- Digestive enzymes from fungal sources have the ability to survive the digestive process. These enzymes include: protease, lipase, amylase and cellulase
- They are key to the digestive process because they make sure food is completely digested
- Protease is important because it assists in removing protein from the circulatory system
Digestive enzymes extracted from fungal sources generally have the ability to operate over a broad range of acidity conditions (pH 3.5 to 8.5). This means that they can survive the digestive process, the acidity of the stomach and the alkalinity of the small intestine. Fungal based digestive enzymes can therefore assist in digesting food in the stomach and then continue to assist in the process after the food enters the small intestine. This helps to ensure that food is completely digested.
Fungal based enzymes include the following types:
Protease is any enzyme that conducts the process of proteolysis. Proteolysis initiates protein catabolism by hydrolysis of the peptide bonds that link amino acids together in the polypeptide chain. Catabolism is a metabolic pathway which breaks molecules down into smaller units with a resultant release of energy. Hydrolysis is a type of chemical reaction. During hydrolysis, water molecules split into hydroxide and hydrogen ions which may go on to participate in further reactions. Proteins and polypeptides are chains of amino acids which are held together by peptide bonds. Put simply, protease is instrumental in digesting proteins in the food we ingest. Protease is therefore an extremely important enzyme type. If the digestive process remains incomplete, undigested protein can end up in the circulatory system, and in other systems. Protease can assist in removing excess protein from the circulatory system. This has the additional beneficial effect of cleansing the blood stream.
Lipase is any enzyme which is capable of the degradation of lipid molecules. Most of dietary lipids within the body fall within a class called triacylglycerols. Triacylglycerols are attacked by lipases, and this process produces simple fatty acids and glycerol. Fungal lipase is a distinct enzyme whose role is to digest fat. It has the ability to hydrolyze fat in a wide range of conditions, including a wide range of temperatures and acidity/alkalinity (pH). Fungal lipase is also very effective in regulating levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. It is therefore used in supplements designed to help with weight management.
Amylase is an enzyme whose role it is to break down starch into sugar. Amylase is an important constituent of human saliva. When food is ingested, amylase in the saliva initiates the chemical process of digestion. The pancreas produces amylase (known as alpha amylase). Plants, including fungi also produce amylase. Amylase breaks down starch ingested in food such as potatoes and pasta. It breaks down starch into tri and disaccharides which are then converted by other enzymes into glucose. Glucose then supplies the body with energy.
Cellulase is an enzyme which is produced by fungi, but also by protozoans and bacteria. Cellulase acts as a catalyst for the process of hydrolysis (or cellulolysis) of cellulose. Cellulase helps the body to break down fiber which in turn has a beneficial effect on bowel health and regularity.
Scientific research has shown that fungal based digestive enzymes can improve the digestibility and bioaccessibility of carbohydrates and proteins in the small intestine. Fungal based enzymes have the ability to work even where digestion is impaired, for example by illness, or where it is operating under normal, healthy conditions. Studies also showed that fungal digestive enzymes can survive the acidity of the stomach. SF