Many organs in our body work together to make up your digestive system. These organs take the liquids and food you eat and break them down into simpler forms, such as proteins, carbs, fats, and vitamins. The nutrients are then transported across the small intestine and into the bloodstream, where they provide energy.
Digestive enzymes are necessary for this process, as they break down molecules like fats, proteins, and carbs into even smaller molecules that can be easily absorbed.
Here are 5 foods that contain natural digestive enzymes.
Pineapples are a delicious and amazing tropical fruit rich in digestive enzymes. Pineapples also contain a group of digestive enzymes called bromelain. These enzymes break down protein into its building blocks, including amino acids. This aids the digestion and absorption of proteins. Bromelain can be purchased in powdered form to help tenderize tough meats. It is widely available as a health supplement to help people who struggle to digest proteins.
Papaya is another tropical fruit that is high in digestive enzymes. Like pineapples, papayas also contain proteases that help digest proteins. However, they contain a different group of proteases known as papain. Papain is also available as a digestive supplement. Studies have shown that taking a papaya-based formula may help ease digestive symptoms of IBS, such as constipation and bloating. If you want to eat papayas, just make sure to eat them ripe, as heat exposure can destroy their digestive enzymes.
Mangoes are a deliciously juicy tropical fruit that is popular in summer. They contain the digestive enzymes amylases a group of enzymes that break down carbs from starch into sugars like glucose and maltose. The enzymes in mangoes become more active as the fruit ripens. This is why mangoes become sweeter as they start to ripen. Amylase enzymes are also made by the pancreas and salivary glands. They help break down carbs so that they are easily absorbed by the body.
It’s estimated that Americans consume over 500 million pounds of honey each year. Honey is a delicious liquid rich in many beneficial compounds, including digestive enzymes.
Bananas also contain natural digestive enzymes. They contain amylases and glucosidases, two groups of enzymes that break down complex carbs like starch into smaller and more easily absorbed sugars. Like mangoes, these enzymes break down starch into sugars as bananas start to ripen. That’s why ripe yellow bananas are much sweeter than unripe green bananas.