Proteolytic enzymes are a type of enzymes that specifically help the digestion process in our body. They have a role in digesting proteins in our diets and disintegrating them into smaller units known as amino acids.

In this article, we will talk about proteolytic enzymes and how they are a key factor in regulating metabolic functions and assisting in controlling our stamina and energy levels. Enzymes are one of the most important elements in our body. All the minerals and vitamins we take daily through food and all the hormones that our body produces need enzymes in order to function properly.

Enzymes could also be taken as supplements, but the best way to consume them is naturally through certain foods.

What Are Proteolytic Enzymes and how do They Work

Proteolytic enzymes are essentially a type of enzymes that break down the long molecules of proteins into shorter units (aka peptides) and after some time into amino acids. Proteolytic enzymes are also commonly known as protease, proteinase, or peptidase.
The digestive tract in our body creates a large number of essential enzyme types. The main categories of proteolytic enzymes include exopeptidases, that function at the ends of proteins, and endopeptidases, which contain catalytic mechanisms and function at a number of different places.

Humans aren’t the only species that contain proteolytic enzymes, they can also be found in bacteria, algae, certain viruses, plants, and a lot of animals. What makes these enzymes so difficult to obtain through certain diets?

EnzymeIf we often consume foods that have been cooked or processed, the effectiveness of these enzymes is mostly lost. This is the reason a lot of people opt for using supplements during or between their meals.

Even though proteolytic enzymes and digestive enzymes can easily be found in supplement forms, the best way to include them in your body is through eating whole, uncooked fruits and vegetables. These foods provide digestive enzymes naturally, plus they also include antioxidants, vitamins, and electrolytes.

What Are the Benefits of Proteolytic enzymes?

Inflammation Control and Optimizing Blood Flow

Proteolytic enzymes are important regulators that our body needs in order to respond to stresses in the body. When the body is stressed inflammation occurs and it could be dangerous since it is the root of most diseases. The enzymes are there to help out the body respond accordingly to inflammation by providing adequate protection.

Some recent studies show that proteolytic enzymes are very helpful in modulating the inflammatory process in different ways. They can reduce the swelling of mucous membranes, minimize capillary permeability, and dissolve blood clot fibrin deposits in the body.

They can also be helpful in breaking down plasma proteins and cellular debris into smaller compounds if some sort of injury occurs. This extremely eases their passage through the lymphatic system which can lead to a quicker resolution of swelling, with a relief of pain in the affected joints and bones.

All this leads researchers to believe that these enzymes could be great for treating osteoarthritis. Plus, a lot of athletes use them for faster recovery after an exhausting exercise.

proteolytic enzymes against diabetesPreventing Atherosclerosis and Diabetic Heart Disease

Papayas contain a proteolytic enzyme called papain. This enzyme has been shown to have a great role in preventing atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Papayas also contain sources of extremely important vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin A.

These vitamins are beneficial when it comes to the oxidation of cholesterol. Once cholesterol becomes oxidized it can attach to blood vessel walls, and form plaques that could potentially cause heart attacks and strokes.

Vitamin C is helpful in this situation due to its association with a molecule called paraoxonase, an enzyme that is found in LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol oxidation.

Cleaning Up the Immune System

Another benefit of proteolytic enzymes is the potential to naturally kill dangerous cells. Lymphocytes, (natural killer cells) can easily attach to certain tumor cells and virus-infected cells and proceed to kill them.

Protein-destroying enzymes can also help the immune system function normally.
Although immune complexes aren’t a surprise in the immune response when they multiply in a larger number they could cause some types of kidney diseases, nerve inflammations, and rheumatoid arthritis.

There is evidence that trypsin and papain can destroy existing pathogenic immune complexes and prevent their formation from even happening. This leads to a stimulatory effect on the immune system suggesting that proteolytic enzymes are effective boosters of the immune system.

How to Take Proteolytic enzymes?

If you think you aren’t getting enough proteolytic enzymes through your diet you might decide to take supplements.

Before you do, remember that not all supplements are vegetarian or vegan, so try to find those that are adequate for your eating habits. There are some manufacturers that extract their enzymes from animal sources, while others derive them exclusively from plants.

Supplements that include trypsin or chymotrypsin are usually derived from livestock, while supplements that include papain or bromelain are usually from plant sources such as papaya and pineapple.

Protease can also be extracted from fungal sources.

Proteolytic enzyme supplements that contain both animal and plant enzymes could be beneficial for providing several different types of enzymes.

What Dosage Should You Take?

The dosage usually depends on the product you purchase and the concentration of proteolytic enzymes that it contains. Try to start with a lower dose and increase gradually so your body has enough time to adapt.

Remember to pay attention to the directions since dosages are different depending on the specific product. The majority of products suggest taking one to three pills at the same time, and perhaps even more than once a day.

Proteolytic Enzymes – The Verdict

As we have mentioned, proteolytic enzymes have numerous functions in the body such as helping break down food for energy. They can be taken either through certain foods or supplements.
Researchers have found that they could improve digestion, decrease inflammation, and ease arthritis pain in patients.
Some early studies have even suggested that they might be efficient in fighting cancer, but more research is required.
You can benefit your health in numerous ways by including proteolytic enzymes in your diet.

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Allison King
Allison holds a PhD in Biology specializing in cell and molecular biology and undergraduate degree in biochemistry with a minor in theoretical physics. She has taught at four universities in Eastern Canada and currently consults masters and doctoral students. She believes that peer-reviewed scientific research is the best source when looking for information on a given subject. Allison also lives a healthy vegetarian lifestyle and enjoys competing in various races including half marathons and triathlons.