Enzymes are essential to the proper functioning of the human body. Enzymes are catalysts, which cause reactions to occur. The two primary classes of enzymes for maintaining life functions are digestive and metabolic enzymes. The primary digestive enzymes are classified as proteases, amylases and lipases. These enzymes can help breakdown food molecules. Metabolic enzymes are responsible for the repairing and structuring of every cell. Inadequate production of digestive enzymes can have a negative impact on the breakdown of food into the various nutrients our bodies require.
Problems associated with Celiac Disease and Lactose Intolerance
“Celiac disease is an inflammatory disease of the upper small intestine caused by intolerance to gluten.” The small intestine has an inner lining of cells which contain villi (Marks). The substance, known as gluten damages the villi which line the small intestine. When the villi are damaged or inflamed, they are unable to absorb water and other essential nutrients. These nutrients can contain substances such as iron, calcium, vitamins, and folic acid. The healthy and damaged villi can be observed in figure 1. The healthy villi are able to absorb the essential nutrients that they need to function efficiently. The inflammation caused in people with celiac disease, destroys their villi which causes the inner lining of the small intestine to be compressed (Marks). Due to the damaged lining of the small intestine, digestive enzymes which are essential for the complete breakdown of various foods are unable to be produced. This can cause a person to be malnourished. Therefore, the food remains in the digestive tract unabsorbed, as it is fermented by bacteria. This causes bloating and various stomach problems. (“Coeliac Disease and Gluten Intolerance”) The loss of villi in the small intestine reduces the cells surface area, in order for nutrients to be absorbed. The amount of small intestine damaged due to a loss of villi determines the severity of symptoms due to the diseases. Severe signs and symptoms of malabsorption are evident in people whose small intestine is affected by a loss of villi (Marks). Therefore this explains the various problems a person with celiac disease encounters. 1
Lactose intolerance occurs when the body has a hard time digesting dairy products. Lactose is a milk sugar and is broken down by enzymes in the intestinal track, allowing the enzymes to be used as an energy source. Lactase is an enzyme which breaks down lactose. Lactose intolerance occurs when the intestine does not contain lactase (Jackson). Low lactose activity in the small intestine, allows undigested lactose to pass into the colon, where the bacteria are able to convert the sugar into hydrogen gas and organic acids. This causes symptoms such as bloating and cramping (“Lactose Intolerance”). The two causes of lactose intolerance are primary lactase deficiency and secondary lactase deficiency....