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What Are Plant Enzymes?

By Helena Reimer
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Plant enzymes are substances that help the body to properly digest food and absorb nutrients. They are responsible for the overall well-being of the body and are present in raw foods that have not been exposed to temperatures above 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius). High heat destroys the three-dimensional shape of the plant enzyme and makes it useless within the body. Therefore, the foods should be consumed in their raw state whenever possible in order to obtain the maximum amount from the diet. Enzyme supplements are available from both plant and animal sources.

A deficiency in enzymes can result in a weakened immune system, which in turn can result in many diseases. Plant enzymes and digestion are very closely linked because enzymes are required for breaking down all foods in order for the body to absorb the nutrients. As a result, the organs and all processes within the body depend on the presence of enzymes.

There are basically four groups of plant enzymes, and each one of them is responsible for breaking down a certain type of nutrient. Protease is responsible for breaking down protein, amylase breaks down the sugar, lipase works on the fats, and cellulase helps to break down carbohydrates. Typically, all whole foods contain the necessary enzymes for the body to properly digest that particular food.

The best way to obtain plant enzymes is from raw fruits, vegetables, and plant-based enzyme supplements. The plant-based supplements are commonly obtained from fungal sources but can be obtained from other sources as well. They are said to be more effective than animal-sourced supplements because they are able to work both in the stomach and small intestine. Furthermore, the body is able to produce its own enzymes from amino acid chains, also known as polypeptides.

When it comes to plant versus human enzymes, plant enzymes seem to be a better choice. This is because plant enzymes are able to work in the acidic environment of the stomach as well as in the more alkaline environment in the small intestine. Human enzymes are able to work only in the small intestine. Therefore, plant enzymes can begin the digestive process much sooner, speeding up the digestive process. Another difference between the two enzymes is that plant enzymes can help the body to absorb nutrients in a weak digestive system, which human enzymes are not able to do in many cases.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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