Food enzymes are destroyed when cooked and can be supplemented by eating more raw vegetables and fruits.

Digestive enzymes: As the name entails, digestive enzymes help break down food into basic components so that your body can absorb the nutrients. Those nutrients are then used to build cells, maintain organs and repair tissues. Digestive enzymes, unlike food enzymes, are present in your body. You can find them in the digestive juices that your body produces.

Metabolic enzymes: Metabolic enzymes are also found within your body. They enhance metabolic processes and are the driving forces behind chemical reactions in cells. Think of them as the building blocks of your biological system.

Supplemental enzymes: Lastly, supplemental enzymes are (obviously) not found within your body. Instead, they are supplemented by means of tablets, capsules and powders. Digestive and systemic enzymes are the most common types of supplemented enzymes. The former replace naturally occurring digestive enzymes that are lost during the cooking process while the latter help maintain a healthy overall body. We’ll be covering systemic enzymes a lot more in the next few articles, so make sure to stay tuned!

Of course, enzymes are much more complicated than this. Thousands of them can be found within the human body, so narrowing them all down into a few categories is nearly impossible. Regardless, knowing a bit more about the enzymes described above is still an excellent stepping stone if you wish to learn more about enzymes in general and how they benefit you.

Categories: Systemic Enzymes