Plant vs. animal-derived enzymes: Which should you use?
Enzymes with the same function, but different characteristics
I have mentioned before that plant-derived enzymes perform very similar functions as their pancreatic counterparts. Trypsin and chymotrypsin are proteases produced by the pancreas. Proteases from plant and fungal sources have trypsin-like functions; they all cleave proteins. But the effectiveness of the enzymes can differ based on their source. Pancreatic enzymes cannot function in acidic environments. The gut goes to great lengths to reduce the acid content in the food mass once it enters the small intestine. Sodium bicarbonate is produced along with the pancreatic enzymes and is released into the gut at the same time. The bicarbonate raises the pH of the food mass and the pancreatic enzymes go to work. Plant enzymes, however, have no pH limitations. They can perform the same job as the pancreatic enzymes, but can do so in acid or alkaline conditions. Plant enzymes are happy to go to work as soon as they dissolve in the stomach fluid and can begin the business of food breakdown much quicker. In fact, by the time the plant enzyme-enhanced food mass enters the small intestine, much of the food will have already been degraded. For the person with food intolerance - the time difference can be crucial. Proteins and peptides (amino acid chains) are not absorbed from the stomach. Using an acid-stable enzyme blend can degrade gluten, casein, soy and other food proteins to an extent that those foods are tolerated once they enter the gut and absorption occurs. Just an example of being similar, yet different, with positive results.