Stomach enzymes, also knows as digestive enzymes, chemically break down the food you consume so that it can be absorbed by your body. Various digestive enzymes are found in the mouth, stomach, pancreas, and the small intestines and large intestines.
The gastric enzymes in the stomach are classified based on their functions.
Pepsinogen is secreted by the chief cells in the stomach. When in the stomach, pepsinogen mixes with stomach acid to become pepsin. Consumed proteins are broken down by pepsin to become amino acids and peptide for absorption and use by the body.
Stomach acid, also known as hydrochloric acid or HCl, activates pepsin to aid in the break down of proteins. HCl kills ingested bacteria and viruses. Parietal cells are responsible for the production of stomach acid.
Parietal cells of the stomach are stimulated to produce HCl and intrinsic factor by gastrin. Produced by the stomach’s G cells, gastrin is an endocrine hormone important for proper digestion.Intrinsic factor, or IF, is an important enzyme because it aids in the absorption of Vitamin B12. Intrinsic factor is also produced in the parietal cells of the stomach.
Mucin protects the stomach lining from gastric acid. Gastric acid is extremely strong so that it can effectively destroy ingested viruses and bacteria. The mucous cells secrete mucin and bicarbonate to keep gastric acid from damaging the lining of the stomach.
Most digestive enzyme deficiencies are related to pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, cystic fibrosis or Celiac disease. Some people may experience less severe digestive problems due to stress, food allergies, low stomach acid levels or decreased digestive function due to aging. Any inflammation of the digestive tract can lead to a deficiency in digestive enzymes.
Feeling full after eating very little food, gas, bloating and undigested food in your stool may all indicate a problem with your digestive enzymes. A doctor can positively identify issues by examining a stool sample. Some disorders can be treated by excluding high-allergy foods, like grains and legumes, from your diet. In many cases, enzyme supplements are used to restore stomach enzymes and natural digestive functioning.
A wide variety of digestive enzyme supplements are available. There will always be some disagreement among experts as to the effectiveness of any type of dietary supplements. The effectiveness of digestive enzyme supplements is not reviewed by the FDA. Many people who begin taking supplements feel that they must take them forever. In most cases, this is untrue. Your doctor should be able to help you with specific dietary changes that will improve the function of your digestive tract.Each stomach enzyme performs a specific function. A deficiency of any one can create mild to serious medical issues.A gastrin deficiency can cause acid reflux and a lack of Vitamin B12. Low levels of HCl leads to low pepsin levels and the inability to break down and absorb dietary proteing. Not enough stomach acid can also cause serious illness because HCl works to sterilize the digestive tract and protect it from ingested pathogens. If you think your digestive tract is underperforming, consult your doctor.