The organs of our body work together to produce the digestive system.
These organs receive the food you eat and break them down into simpler forms, like proteins, carbs, fats and vitamins. Then the nutrients are transported through the small intestine and after into the bloodstream, where they offer energy for growing and repair.
For this process are necessary the digestive enzymes, as they break down molecules like fats, proteins and carbs into much smaller molecules that can be effortless absorbed.
There are three important categories of digestive enzymes:
- Proteases – break down protein into small peptides and amino acids
- Lipases – break down fat into three fatty acids and glycerol molecules
- Amylases – break down carbs like starch into base sugars
Also other digestive enzymes are made in the small intestine, counting lactase, maltase and sucrase.
If the body is incapable to make enough digestive enzymes, food molecules can’t be digested correctly. This can lead to digestive maladies like lactose intolerance.
Consequently, eating foods that are high in natural digestive enzymes can improve your digestion.
Here are 10 foods that contain natural digestive enzymes.
Pineapple is a delightful tropical fruit rich in digestive enzymes.
Specifically, pineapple contains a group of digestive enzymes named bromelain.
Bromelain is a protease, which break down protein into its building blocks, including amino acids and small peptides, helping the digestion and absorption of proteins.
Bromelain can be bought in powdered form to help tenderize strong meats. Bromelain is also available as a supplement to help people who fight to digest proteins.
A research on persons with pancreatic deficiency, a situation in which the pancreas can’t make enough digestive enzymes, found that taking bromelain combined with a pancreatic enzyme supplement improved digestion more than the bromelain supplement alone.
Papaya is other tropical fruit that is rich in digestive enzymes.
Papaya also contains proteases that improve digest proteins, a different group of proteases known as papain.
Papain is also available as powder for meat tenderize and health supplement.
Researches have revealed that taking a papaya-based formula may relieve digestive symptoms such as constipation and bloating.
When you eat papaya, be sure to eat it ripe and uncooked, as cooking can destroy their digestive enzymes.
Also unripe or semi-ripe papaya can be risky for pregnant women because it may stimulate contractions.
Americans consume over 200 million kg of honey every year.
This delicious cream is rich in many useful substances, including digestive enzymes.
The next digestive enzymes found in honey, specifically raw honey:
- Diastases – break down starch into maltose
- Amylases – break down starch into simple sugars like glucose and maltose
- Invertases – break down sucrose (a form of sugar) into glucose and fructose
- Proteases – break down proteins into amino acids
Be sure you’re purchasing raw honey if you’re seeking its digestive health effects. Processed honey is frequently heated, which can destroy digestive enzymes.
Mango is a juicy tropical fruit that is very popular in any season.
Mango contains the digestive enzymes amylases, a group of enzymes that break down carbs from starch into simple sugars like glucose and maltose. So carbs are easily absorbed by the body.
The amylase enzymes in mango become more powerful as the fruit ripens and becomes sweeter.
Amylase enzymes are also produced by the salivary glands and pancreas.
For this reason it’s often recommended to chew food very well before swallowing, as amylase enzymes in saliva improve break down carbs for easier digestion and absorption.
Banana is other tropical fruit that contains natural digestive enzymes.
Banana contains amylases and glucosidases, two category of enzymes that break down composite carbs like starch into smaller and more easily absorbed sugars.
Like mango, amylase enzymes break down starch into simple sugars as soon as bananas begin to ripen. For this reason ripe yellow banana are much sweeter than unripe green banana.
Also banana is a abundant source of dietary fiber, which may improve digestive health. A medium banana (118 grams) provides 3.1 grams of fiber.
Distinct from other fruits, avocado is a distinctive fruit very rich in healthy fats and low in sugar.
Also avocado contains the digestive enzyme lipase. Lipase enzyme aids break down fat molecules into fatty acids and glycerol, which are easier for the body to absorb.
Lipase is also produced by your pancreas, so it’s not necessary to get it from your diet. But taking a lipase supplement can help ease digestion, particularly after a high-fat meal.
Also avocado contains other enzymes, including polyphenol oxidase. This enzyme is responsible for turning green avocado into brown in the presence of oxygen.
Kiwi is a fruit that is frequently recommended to ease digestion.
Kiwi is a very good source of digestive enzymes, specifically a protease named actinidain. Actinidain enzyme aids digest proteins and it is commercially used to tenderize tough meats.
Also kiwi contains many other enzymes that aids ripen the fruit.
Researchers believe actinidain is one reason why kiwi seems to help digestion.
A study revealed that adding kiwi to the diet help the digestion of beef, gluten and soy protein isolates in the stomach. This was believed to be due to its actinidain content.
Other study analyzed the effects of actinidain on digestion. Results showed that animals fed kiwi with active actinidain digested meat more efficiently and the meat moved faster through the stomach.
Many human-based researches have also found that kiwi helps digestion, reduces bloating and relieves constipation.
Ginger has been used for cooking and traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Ginger’s extraordinary health effects may be attributed to its digestive enzymes.
Ginger contains the protease zingibain, which digests proteins into small amino acids. Zingibain is used commercially to produce ginger milk curd, a very popular Chinese dessert.
Unlike other proteases, zingibain from ginger is not frequently used to tenderize meats because it has a short shelf life.
Food sitting in the stomach for too long is frequently believed to be the cause of indigestion.
Researches in healthy adults and those with indigestion reveal that ginger helps food move faster through the stomach by promoting contractions.
Also other studies revealed that spices, including ginger, improve the body’s own production of digestive enzymes like amylases and lipases.
What’s more, ginger seems to be a very good treatment for nausea and vomiting.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is very popular in the natural health community.
Kefir is produced by addition of kefir grains to milk. Kefir grains are in fact cultures of yeast, lactic acid bacteria and acetic acid bacteria that look like a cauliflower.
In the course of fermentation, bacteria digest the natural sugars in milk and turn them into organic acids and carbon dioxide. The process generates conditions that aid the bacteria grow but also adds nutrients, enzymes and other helpful substances.
Kefir contains more digestive enzymes, including lipase, proteases and lactase.
Lactase aids the digestion of lactose, a sugar in milk that is frequently difficult digested. A research found that kefir help lactose digestion in persons with lactose intolerance.
Miso is a popular dish in Japanese cuisine and it’s made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji, a category of fungus.
Koji adds many digestive enzymes, including lactases, lipases, proteases and amylases, and this is the reason why miso may increase the ability to digest and absorb foods.
Some studies have revealed that the bacteria in miso can decrease symptoms linked to digestive conditions, like irritable bowel disease.
What’s more, fermenting soybeans aids increase their nutritional quality by decreasing their antinutrient content. Antinutrients are substances found often in foods that may delay the absorption of nutrients by binding to them.