Effect of Alpha-galactosidase on Digestive System

Digestion occurs in which the “rate and extent of sugar release from available carbohydrates, by simulating physiological processes occurring in the mouth, stomach and small intestine” (Woolnough, 2010). The focal point of this experiment is to examine the glucose concentration with the help of alpha-galactosidase which all takes place in the path of digestion. To start off, the food (or food solution) used in this experiment was a solution of broken down refried beans. The enzyme Beano was used specifically for this experiment because, as the name suggests, Beano is made specifically for digestive assistance with beans. Beans have a tendency to cause “stress” in the human digestive system. The Beano was used with the refried beans to digest the beans easily. This allows an easy pathway for the glucose to be broken down and for the human body to absorb the glucose. According to a journal abstract written by RJ Levin, “The glucose, galactose, and fructose produced are absorbed across the enterocytes [cell of the intestine] of the upper half of the villus [increase of surface area in order to absorb more nutrients]” (Levin, 1994) In more specific terms, foods are carbohydrates called “oligosaccharides”. In the case of this experiment, refried beans were used as the oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are groups of two to ten monosaccharides bonded together to form the carbohydrate. When entering the body, the enzyme called “salivary amylase” (most commonly known as human saliva) starts the chemical process of digestion of food. The enzyme breaks down the oligosaccharide carbohydrate polymers into monomers called monosaccharides. When oligosaccharides are broken down by digestion, a monomer called monosaccharides are produced. This is because multiple saccharide polymers are broken down into a simple sugar. Included in a human’s digestive system are living microbes in the large intestine that carry out the process of breaking down the carbohydrates. These microbes in human intestines are necessary because the body needs to break down the food into monosaccharides to obtain the nutrients needed for processes such as cell repair, growth, and most importantly energy. The breaking down of the oligosaccharides are essential because “The biological roles of oligosaccharides appear to span the spectrum from those that are trivial, to those that are crucial for the development, growth, function or survival of an organism” (Varki, 1993). However, the refried beans mentioned have starch in which these microbes produce an uncomfortable and bloated feeling like the aforementioned “stress” that beans cause. Although the following experiment was done on a different species an abstract suggests that mammals that consume soybeans “may suffer from a gastrointestinal hypersensitive reactions involving major disturbances in digestive functions” (Sissons, 1982). The use of Beano in this experiment examines the effect of the alpha-galactosidase at varying temperatures as the independent variable which assists the digestion of refried beans. The alpha-galactosidase is used to pinpoint the temperature in which glucose concentration is high or low as the dependent variable.

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