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Enzymes are found in all living things, being used by fireflies to glow in the dark and by silkworms to work free of their cocoons. Enzymes in yeast make bread rise and turn grape juice into wine, wine into vinegar, and milk into cheese. Also, they are specific. Those capable of breaking down proteins are unable to break down fats or carbohydrates. A different group of enzymes converts fat into fatty acids and glycerol, and still another is needed to break down starches and complex sugars into simple sugars. Since each enzyme reacts to a specific class of food, it is best not to combine too many types of food at one meal to ensure proper digestion and full utilization of the nutrients in food. When you eat food the body can use efficiently, it will not show up as a weight increase.
The enzymes in your body control the speed of all chemical changes, but the enzymes themselves never change, simply serving as catalysts to make something happen while they remain the same. This unique property of enzymes can be understood more clearly by drawing a parallel: Suppose you wanted to walk a distance of 100 miles, but after realizing this would take 20-24 hours, you took a bus instead. The same distance would be covered in 2 hours, and after speeding up your trip the bus would remain unchanged. So it is with the thousands of enzymes in your body, accelerating the breakdown of food in the intest nal tract. Some enzymes need a trace of other substances, called coenzymes, to help convert food into substances that can be absorbed by the body. Vitamins play an essential role in producing many of the coenzymes required to maintain a chemical balance in the body systems.
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