Lipase and other digestive enzymes are essential for maintaining optimal digestive health. These enzymes first start to work when food comes into contact with saliva. From there, different enzymes perform different functions along the path of the digestive tract.

Let’s take a deeper look into lipase and why it’s essential for proper digestion. Lipase is found in the pancreas and small intestine. Because its primary purpose is to break down lipids, or fats, it’s important to understand how fat affects the body. From there, we can truly understand the importance of lipase and what it does.


How Fats Affect the Body

There are three main types of digestive enzymes:

Amylase breaks down starches and carbohydrates into sugars.

♦ Protease breaks proteins down into amino acids.

♦ Lipase breaks down lipids (fats and oils) into glycerol and fatty acids.

Lipase is for lipids, which means fat.

Fats aren’t all inherently bad. In fact, they’re an important part of a healthy diet. But some fats are better than others, and choosing the right ones can help you better support heart and overall health.

Fats are a nutrient that give your body the energy it needs to run smoothly and effectively. During exercise, your body starts using calories from carbohydrates, but after 20 minutes it switches to burning calories from fats.

Not only do fats help promote normal energy, they support skin and hair health by promoting the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K. 

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Fats are transformed by lipase into essential fatty acids called linoleic and linolenic acids. These two acids are not found in your body naturally; they have to come from food. They are needed for healthy brain development, circulation, and healthy immune responses. 

The confusion over good and bad fats isn’t easy to clear up because all fats have saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are considered bad because they raise your LDL cholesterol levels. Maintaining healthy LDL cholesterol levels helps support heart health. So, you want to eat foods that have more unsaturated fatty acids than saturated, to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

There are also trans fatty acids, which are unhealthy fats that come from vegetable oil that’s hardened through hydrogenation. Sometimes called hydrogenated fats, they’re used to keep foods fresh longer, and they raise LDL cholesterol levels while also lowering your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Understanding Lipase

Lipase takes these fats and breaks them into fatty acids and glycerol, which are then carried by bodily fluids to the areas they’re needed for energy.

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Not all lipase is created equally. Lipase describes the enzymes that break down lipids, but they are further broken down into categories based on the specific roles they play in the digestion process.

a table with food and drinks

But lipase doesn’t work on its own, it needs bile from the gallbladder to break down the fat molecules before it can even begin to go to work.

While we’ve known for some time that lipase is mainly responsible for helping the body process and absorb fat, it has recently been discovered that lipase has other functions as well. Lipoprotein lipase plays a role in triglyceride metabolism. This is a form of fat needed for energy. 

While the body needs triglycerides, it is important to maintain healthy levels for optimal heart support. Lipase breaks these lipids down into smaller molecules that are then used for energy and dispersed.

In addition to adding digestive enzymes in a pill form to help you digest, some foods actually come with their own enzymes that work with your body. One great example is a banana, which is high in carbohydrates, and also contains amylase to help break down those carbs and turn them into energy.

a bunch of bananas on a table

The Bottom Line

Eating the right foods is important to your overall health, but digesting those foods is a critical component of turning this food into useful nutrients and for energy production. Your body cannot process foods and digest them without the help of enzymes. A digestive enzyme supplement that includes lipase is an effective way to make sure you get the most of the healthy fats you consume.