Basics of Biology

Enzymes—and Proteins—at Work

How do I know my enzymes are working?

Obviously, it is difficult to track the activities of all the enzymes required by your body! However, in the case of the enzyme amylase, you can easily check to see if it is working. Amylase is an enzyme in your saliva that starts the breakdown of complex carbohydrates into simple sugars (glucose and maltose). A plain cracker held in the mouth long enough will begin this breakdown, and you will actually begin to taste the sweetness of the enzyme products. Also, lysozyme is an enzyme present in your respiratory tract secretions and tears. It prevents invasion by bacteria—which explains why the warm, moist, open environment of our eyes manages to remain relatively infection-free.


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