Digestive enzymes, which are only a few of the thousands of known enzymes, are complex proteins that are found in the digestive tract.
They are secreted by different glands in the body, including the salivary glands, the stomach and pancreas glands and the glands in the small intestines. They also each have specific sites of action, including the mouth, the stomach, the duodenum and the jejunum.
The human body produces around 22 different types of digestive enzymes, each of which acts on a different type of food.
The number of digestive enzymes produced by our bodies decreases as we age – enzyme production in the body actually decreases by as much as 30% in most adults over 50. Caffeine and alcohol intake, illness, pregnancy, stress, severe weather and exercise can also all take their toll on our finite enzyme reserves.
Luckily, digestive enzymes are also found naturally in fruits, vegetables, herbs and other raw foods.