What Are Enzymes?
- Enzymes are proteins – Like other proteins, enzymes consist of long chains of amino acids held together by peptide bonds. they are present in all living cells, where they perform a vital function by controlling the metabolic processes whereby nutrients are converted into energy and fresh cell material. Furthermore, enzymes take part in the breakdown of food materials into simpler compounds. Some of the best know enzymes are those found in the digestive tract where pepsin, trypsin and peptides break down proteins into amino acids, lipase split fats into glycerol and fatty acids, and amylase break down starch into simple sugars.
- Enzymes are catalysts– Enzymes are capable of performing these tasks because, unlike food proteins such as case in agg albumin, gelatine or soya protein, they are catalysts. This means that by their mere presence, and without being consumed in the process, enzymes can speed up chemical processes that would otherwise run very slowly, if at all.
- Enzymes are specific– Contray to inorganic catalyst such asacids, bases, metals and metal oxides, enzymes are very specific. In other words, each enzyme can break down or synthesize one particular compound. In some cases, they limit their action to specific bonds in the compounds with which they react. Most proteases, for instance, can break down several types of rpotein, but in each protein molecule only certain bonds will be cleaved depending on which enzyme is used.
- Enzymes are very efficient catalysts. For example, they enzymes catalase, which is found abundantly in the liver and in the red ablood cells, is so efficient that in one minute one enzyme molecule can catalyze the breakdown of five million molecules of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen.
- Enzymes are part of a sustainable environment. Enzymes are present in all biological systems. They come from natural systems and whey they are degraded, the amino acids of which they are made can be readily absorbed back into nature.
- Enzymes work only on renewable raw materials. Fruit, cereals, milk, fats, meat, cotton, leather and wood are some typical candidates for enzymatic conversion in industry. Both the usable products and the waste of most enzymatic reactions are non-toxic and readily broken down.
- Enzymes are at work in our bodies – Just eat something. One enzyme is already at work in your mouth while you chew; Amylase breaks down starch into smaller sugars – dextrin and maltose. Typical starchy foods are potatoes, pasta and rice. When the food reaches your stomach, acidic gastric juices start to flow from special glands. An important component of these juices is the enzyme pepsin. This is a protein splitting enzyme and it works best in the conditions of high acidity found in the stomach. The partly digested food and gastric juices are then churned around in your stomach and propelled into the duodenum. It is here that another important part of digestion takes