Lipase: the digestive enzyme essential for health
Enzymes are substances based on proteins that help stimulate chemical reactions. One of these crucial enzymes for human health is called lipase – What exactly is lipase?
Lipase is one of the most important digestive enzymes released mainly by the pancreas in the small intestine to help the body process and absorb fat.
By helping the body to break down and absorb fat, it does much more for the body than would be expected – it can naturally help the main digestive disorders such as celiac disease and serious health conditions such as cystic fibrosis.
Lipase is often taken in combination with two other vital enzymes: protease and amylase. While lipase breaks down fats, proteins from protease processes and amylase take care of carbohydrates. When all these enzymes are at the right level in your body, digestion and general health can be really optimal.
The lipase test can be done to understand where enzyme levels should be. If you suffer from digestive problems when consuming fatty foods, it could be the fault of a lipase deficiency. Read on to learn how lipase is used in your body and how it can help you or your loved one to overcome some serious health problems.
What is lipase?
Lipase is an enzyme that breaks down fats so that the intestine can absorb them. Lipase hydrolyzes fats such as triglycerides into their components of fatty acid and glycerol molecules. It is found in the blood, gastric juices, pancreatic secretions, intestinal juices and adipose tissues.
The body uses triglycerides to produce energy and needs a certain amount of triglycerides for good health. However, high levels of triglycerides can increase the risk of heart disease and can also be a signal of the metabolic syndrome . This is just one of the reasons why it is important that lipase does its job! What is considered a healthy lipase level varies greatly. Some laboratories say up to 85 Ui / L is a normal value, while others believe up to 160 Ui / L is a normal value.
Can something reduce lipase levels? Yes, research has suggested that fluoridated water may be responsible for the decrease in pancreatic lipase and protease activity. The study, although conducted in pigs, has far-reaching implications related to increased free radical damage and loss of mitochondria production.
This is a good reason to think about the quality of water that is consumed every day because you certainly don’t want water intake to diminish the activity of the much needed digestive enzymes.
The 7 main health benefits
Lipase is absolutely essential for proper fat digestion, which affects so many bodily functions and health conditions. Most people do not need additional lipases. However, if you have any of the following health conditions, it may be helpful to have more of this enzyme.
- An aid for irritable bowel syndrome:supplements containing lipase and other pancreatic enzymes can help reduce gases and heaviness, following a meal especially with a high fat value. These symptoms are commonly associated with digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome .Research has also shown that some patients with irritable bowel syndrome may have exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, which is the inability to properly digest food due to the lack of digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas. A 2010 study examined the prevalence of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in patients with predominant irritable bowel syndrome in diarrhea and found that insufficiency was detected in at least 6.1% of the patients studied. The study focuses on pancreatic enzyme therapy as a way to reduce unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain for patients with irritable bowel syndrome who have underlying pancreatic insufficiency ( 1 ).
- Celiac disease: itis a type of autoimmune disease characterized by an inflammatory response to gluten that damages the tissue within the small intestine. The small intestine is a tube-shaped organ between the stomach and the large intestine, where a high percentage of nutrients are usually absorbed. However, in people with celiac disease, this process stops working properly. Symptoms of celiac disease can include abdominal pain, swelling, weight loss and fatigue ( 2 ). First of all, it is essential to follow a completely gluten-free diet avoiding all products containing wheat , barleyor rye. Furthermore, pancreatic enzymes including lipase have been shown to help treat celiac disease. In a randomized study of children with celiac disease, children who received pancreatic enzyme therapy (including lipase) had modest weight gain compared to those who received placebo. Weight gain occurred during the first month and the study concludes that pancreatic enzymes appear to be particularly useful during the first 30 days after diagnosis. This result is useful and significant as children and adults with celiac disease often suffer from diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain and swelling, fatigue or painful rashes. In fact, about half of all people diagnosed with celiac disease experience weight loss.
- Cystic fibrosis: itis an inherited disease that disrupts the normal functions of epithelial cells, the cells that line the passages of many of our most important organs – including the lungs and the respiratory system, liver, kidneys, skin and reproductive system. People with cystic fibrosis produce disproportionately thick, sticky mucus and often have nutritional deficiencies because the mucus prevents pancreatic enzymes from reaching the intestine. Taking pancreatic enzymes including lipase can help the body of cystic fibrosis to better absorb the necessary nutrients and energy from food (3).
- Gall bladder blockage and malfunction: the gall bladder is a small pear-shaped pouch tucked behind the lobes of the liver. Its main task is to store cholesterol-rich bile that is secreted by the liver and, this bile together with lipase helps the body digest fatty foods. If you have a gallbladder problem or you do not have a gallbladder at all, then an integration that contains lipase can be very useful. Lipase is absolutely essential for proper digestion and fat absorption. If you have had your gallbladder removed, you may have difficulty digesting certain foods, especially fatty ones. Lipase enzymes can be an excellent natural remedy for the gall bladder, as it helps to improve the use of bile and digestion of fats. You may think it is good not to consume or digest fats properly, but without healthy high quality fats in your diet, like omega 3, your well-being will suffer because these fats are essential for good health. Lipase together with bile is what ensures that these healthy fats are properly used when the gallbladder malfunctions, or there is no gall bladder at all.
- Healthy cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health:since lipase helps the body digest fats, a deficiency can lead to higher and unhealthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which in turn can directly contribute to cardiovascular problems. People who are lipase deficient tend to have high levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood. When triglyceride levels approach 1,000 mg / dl, pancreatitis (a severe inflammation of the pancreas) can develop in addition to heart disease. High levels of triglycerides are also linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome ( 5 ).
- Increases nutrient absorption: having sufficient lipase levels helps the body properly absorb vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. It is also extremely important to have the right balance of enzymes to process these foods. Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy is currently the mainstay of treatment for nutrient malabsorption.
- Weight loss: Research has shown that lipase could be complementary to weight loss since it breaks down the fat that is in the body. A few years ago, scientists were able to manipulate lipase and triple its potency by turning on a molecular “switch” that turns the enzyme on and off. In fact they managed to make lipase enzymes work three times more, increasing the digestion of fats 15 to 45% of the time. This scientific discovery published in the journal of the “American Chemical Society” could really help people struggling with obesity and serious related health problems like heart problems and diabetes. Furthermore, knowing and being able to manipulate this enzymatic “ignition switch”, it seems to work for all enzymes.6).
The lipase test
To find out your lipase level, you must have a blood test. Making sure to fast for eight hours before the test. Your doctor may also ask you to stop taking some medicines that could affect the test, including pain medication, such as codeine and morphine, birth control pills, diuretics, cholinergic drugs and others.
Similar to the amylase test, the lipase test is often conducted to check for pancreatic diseases. The lipase test can help diagnose pancreatic problems because it occurs in the blood when the pancreas is damaged. This test can also be done for “normal” levels that can vary between laboratories. However, normal values are generally between 0 and 160 units per liter.
If you find that you have high lipase levels, it could be due to:
- bowel obstruction
- celiac disease
- pancreatic cancer
- pancreas infection or swelling
- duodenal ulcer
In acute pancreatitis, lipase levels are very high, often 5 to 10 times higher than normal. Lipase concentrations generally increase within 4/8 hours from an acute pancreatic attack and remain elevated up to 7 to a maximum of 14 days.
- Lipases are the second most studied group of enzymes and are the easiest to understand.
- Most of the lipid digestion in adults takes place in the upper part of the small intestine and is performed by a pancreatic lipase, which is the lipase secreted by the pancreas.
- As we age, our bodies produce less proteases, lipases and amylases, which means that the digestion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates can be reduced as we age.
- The lipase test is more accurate than the amylase test to diagnose pancreatitis.
- You can have a high level of lipase even if you have no problems with your pancreas.
Where to find it and how to use it
Studies have shown that there are foods that contain lipase including: avocado, nuts, pine nuts, coconut, lupine beans, lentils, chickpeas, oats and eggplant. When it comes to raw seeds and beans, it is best to soak them before consumption because they naturally contain enzyme inhibitors, which can block the enzymatic function.
Lipase supplements are available at specialty stores or online. I recommend a mixture of full spectrum enzymes. They can be derived from animal or plant sources. Lipase is often commonly available in the form of supplementation along with other enzymes such as protease and amylase. Vegan enzyme supplements are also available. In most cases, the lipase in these products is derived from Aspergillus niger. This is a fermented product based on mushrooms rather than ox or pork, which is the most common extract used for lipase supplements.
The dosage may vary depending on the chosen supplement. Talk to your doctor about the right dosage and your specific health conditions. However, the standard dosage is 1-2 capsules three times a day 30 minutes before meals on an empty stomach.
Enzymes should not be given to children under the age of 12 unless under the supervision of a doctor.
Contraindications and warnings
Lipase is a safe supplement for most people. Minor side effects can include nausea, cramps and diarrhea. During pregnancy and lactation, contact your doctor before taking any enzyme supplement. If you have cystic fibrosis, high dosages of lipase could make some of the symptoms worse.
If you are taking medications to aid digestion or digestive enzymes, you should not use lipase without first talking to your doctor.
If you take other digestive enzymes like papain, pepsin, betaine they could destroy the lipase enzymes. To prevent this from happening, it is possible to choose coated enteric enzyme products, which are protected from the destruction of stomach acid.
As always, talk to your doctor before taking any enzyme supplement if you have health problems or are taking other medications or supplements.
- Lipase not only helps your body to break down healthy and unhealthy fats properly, but it also helps absorb vital nutrients from the foods you eat.
- Lipase has been shown to be useful for many common and serious health problems, including, for example, indigestion, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
- It can also make important positive contributions to the health of the gallbladder and heart.
- You can eat all the healthy foods in the world, but having the right levels of vital enzymes like lipase will ensure that those smart choices will ultimately benefit your overall health.
- If you feel that your lipase levels are not what they should be, a simple blood test can give you the answer.