If protease digests proteins and amylase digests carbohydrates, can you venture a guess as to what lipase digests?
If you guessed fats, you were correct!
Just like amylase breaks down carbs into simpler forms of sugar, lipase breaks down fats into smaller molecules that are known as fatty acids and glycerol. In science jargon, the process is known as hydrolyzing. While pancreas is (mostly) responsible for the production of lipase in your body, the enzyme is actually released into the digestive track when you eat. This is because lipase doesn’t like to wait to get to work — as soon as food enters your digestive track, it likes to assist your body in the breakdown of fats.
Unlike what some people think, your body needs fat to function properly. However, there is a difference between good and bad fats, but since this isn’t a nutrition article we won’t cover them today. What you need to know is this: Making sure that your body is getting an adequate amount of healthy fats is as important as making sure that your body digests fats properly.
It all begins with lipase. Without this enzyme (or with an insufficient amount of it), your body becomes at risk of suffering from an array of digestive problems, including indigestion and heartburn. Yikes, no? Yikes indeed!
However, amylase and protease are not limited to the digestion of proteins and carbohydrates. It comes as no surprise to learn, therefore, that neither is lipase limited to the digestion of fats. Here is a short list of benefits associated with this enzyme:
- Research has shown that lipase may help digesting the proteins in gluten, effectively improving the symptoms of Celiac disease;
- Research has shown that lipase may help with the common symptoms of indigestion;
- Research has shown that lipase may boosts absorption of vitamins and minerals from food;
Should you supplement with lipase enzymes?
As we said above, making sure that your body is properly able to digest fats is nearly as important (if not more important) as making sure that your body gets enough fat. Since lipase production slows down as you age and since certain conditions can affect the production of this enzyme, some people are absolutely required to supplement with lipase enzymes.
The question remains, though. Should you supplement with lipase enzymes? We see no reason why you shouldn’t. However, as is the case with most enzyme supplements out there, be aware of the safety concerns associated with lipase supplements. For the most part, they are safe to consume, but do check up with your doctor before making a decision that could affect you negatively. You never know when supplements may interfere with prescription medications!