Enzymes and digestion

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Enzymes are important in digestion. Digestion is the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats into small soluble substances that can be absorbed into the blood.

Lipases and proteases are used in biological detergents, and enzymes are used in the manufacture of food and drink.

The digestive system

Digestion is the breakdown of large molecules into smaller, soluble molecules that can be absorbed into the body. Digestion happens inside the gut, and relies on enzymes.

The enzymes involved in respiration, photosynthesis and protein synthesis work inside cells. Other enzymes are produced by specialised cells and released from them; the digestive enzymes are like this. They pass out into the gut, where they catalyse the breakdown of food molecules.

Different enzymes

Different enzymes catalyse different digestion reactions.

Enzymes and their reactions catalysed

enzymereaction catalysed amylase starch    →    sugars protease proteins    →    amino acids lipase lipids    →    fatty acids + glycerol

Amylase is an example of a carbohydrase. Lipids are fats and oils.

Different parts of the gut

Different parts of the gut produce different enzymes.

Where enzymes are produced

enzymewhere produced amylase salivary glands, pancreas, small intestine protease stomach, pancreas, small intestine lipase pancreas, small intestine


Overall, this means that:

  • Amylase catalyses the breakdown of starch into sugars in the mouth and small intestine.
  • Proteases catalyse the breakdown of…


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