If you are like many people, you skated through biology class in high school learning the bare minimum about the workings of the body, cells, enzymes and all those other components necessary to human and animal life, and then never gave them much thought again. After all, if you are an accountant, what good does knowing the definition of osmosis do in your daily life? But often, especially after we or a loved one have suffered a health problem, we wish that we had known more about biology. The same goes when we try to get healthy or fit. In high school, when it seemed like we would always be young and carefree and never saddled with well, saddle bags, learning the basics of biology, the human body, and nutrition did not seem like such a big deal. But when you are looking to go on a diet and need to understand why eating that slice of pie right before bed resulted in a weight gain in the morning, you can find yourself wishing you had paid a little more attention in biology class.
One element of biology class that you may have learned about and forgot is the enzyme. Enzymes are catalysts that assist the body in performing its necessary biochemical reactions. In layperson’s terms, enzymes are the elements that get the ball rolling on necessary bodily functions. The lipase enzyme is one enzyme that is particularly important. The lipase enzyme is what is known as a digestive enzyme, meaning that it assists the body with digestive processes. When someone eats something fatty, triglycerides – fatty substances in the body – form. The lipase enzyme helps to break down these fatty substances so that the body can more easily absorb them into the intestines and, eventually as these things go, pass them out of the intestines as bodily waste. The lipase enzyme is produced in the pancreas, the mouth and the stomach. The pancreas is the origin point for many important substances in the body, including insulin and glucagon, both hormones that are familiar to diabetics because they are necessary to break sugar down in the bloodstream.
Fortunately for most people, their bodies produce the lipase enzyme in sufficient numbers to help their bodies break down fatty triglycerides and appropriately digest their food. On the other hand, some people, for whatever reason, have trouble producing enough off the lipase enzyme, and for those people, there are lipase supplements on the market that may be recommended by doctors in order to help them enjoy a healthy digestive system.
Lipase enzyme supplements may have other uses, as well. For example, doctors have studied lipase enzymes as a possible method of treatment for a disorder known as celiac disease. When someone suffers from celiac disease, eating gluten in the diet actually causes physical harm to their digestive system. Unfortunately, gluten is a component in many common dietary staples, such as wheat. Over the past few years, you may have noticed labels or stickers on food items cropping up at the grocery store or menu items at your favorite restaurant that say “gluten free.” This is help people who have found that they are suffering from celiac disease make appropriate food choices. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for people with celiac disease to get the proper nutrients. Doctors have since discovered that the lipase enzyme may very well assist people with celiac disease in getting all the nutrients that they need from food. A study of celiac’s patients who received lipase showed promising results, including some weight gain, which is always a problem for people on gluten free diets. It remains to be seen what other medical conditions lipase enzyme supplements can assist.
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