Digestive Enzymatic Activity and Lipid Digestion
Many people (especially those with gall bladder insufficiency, or who have had their gall bladder removed) have difficulty digesting fats and oils. This is because they lack the bile salts needed for efficient digestion, and therefore lipase (an enzyme that processes fats) is unable to break down these substances. This deprives the individual of many healthy benefits of certain fats and oils. An indication of insufficient oil digestion and absorption, for example, is dry skin, hair and nails.
Fats and oils are complex molecules and because they do not dissolve in water. These molecules enter the small intestine in a congealed mass. Lipase is a water-soluble enzyme and can only attack the surface of the these molecules. To overcome this problem the digestive system uses bile, produced in the liver but stored in the gallbladder, which enters the duodenum via the bile duct. Bile emulsifies fats, breaking them up into small droplets which then become suspended in the watery contents of the digestive tract. Emulsification allows lipase to gain easier access to these lipid molecules and digest them completely.
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