Plant enzymes: benefits, contraindications, where they are found

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Robert Maurer

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 , Nutritionist


- enzymes are protein molecules that they regulate metabolic reactions of our body. Their main function is to activate and speed up the various essential biological processes to our survival. Let's split them up better.

> Description of enzymes

> What are plant enzymes

> Where they are

> Properties and benefits of plant enzymes

> Contraindications of plant enzymes


Vegetable, rich in vegetable enzymes


Description of enzymes

Life could not exist without enzymes, in fact they are the only components capable of initiating digestion and allowing food to be broken down into basic constituents small enough to be digested and absorbed by the body, processed by other enzymes, or excreted as waste.

Each enzyme has a specific role: the one that breaks down fats, for example, does not act on proteins or carbohydrates. Enzymes are essential for the well-being of the organism and the insufficiency of even a single enzyme can cause serious problems.

We can divide enzymes into three categories:

  1. Vegetable enzymes- are found in fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods, and start digestion.
  2. Digestive enzymes - products by the body to aid digestion and absorption of food in the intestine.
  3. Metabolic enzymes - produced by the body to allow complex biochemical reactions.

All enzymes work by combining with a specific substance to transform it into a different substance and act without being modified.


What are plant enzymes

Plant and digestive enzymes have a similar but different function: plant enzymes initiate digestion in the stomach and they begin to act at least an hour earlier that our body begins its digestion work.  

When we eat, through chewing, we break the cell membrane and in this way the enzymes present in the food are released and begin to digest what we have ingested.

There are 4 groups of plant enzymes found in foods of plant origin:

  • Protease - they break the bonds of proteins forming shorter amino acid chains
  • Amylase - reduce polysaccharides into disaccharides - lactose, maltose and sucrose 
  • Lipase - split the bonds of triglycerides, transforming them into individual fatty acids and glycerol 
  • Cellulase - responsible for the digestion of specific carbohydrates such as cellulose 


Where are

Naturally occurring plant enzymes are found in all foods of plant origin not cooked or processed. In fact, cooking and processing food destroys most if not all the enzymes present and consequently our body must constantly produce new ones.

It is therefore good to try to introduce some into the daily diet serving of uncooked fruit and vegetables and maybe from time to time gods sprouted seeds which are the richest natural source of digestive enzymes.

There are also specific food supplements generally based on pineapple, papaya, kiwi, etc. which can be taken to aid digestion. Enzymes derived from mushrooms are among the most stable and capable of not being degraded in the stomach, as well as having a broad spectrum of action. 



Properties and benefits of plant enzymes

The main role of enzymes is to support digestion and are therefore essential elements for health, if, in fact, we eat a healthy diet, but we don't have the enzymes needed to digest, we won't be able to absorb all the nutrients from the food we consume.  

An example of a plant enzyme is bromelain, a protease found in pineapple which, in addition to breaking down proteins, helps reduce water retention and inflammations and can thus be useful in the healing process. Bromelain also works as an antioxidant, as do papain (found in papaya) and trypsin (a pancreatic protease). Bromelain and papain also support the body's ability to recover from over-fatigue.

Generally, if you wish to take supplements under the advice of an expert, it is recommended that you take a combination of these enzymes rather than just one, even if they are effective in both cases. Many believe that plant enzymes are the most effective, as they have the ability to better resist high temperatures and acidic environments and act both in the intestine and in the stomach.

In particular, active enzymes play a fundamental role in ours immune system, especially since they regulate inflammatory processes, as well as acting as antioxidants and antiallergenic agents.


Contraindications of plant enzymes

Unlike vitamin and mineral supplements, plant enzymes do not carry a risk of overdose and are not associated with symptoms of toxicity and therefore tend to be among the safest supplements, however, in order to avoid potential problems especially in the case of interactions with other supplements or medicines, it is always advisable consult an expert.


Plant enzymes among the natural remedies for difficult digestion


Other articles on enzymes:
> The properties of fermented papaya rich in plant enzymes

> Enzymes in food: benefits of eating raw



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