The enzymes are cells responsible for numerous chemical processes taking place in the body. They improve circulation, accelerate healing processes, prevent diseases of the cardiovascular system … They are small molecules present in the body that work in different ways, which are interesting and important to know.
Enzymes fulfill a wide range of functions in cells , such as the synthesis of fats or the breakdown of sugars.
There is a large selection of enzymes, each with a specific function.
What are enzymes?
Enzymes are a type of protein molecule whose main function is biochemical catalysis . That is, they are essential for the body to successfully carry out the different chemical functions, which are divided into two large groups.
- Catabolism: when a person infers a certain food, the body needs to break it down into smaller molecules to obtain the essential nutrients from them, which it uses as an energy source. Thus, proteins are broken down into amino acids and carbohydrates into glucose, for example. It is known as the decomposition process, and the way the body obtains energy is called catabolism.
- Anabolism: the process by which it uses the energy and nutrients obtained to develop cells and body tissues, among other elements, is known as such. Thus, the body is responsible for combining essential nutrients with the DNA of each individual. Well, enzymes are one of the molecules that the body makes from proteins.
Although there are certain enzymes with anabolic functions, the truth is that practically 100% of these molecules are used during the catabolism process . That is why enzymes are limited to accelerating the chemical process.
Definition of enzymes
The body could not carry out a wide range of functions correctly without enzymes, since they play a key role in its proper functioning.
There are different types of enzymes. The most frequent are those that work in the digestion process , breaking down food molecules into smaller pieces so that the body can absorb them. There are also enzymes that act in such a way that they favor the union of several molecules to form a new one.
Each of the body’s enzymes has a specific task and is highly selective.
Types of enzymes
These molecules are classified into six large groups based on their specific action.
- Oxidoreductases: are those that intervene directly with the usual processes of fermentation and respiration. They are essential enzymes in different metabolic chains such as glucose, for example.
- Transferases: within this group are classified those enzymes that catalyze the transfer of molecules to others. In addition, these types of enzymes work on different substrates, their main function being to transfer amine or glucosyl molecules, among others.
- Hydrolases: they are the enzymes that act directly on the protoplasm molecules.
- Liases: these types of enzymes act directly on the bonds between carbon atoms and sulfur, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen.
- Isomerases: these enzymes act on certain substances, which they are responsible for transforming into other isomers. That is, the substances maintain their original formula, but have a different development.
- Ligasas: are those enzymes responsible for joining two molecules.
Enzymes are essential for the proper functioning of the body as they help to carry out a large selection of functions that without them it would be impossible to carry out.
These molecules have a wide range of properties . That is why there are currently different therapies with digestive enzymes that are very effective as a dietary supplement treatment. They help to greatly improve the digestive process , while improving circulation and speeding up the healing process .
In addition, enzymes regulate the immune system . They also have great cleansing and detoxifying actions.
The temperature plays a key role in relation to the properties of enzymes. These molecules are exposed to low temperatures, which favors their development and the performance of their functions. The PH is also very important since it determines the load of the enzymes; positive, negative or neutral. In general, these molecules are complex substances, so that they are sometimes formed from protein on the one hand and from the active part on the other.
Functions of enzymes
Enzymes fulfill a large selection of functions within the body, some of the most important being the following.
In the first place, they are responsible for regulating the different functions performed by the body , paying special attention to the biochemical processes that take place. In addition, enzymes produce movement, such as muscle contractions.
They also play a leading role in cellular respiration. Another key function of enzymes is the breakdown of dietary macromolecules into less complex molecules.
Enzymes create enzymatic chain reactions that are essential for cell life; This process is called the metabolic pathway.
Ultimately, enzymes are extremely important to the overall health of the body. So much so that the malfunction of a single type of enzyme can lead to a life-threatening disease.
How do they work?
Enzymes require a series of elements in order to carry out their work in the body.
- Substrate: it is the specific element on which the enzymes work. Each of these molecules only acts on a certain type of substrate. Thus, by way of example, protease enzymes act on proteins, a specific type of substrate.
- Enzyme: when a certain substrate passes next to its specific enzyme, both elements join, giving rise to the chemical reaction.
- Co-enzymes: for the chemical process to be carried out satisfactorily, some enzymes require the participation of those known as co-enzymes. They are essential complementary elements for the activation of the enzymatic action. Certain nutrients such as some vitamins and minerals are co-enzymes.
It is important to note that each enzyme requires a particular environment in order to carry out its work, especially in relation to PH.
In the same way that any living being, enzymes are born, develop their function, age and, finally, die . When an enzyme has fulfilled its function and the aging process has begun, another enzyme is responsible for devouring it. In this way, an enzyme balance is maintained in the body in which those enzymes that have a greater strength and that, therefore, are more productive, predominate.
Certain substances and elements greatly inhibit enzymatic action, preventing these molecules from developing their activity. Some clear examples are aspirin or penicillin.
Cow’s milk digestion
A good example to understand how enzymes work has to do with the digestion of cow’s milk. The lactase is a type of enzyme which is responsible for breaking down lactose, the sugar present in milk, so that the body is able to digest it .
If the body has lactase, it acts on lactose, giving rise to two new molecules: galactose and glucose . If an individual is lactase deficient, the chemical reaction cannot take place, so the body does not digest milk well.
This is precisely what happens among those people who are lactose intolerant.
The chemical reaction that occurs between lactase and lactose is just one of more than four thousand reactions that enzymes develop in the human body. All of them, as we have pointed out, are essential for the body to function properly.
Foods that promote enzyme function
Enzymes are essential for life, so it is important to pay special attention to diet. In this way, it helps the body protect these molecules and lengthen their useful life.
Thus, it is essential to eat a healthy and balanced diet . For this, it is best to opt for the consumption of foods such as cereals, raw vegetables and all kinds of sprouted foods.
Why are enzymes so important?
Without enzymes, human life would be impossible since the organism could not carry out basic functions for it. All physiological processes develop in an orderly way , so that homeostasis remains intact. On the other hand, when something goes wrong, homeostasis can be seriously impaired.
A serious damage would occur for example with liver cirrhosis . A disorder that affects the liver and impairs the ability of cells to produce enzymes that catalyze the most important metabolic processes, such as synthesizing urea.
There are a number of genetically rare disorders that arise from impaired enzyme activity.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.