The chemistry of digestion is really simple; with all the three major types of food being protein, carbohydrates, and fats. But remember, the important thing is not how much food we eat, but rather how much food we digest. And enzymes are the main component in food digestion. There are also three main categories of digestive enzymes: proteases (for protein digestion), amylases (for carbohydrate digestion), and lipases (for fat digestion). We digest proteins into amino acids, carbohydrates into glucose, and fats into fatty acids. Each day, the pancreas secretes about 1.7 liters of pancreatic juice in the small intestine. In this juice are enzymes (including lipases, proteases and amylases) required for the digestion and absorption of food. Lipases, along with bile, help digest fats. Amylases break down starch molecules into more absorbable sugars and are secreted by the salivary glands as well as the pancreas.
The proteases secreted by the pancreas (trypsin, chymotrypsin, and carboxypeptidase) break protein molecules into single amino acids. There are also two plant-based proteases – bromelain (from the stems of pineapples) and papain (from unripe papayas). Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with enzymes, but when we cook food, the enzymes are destroyed. Around the age of 30, your body’s production of enzymes drastically diminishes, so it’s essential to begin supplementing immediately if you are older than 30.