Lipase is a pancreatic enzyme essential to your digestive system. The word “lipase” comes from the Greek word “lipos” which means fat. So, it should be no surprise that its main function is to break down fats in your intestinal tract into smaller more digestible components. Specifically, it converts the triglyceride component found in ingested fats into monoglycerides and two fatty acids. Incomplete digestion of fat allows fat to coat food particles and therefore interferes with the breakdown of other food components such as protein and carbohydrates.
How Normal Digestion Works
Normal digestion of dietary fat is accomplished by lipase and bile. The function of bile, which is produced in the liver and stored/released by the gallbladder, is to emulsify dietary fats to facilitate the work of the lipase. Large fat molecules offer relatively little surface area for lipase to work on. Bile breaks down the large fat molecule into tiny droplets which provides lipase with an enormously increased surface to work on.
Effects of Lipase Deficiency
Since lipase digests fat and unbinds fat-soluble vitamins, people who are deficient in lipase may have a tendency towards high cholesterol, high triglycerides, difficulty losing weight, and either diabetes or prediabetes. Lipase deficient people also have decreased cell permeability, meaning nutrients cannot easily get into cells and waste cannot easily get out. Lipase in the bloodstream modulates cell-wall permeability so that nutrients can more easily enter and wastes exit. Waste-eating enzymes (such as protease, which works on protein) may also be taken to help cleanse the blood of unwanted debris.
Lipase for Celiac Disease Relief
People with celiac disease suffer from a variety of symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss, and fatigue. These symptoms are caused by damage to the intestinal tract from gluten, a protein found in grains. One side effect of the disease is the inability to produce adequate digestive secretions from the pancreas. Some studies have shown that supplementing with lipase may help with this issue.
Lipase for Improved Digestion for People with Cystic Fibrosis
People diagnosed with cystic fibrosis tend to have insufficient pancreas function. Studies show that supplementing with pancreatic enzymes including lipase can often lead to improved digestion, especially of fats.
Lipase for Improved Fat Digestion and Weight Loss
There are a number of studies that show that lipase can significantly increase the body’s ability to digest fat. One such study on people suffering from pancreatic diseases found that large servings of lipase helped stabilize fat digestion in up to 63% of participants. Other studies have shown that supplementing with lipase can help reduce lipid malabsorption and return fat digestion to optimal levels. As a result, supplementation with lipase can help control appetite and support healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Lipase Helps Absorb Vitamins & Minerals More Efficiently
The general function of most digestive enzymes is to help you extract the energy and nutrients from the foods you eat. Lipase assists in this regard by helping us avoid excessive fecal fat loss which occurs when our bodies are unable to break down fats properly and extract the nutrients needed from our food. Proper levels of lipase allow the body to extract vital nutrients and also allow the proper digestion of essential fatty acids.
Lipase for Digestive Health Issues
There are a variety of conditions associated with digestive upset including abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, nausea, heartburn, gas, and loss of appetite. One study of hospital patients showed that supplementing with lipase helped reduce these symptoms. In fact, after eight weeks of use, many of the symptoms were significantly improved in the participants taking the lipase supplement.
More Health Benefits of Lipase
As you can see, there are many benefits associated with this enzyme. Unfortunately, the modern diet is essentially an enzyme-deficient diet - that is, a diet high in cooked and processed foods which leads to a deficiency in natural enzymes, especially lipase as we noted earlier because it is in most foods we typically cook but is destroyed by exposure to heat. If you are like most people who cook these types of foods, you will more than likely benefit from supplementing with digestive enzymes such as lipase. A deficiency or imbalance in lipase, in particular, can play a major role in a variety of health issues including:
- high cholesterol
- high triglycerides
- difficulty losing weight
- diabetes or prediabetes
And even if you eat properly and reduce your intake of cooked and processed foods, studies have shown that as you age, your production of the pancreatic enzymes decreases. What this all means is that for optimal health, unless you're living on an all raw food diet, you need to be supplementing with digestive enzymes that include lipase. Insufficient live digestive enzymes in the diet force the pancreas to overwork and overstress resulting in long-term, non-acute enlargement of the pancreas. Using supplemental enzymes, such as Jon Barron’s Digestive Enzymes, with every meal is one of the simplest things you can do to improve the health of your pancreas, which would otherwise need to produce the required enzymes, as well as taking stress off your gallbladder and liver. And finally, as we mentioned earlier, protein absorption from fatty foods such as fish or seeds can be improved by incorporating supplemental lipase enzymes in the diet.
How to Take Lipase
Lipase is typically found in raw, unheated foods that are high in unrefined fats and oils such as raw egg yolk and raw cream, but since we cook most of our foods, especially raw egg yolk, most of us need to supplement with lipase in both a digestive enzyme formula and a systemic enzyme formula to get its incredible health benefits in the digestive tracts as well as in the bloodstream. Since lipase is unique in its ability to digest fats in the digestive tract, as well as break down fats that make their way to the bloodstream, where they assist in cellular metabolism, you can find lipase in Jon Barron’s Digestive Enzymes and his systemic proteolytic enzyme formula, pHi-Zymes. Do not take any type of proteolytic enzyme: if nursing or pregnant, if you have history of an ulcer, or if taking blood thinners. Do not take days before having elective surgery.
More about the health benefits of proteolytic enzymes.