Cellulase is a class of enzymes. There are five main types of this enzyme class, cellulose can be used to describe any of these or a mixture. These enzymes break down cellulose (which is a plant fibre) into simple sugars. This makes plants available for consumption. These enzymes are produced by fungi, bacteria and protozoan.
The Five Main Types Of Cellulase
Cellulase enzymes are classified by the type of reaction that they catalyze. These types are:
- Endocellulases – these randomly split internal bonds, making new chain ends;
- Exocellulases – after endocellulases have created exposed chains, exocellulases split these further by cleaving at two to four units from the ends;
- Cellobiases – these take what has been made by exocellulases and hydrolyse the product to form individual monosaccharides;
- Cellulose Phosphorylases – used phosphates to depolymerize cellulose;
- Oxidative Cellulases – these depolymerize cellulase using radical reactions.
Humans And Cellulase
Humans, and mammals in general, do not produce cellulase. This means that much of the plant material eaten, such as leafy greens, can not be digested. Much of the plant material eaten is digested by gut flora in the large intestine, by fermentation, but this does not fully break down the plant material. A lot goes to waste and is excreted.
However, it is possible to take cellulase as a supplement. Taking these supplements allows cellulose to be broken down into beta-glucose. Glucose is an important blood sugar and in this form it is released slowly and so does not dramatically increase blood sugar levels.
Not only does this make plant material available for the body to absorb, there are further health benefits.:
- Breaking Down Cellulose – Cellulose is broken down into beta-glucose, possibly helping to maintain optimum blood sugar levels;
- Breaking Down Polysaccharides – Cellulase breaks down polysaccharides of microbial films;
- Maintaining Cholesterol At Optimum Levels – Keeping blood cholesterol at needed levels;
- Biofilm Formation – May intervene with the biofilm formation, where cellulose is used, produced by pathogens;
- Support Cell Membranes – Helping to keep cell membranes healthy from toxins and free radicals.
There are a number of benefits to taking Cellulase supplements, as it allows humans to break down cellulose. However, always consult a medical professional before taking supplements, especially if you are already on other medication.