As we all know our digestive system is a complex system where whatever we eat is properly converted into energy, broken into different substances needed for our body and so on. Pancreas is one of the organs which plays a very important role in the digestion of food. It secretes lipase, a form of enzyme which is essential for proper digestion of food. Lipase levels in blood are a major indicator of what could be wrong with the digestive system of a person and subsequently overall health of that individual.
Lipase, or a type of water soluble enzyme produced and secreted by the pancreas, is called pancreatic lipase. It is basically a digestive enzyme and is produced by 2 other organs - liver and stomach. The lipase produced by liver is called hepatic lipase and the one produced by the stomach is called gastric lipase. All these in totality have an impact on the metabolism of the nutrients we consume. Now what does it exactly do?
A number of functions are associated with lipase secreted by the pancreas which ensures our digestive and overall health.
- The breakdown of triglycerides into fatty acids is stimulated and driven by lipase. Some types of lipase enzymes work internally in the living cells for degradation of liquids.
- Metabolism, absorption and movement of lipids all across our body is a very important function of pancreatic lipase. This function is performed predominantly with regards to dietary triglycerides in the digestive system and is very important.
- Lipase from pancreas is essential for digestion and absorption of nutrients in the intestines. If that is not done, the food we eat will not be digested properly and may give rise to gastric problems.
- Maximum cell permeability is retained with the help of lipase. This is essential because then, nutrients will flow easily in the cells and consequently the waste will be thrown out.
- Once the triglycerides are broken down, the pancreatic lipase transforms or converts triglyceride substrates in the ingested oil into monoglycerides and free fatty acids.
- These enzymes or lipases are said to be useful in treating auto immune disorders and enhance a gluten free diet to help diagnose a condition affecting the intestinal tract.
In addition to this, there is another type of lipase produced by the liver, which more or less has the same functions, This is called bile salt dependent lipase. The absorption, successful hydrolysis and breakdown of the fats depends on the availability of bile salts provided by the liver.
As mentioned earlier, lipase is produced by the body itself and its levels, too, are regulated by it. But sometimes that may not suffice, which is when the supplements come into the picture. Typically lipase tablets and lipase powder have become available in the recent times. Lipase is typically obtained in low concentrations as an ingredient of pancreatin from animal sources. These are available as acid resistant or enteric coated tablets, which will dissolve only in the intestines. This is specially to prevent them from getting deactived in the stomach.
Now, attempts are being made to replace pancreatin and lipase supplements from animal sources with those from plant and microbial sources. Even so, commercially lipase is produced primarily from strains of fungi and bacteria. Pancreas problems could be a result of decreased levels of lipase. Hence, maintenance of its levels is important to stay fit and healthy.