How Enzymes Speed Up Reactions In Our Body
Protein or protein-based molecules that speed up chemical reactions occurring in living things. Enzymes act as catalysts for a single reaction, converting a specific set of reactants (called substrates) into specific products. Without enzymes life as we know it would be impossible.
Enzymes are biological catalysts. Catalysts lower the activation energy for reactions. The lower the activation energy for a reaction, the faster the rate. Thus enzymes speed up reactions by lowering activation energy.
Enzymes exist in the mouth (saliva), stomach (gastric juice), and intestines (pancreatic juice, intestinal juice, and intestinal mucosa); and change starches, proteins, and sugars into substances the body can digest. Enzymes also cause clotting (thrombin); split, reduce, or join other enzymes; or remove amino groups during oxidation.
The absence of a particular enzyme is often inherited. The disorder known as phenylketonuria is caused by the absence of an enzyme called phenylalanine hydroxylase, which normally prevents the build-up of the amino acid phenylalanine by converting it to tyrosine. The conditions of lactose intolerance and cystic fibrosis are also associated with deficiencies of one or more digestive enzymes.
Enzymes are present everywhere ? in the blood, in the liver, in the muscles and in the organs. Nothing can be produced without enzymes. At this stage more than 3 000 enzymes have been identified in the body.
Enzymes are divided into three categories:
- Metabolic enzymes help to build the body and help it to recover after illness.
- Digestive enzymes digest the food.
- Food enzymes occur in raw food and contain their own digestive enzymes.
Enzymes therefore occur everywhere and if they are lacking, illnesses develop. Man is born with a limited amount of enzymes. If we do not eat food like raw fruit and vegetables, the reserve enzymes can be exhausted more quickly.
FDA regulations on enzyme use is a gray area. Enzymes used in the processing of foods do not have to be listed on product labels because they are not considered foods. Also, when enzymes are genetically engineered, the manufacturer is not required to notify the FDA that the enzymes have been modified. The lists of GE enzymes known by the FDA is, by their own admission, "probably incomplete."
The FDA provided this partial list of genetically engineered enzymes:
- Chymosin-used in the production of cheese
- Novamyl(TM)-used in baked goods to help preserve freshness
- Alpha amylase-used in the production of white sugar, maltodextrins and nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners (corn syrup)
- Aspartic (proteinase enzyme from R. miehei)-used in the production of cheese
- Pullulanase-used in the production of high fructose corn syrup
While the body can manufacture its own enzymes, it can also obtain enzymes from food. However, even very low heat (118 degrees Fahrenheit or above) can destroy enzymes, so the only way to get enzymes from the diet is to eat raw foods or supplement with enzyme formulas.
Papain is a protein-cleaving enzyme derived from papaya and certain other plants. It is used mainly as a meat tenderizer.