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Digestion And The Role Of Enzymes
You Ate It; Now Use It

Digestion begins when food first enters the mouth. Here the first mechanical process occurs with the act of chewing. The body’s first enzymes are added to the food with saliva. This enzyme is called ptyalin and consists of amylolytic enzymes. As the food travels down the esophagus via peristaltic action, ptyalin as well as any food borne enzymes continue the digestive process started in the mouth.

Once the food bolus has entered the stomach, it may remain in the fundus or upper region of the stomach for as long as an hour until the food is mixed with the stomach secretions. During this time salivary amylase and food enzymes continue digestion. Research has shown that salivary amylase can digest as much as 30 to 40 % of the starches present before mixing occurs.

The stomach continues mechanical digestion by churning the bolus into a creamy chyme. Several enzymes are secreted in the stomach including gastric lipase, gastric amylase, gelatinase and pepsinogen. Pepsinogen is the inactive form of the proteolytic enzyme pepsin which is activated via acid hydrolysis with the hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach. Thus, the stomach begins the enzymatic digestion of protein and to a limited extent fats.
As the chyme moves into the duodenum, the pancreas is stimulated to produce additional digestive enzymes
As the chyme moves into the duodenum, the pancreas is stimulated to produce additional digestive enzymes. Pancreatic secretions include enzymes for the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Secreted proteolytic enzymes break proteins into peptides of various sizes and free amino acids.

Pancreatic amylase hydrates starches, simple sugars and other digestible carbohydrates into di- and trisaccharides. Similar in action to salivary amylase, pancreatic amylase is several times more powerful and is the major agent in the digestion of starches and other complex carbohydrates.
Fats are hydrolyzed by pancreatic lipase, cholesterol esterase and phospholipase. Together these lipolytic enzymes account for the digestion of cholesterol and fats. To support fat digestion and absorption, bile is secreted by the liver. The bile salts function to aid emulsification of fat particles as well as the transport and absorption of fatty acids, cholesterol and other lipids through the intestinal mucous membrane.

Upon entrance to the small intestine, additional enzymes are present to further digest the ingested foods. Sugar digesting enzymes like sucrase and lactase function to dissolve simple sugars to prepare them for absorption by the body. It is in the small intestine that absorption of nutrients takes place. Once digested into the appropriate form, simple sugars, amino acids, fatty acids and other nutrients are absorbed across the intestinal mucosa and transported via the blood stream for use by cells throughout the body.


Under optimal conditions, it could be argued that the human body needs no supplementation of enzymes. The human body is quite capable of producing the enzymes necessary to digest food and allow for the absorption of nutrients.
However, with estimates that as many as twenty million Americans suffer from various digestive disorders, optimal conditions are not the case. Digestive problems can cause improper digestion and malabsorption of nutrients that can have far reaching effects.

Consequences of poor assimilation can include impaired immunity, allergic reaction, poor wound healing, skin problems and mood swings. Supplemental enzymes can improve the level of digestion and help assure that the maximum level of nutrient absorption is attained.
All raw food naturally contains the proper types and proportion of enzymes necessary to digest themselves. This happens through human consumption or in the eventual decomposition in the natural world. When raw food is eaten, chewing ruptures the cell membranes and releases the indigenous food enzymes to begin the selective breakdown called digestion.

Proteases break long protein chains or polypeptides into smaller amino acid chains and eventually into single amino acids. Amylase reduces large carbohydrates such as starches and other polysaccharides to disaccharides including sucrose, lactose, and maltose.
All raw food naturally contains the proper types and proportion of enzymes necessary to digest themselves
Lipases digest fats or triglycerides into free fatty acids and glycerol. Cellulases, which are not found in the human system, break the bonds
found in fiber. By disrupting the structure of the fiber matrices or cell walls which envelop most of the nutrients in plants, cellulase increases
the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables.

Overwhelming evidence shows that food enzymes play an important role in digestion by predigesting food in the upper stomach before
hydrochloric acid has been secreted. Supplementation of food enzymes is necessary in today’s society due to the prevalence of cooked and
processed foods in our diets.

Most food enzymes are essentially destroyed at the temperatures used to cook and process food. This leaves foods devoid of digestive
enzyme activity. Placing the full digestive burden on the body, the body’s digestive process can become overstressed and vital nutrients may
not be extracted from food for assimilation by the body.
Unlike supplemental enzymes of animal origin, plant enzymes work at the pH found in the upper stomach. Food sits in the upper portion of
the stomach for as long as an hour before gastric secretions begin action. Several studies conducted at major universities have shown that
as the enzymes in saliva continue their digestive activity in the upper stomach they can digest up to 30% of the ingested protein, 60% of
ingested starch and 10% of ingested fat during the 30 to 60 minutes after consumption.

Although salivary enzymes accomplish a significant amount of digestion, their activity is limited to a pH level above 5.0. Plant enzymes are
active in the pH range of 3.0 to 9.0 and can facilitate the utilization of a much larger amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat before HCL
is secreted in sufficient amounts to neutralize their activity. Obviously, plant enzymes can play a significant role in improving food nutrient

In addition to protease, amylase, lipase, and cellulase, it is important to get a concentrated source of the disaccharidases Lactase, Invertase
and Malt Diastase. Disaccharide intolerance occurs when insufficient levels of disaccharidase enzymes are secreted in the small intestine
causing malabsorption and physical discomfort. Lactase deficiency is the most common and well-known form of carbohydrate intolerance.

Lactose digests lactose milk sugar into glucose and galactose. Most mammals, including humans, have high intestinal lactase activity at
birth. But, in some cases, this activity declines to low levels during childhood and remains low in adulthood. The low lactase levels cause
maldigestion of milk and other foods containing lactose.

It is estimated that approximately 70% of the world’s population is deficient in intestinal lactase with more than one-third of the U.S.
population presumed to be unable to digest dairy products. Supplemental lactase has been found to decrease the symptoms of lactose
intolerance associated with the consumption of dairy foods.

Invertase is another disaccharidase that works to break down sucrose like refined table sugar into glucose and fructose. The prevalence of
processed and highly refined foods in the American diet means that we consume a great amount of this sugar which can contribute to undue
digestive stress. It is theorized that unrecognized sucrose intolerance is a contributing factor in many allergies.

Supplemental Invertase can increase the assimilation and utilization of this sugar. The additional supplementation of the carbohydrase Malt
Diastase augments the breakdown of starch into glucose molecules, allowing greater absorption of this energy-giving sugar. Inclusion of
these sugar breaking enzymes gives this formula a broad base for improving nutrition.

Alpha-Galactosidase hydrolyzes the raffinose-series sugars. Raffinose-series sugars are prevalent in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli
and cabbage as well as turnips, onions and beans. These complex sugars are not digested within the human gastrointestinal system and
instead are fermented by the intestinal flora and commonly produce flatus.


The use of enzymes to increase the nutritive value of food has long been established in the food industry. Over the last twenty years,
numerous studies have been conducted which show the advantage of using enzymes as predigestive factors in increasing nutrient yields.
Plant-based foods can offer a unique problem for the mammalian digestive system.

The proteolytic enzymes of the gastrointestinal tract do not completely digest certain plant proteins and leave a "core" polypeptide of 20 to
30 amino acids. In contrast, animal proteins are typically well digested in the mammalian digestive tract. This plant protein "core" results
from the fundamentally different makeup of some plant and animal proteins. The abundance of hydrophobic R-groups in animal proteins is
thought to lead to the increased digestion and hence, bioavailability of animal protein.
Americans consume a wide variety of protein sources and nutritionists encourage the consumption of more vegetables, fruits, cereals and legumes. Cereal grasses, algae, legumes and various other plants have been investigated as possible alternative protein sources.

Historically, the protein content of these plants has been extracted via a combination of pressure and abrasion, both mechanical and chemical, in order to rupture the cells and release the nutritive contents. Unfortunately, this process releases only one third of the plant protein. Lignins and cellulose fibers trap the remaining protein. Interestingly, consumption of high fiber diets has been associated with reductions in the digestibility and availability of protein, fats, and other nutrients such as minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates.
Americans consume a wide variety of protein sources and nutritionists encourage the consumption of more vegetables, fruits, cereals and legumes.
Investigation on the effects of proteolytic predigestion on a variety of seed proteins including sesame, peanut, chick-pea, and field bean,
showed increased solubility and nutritive value. Protease and lipase have been used to increase the nutritive value available from both
alfalfa and clover. Protein absorption from fatty foods such as fish or seeds can be improved by incorporating lipase.

The fiber content of plant foods can bind proteins and other nutrients. These nutrients are often entrapped within complex polysaccharide
matrices. Such matrices are often composed of lignins, cellulose, hemicellulose, pectins and other polysaccharides. Treatment of alfalfa with
a combination of cellulase and pectinase was found to enhance protein availability from the leaves by nearly 50%.

Cellulase was used to increase digestibility of the protein in wheat bran by 35% and rats fed bran with cellulase grew 25% faster than control
rats. Studies using Aspergillus niger cellulase for predigestion consistently show significantly increased nutritive value of vegetable
foodstuffs. The use of polysaccharidases, such as cellulase, can increase the calories per unit weight of plant foods by transforming a portion
of the fiber into utilizable sugars. In this way, plant foods which are low in carbohydrates can be modified to improve its total nutritional

The use of cellulase to digest the cell walls of vegetable feeds for increased digestibility is widely accepted in the animal feed industry
particularly for cattle, pigs, and poultry. An enzyme complex including cellulase and other fiber digesting enzymes was fed to mature hens
and was shown to increase energy and nutrient utilization. Research on the use of various enzyme preparations has been conducted for over
30 years and clearly establishes that the digestibility of nutrients and productivity of animals can be increased.

Glucanases have been used to increase the protein availability in soybeans from 74% to 95%. A proposed mechanism for beta-glucanase is
that it functions to decrease viscosity caused by beta-glucan gums in the digestive tract. Soy meal predigested with pectinolytic enzymes,
cellulase and hemicellulase increase the availability of soluble carbohydrates and utilizable sugars, thus improving the nutritional content of
the legume.

Soybeans are a poor source of starch and the small amount available is tightly associated with the protein, actually interfering with the
trypsin hydrolysis of the legume’s protein. Supplementation of amylase removes this starch and frees the protein for proteolysis.

Naturally occurring enzyme inhibitors are another consideration in the supplementation of exogenous enzymes. Various plant foods are
known to possess potent trypsin and alpha amylase inhibitors. Grains, legumes and other seeds are the best known sources of these anti-
enzyme compounds.

Wheat albumin proteins contain a fraction which effectively inhibits human alpha amylase but do not inhibit fungal amylase. Furthermore, it
is established that significant anti-amylase activity survives process and baking to interfere with normal digestion.

Egg whites and soybeans are perhaps the best known sources of trypsin inhibiting compounds. These inhibitors are effective due to the
similarity of their structures to the binding site of trypsin. Supplementation of exogenous proteases with differing configurations of binding
sites is thus beneficial.

A large body of evidence exists supporting the role of supplemental enzymes in the increased nutritional value of vegetable foodstuffs. The
studies discussed above focus on the role of supplemental enzymes and the availability of micronutrients. Future interests include the
parallel role of enzyme supplementation and availability of micronutrients and other phytochemicals with physiologic interest.


Before a fungal organism is used in fermentation, the specific strain is extensively screened to determine if the organism is capable of
producing mycotoxins under the conditions of fermentation. Only those organism that do not produce any toxins are selected for use in the
fermentation process.

Even after an organism is determined to be "safe" and is used in fermentation, every second generation is again checked to verify that
mutations have not occurred which might enable the organism to produce mycotoxins. Enzyme derived from Aspergillus fermentation were
first used in food production at the turn of the century. Since their introduction, there has never been a documented case of illness from
mycotoxins associated with fermented enzymes, which is testament to the effectiveness of the screening process employed by the enzyme
manufacturing industry.

It is important to use only fungal enzymes derived from the fermentation of non-toxigenic strains of Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus oryzae.
These organisms have been studied extensively by the food and pharmaceutical industries to establish their safe use in the production of
amino acids, enzymes, antibiotics and other beneficial compounds.

Enzymes are isolated proteins not living organisms. Once fermentation by the Aspergillus organism is complete, the enzymes are extracted
by a complex process that isolates protein compounds from the surrounding material. No living Aspergillus cells remain in the isolated
enzyme after the extraction process is complete. Mycotoxins are not protein based substances; therefore, in the extremely unlikely event
that mycotoxins were produced during fermentation, they would not be extracted with the enzymes. Instead, any mycotoxins present would
remain in the discarded portion of the fermentation.

Red MeatThere are many advantages of using supplemental microbial enzymes as opposed to animal derived enzymes. Fermented by microorganisms with centuries of use in foods, microbial enzymes have been specially selected on the basis of each enzyme’s unique characteristics. Fermented enzymes exhibit broad ranges of pH, temperature and substrate specificities. Supplemental microbial enzymes are chosen on their ability to work within the gastrointestinal system of mammals.
Specially selected for compatibility with the body’s temperature, microbial enzymes also exhibit activity across a broad pH range. Unlike
supplemental enzymes of animal origin, microbial enzymes work at the pH found in the upper stomach. Food sits in the upper portion of the
stomach for as long as an hour before gastric secretions begin action.

Studies have shown that the enzymes in saliva continue their digestive activity in the upper stomach and can digest up to 30% of the
ingested protein, 60% of ingested starch and 10% of ingested fat during the first 30 to 60 minutes after consumption. Although salivary
enzymes accomplish a significant amount of digestion, their activity is limited to a pH level above 5.0.

Supplemental microbial enzymes are active in the pH range of 3.0 to 9.0 and can facilitate the utilization of a much larger amount of
protein, carbohydrates and fat before hydrochloride is secreted in sufficient amounts to neutralize their activity. In contrast, supplemental
enzymes of animal origin are destroyed by the low pH within the stomach unless they are enterically coated.

Yet, this coating can prevent the dissolution of the enzymes and prevent any digestive benefit. Studies have shown that non-enteric coated
products can be more effective than coated products. Furthermore, animal-based enzymes function only at the narrow pH ranges found at
specific anatomical sites. Pepsin is only active in the highly acidic environment of the active stomach.

Pancreatin, trypsin and chymotrypsin are only active in the alkalinity of the duodenum. Supplemental microbial enzymes exhibit activity
throughout the entire digestive process. Therefore, microbial enzymes can play a significant role in improving food nutrient utilization.

Protease enzymes are available from non-animal sources such as aspergillus oryzae, bacillus subtilis, ananas comosus, bromelain and carica
papaya or papain. Lipases are derived from aspergillus niger and rhizopus oryza. Carbohydrases are starch-breaking enzymes produced from
aspergillus oryzae, aspergillus niger, bacillus subtilis and hordeum vulgare. Fiber breaking carbohydrases are produced from aspergillus
niger, trichoderma and longbrachiatum.


Almost all quality enzymes are produced by solid state fermentation. Solid state fermentation involves the growth of enzyme-producing
organisms on mats of koji or wheat or rice bran that have been sterilized to eliminate unwanted organisms from the fermentation process.
The sterile koji is inoculated with the specific strain of fungi that will produce the desired enzymes.

Fermentation under controlled temperature and humidity conditions may take from a few days to a week or more to complete. At the
conclusion of fermentation, the enzymes are solubilized into an aqueous phase and the substrate is removed by conventional filtration. For
some processes there may also be microfiltration or ultrafiltration steps to concentrate the aqueous enzyme before precipitation.

To produce powdered enzymes the soluble enzymes are precipitated with ethanol, washed and dried. With the ethanol precipitation step,
these powdered products are microbially very "clean," i.e., they have very low microbes when compared to other food products such as fluid,
pasteurized milk.

Most food enzymes have long histories of use which have shown them to be safe and free of toxins. All of our products must meet or exceed
the microbial and heavy metal specifications of the Food Chemicals Codex for Food Grade Enzymes. Any newly introduced food enzyme must
undergo specific toxicological screening to show that they are free of mycotoxins.
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