An enzyme is a type of protein found within a cell. Enzymes create chemical reactions in the body. They actually speed up the rate of a chemical reaction to help support life.
The enzymes in your body perform very important tasks. These include building muscle, destroying toxins, and breaking down food particles during digestion.
An enzyme’s shape is tied to its function. Heat, disease, or harsh chemical conditions can damage enzymes and change their shape. When this happens, an enzyme doesn’t work anymore. This affects the body processes the enzyme helped support.
Enzymes are produced naturally in the body. They’re mostly produced in the pancreas, stomach, and small intestine. But even your salivary glands produce digestive enzymes to start breaking down food molecules while you’re still chewing. You can also take enzymes in pill form if you’re having certain digestive problems.
There are three main types of digestive enzymes. 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.