How do the enzymes work in saliva
Enzymes accelerate metabolic processes by reducing the activation energy required for them. In doing so, they do not shift the chemical equilibrium, but merely ensure that it is established more quickly.
Let us consider, for example, the breakdown of the poorly soluble starch (a polysaccharide made up of up to twenty thousand glucoses) into the easily soluble glucose molecules that can be absorbed and used by the body:
First, the starch in the mouth is broken down into shorter chains (oligosaccharides). In the small intestine, further cleavage takes place into maltose (a disaccharide and the basic building block of starch), then into glucose, a monosaccharide.
A specific enzyme is required for each step in this process. Each enzyme has substrate specificity and specificity of action. In the saliva of the oral cavity, an α-amylase (ptyalin) is involved in the breakdown of starch, in the small intestine another amylase and the enzyme maltase, which hydrolyzes maltose to two glucose molecules. Each of these enzymes can only convert one specific substrate: maltase can only split the disaccharide maltose, amylase of the intestine (from the bile) only oligosaccharides of α-glucose, ptyalin the long polysaccharide chains of starch.
A very simple experiment can show the effects of amylase in the mouth:
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