One of the most important questions when it comes to health is how to help digestion of starch as it makes up a large part of the average person’s diet. When we talk about plants, they produce a certain molecule during the process of photosynthesis which helps them in storing energy. Foods, including potatoes, wheat and rice, are starch-rich and also provide glucose. As you would know, glucose is used by the body as fuel. A prominent cause of diseases related to liver and digestion, diabetes, food intolerance and obesity, is dietary glucose and the composition of starch in digestive process.
A new study has revealed some new implications for all of the aforementioned diseases as well as some more. In the past few years, researchers have discovered the huge role played in the healthy gut by an extensive circuit of ‘good’ bacteria, commonly known as gut microbiome. Every time you eat vegetables, these bacteria produce enzymes that are responsible for breaking down the starch molecules into tiny little pieces, similar to glucose, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream.
The components of the gut microbiome organisms has been a serious topic because of its close relation to health and digestion and the results from earlier studies that have shown fat mice turning thin and thin mice turning fat due to the alteration in the microbiome. There have been extensive research programs with the aim of discovering all the microorganisms that are present in the human gut and how they help digestion.
A team at The University of Waterloo focused on the comprehensive mechanisms of molecular activities in the enzymes that are responsible for starch digestion. They got into the details of basic components of large and complex starch utilization systems. This system is one of the two that are responsible for breaking down the starch in the microbiomes present in the intestines.
A student at the American Crystallographic Association (ACA) 2015 will present the data related to biochemical activity and crystal structures of two proteins, which are known as GH31 enzymes, which help digestion of starch. One of the team members speaks about these systems and believes that trusting the systems we already have, we can come up with specific predictions. This structural information may reflect greatly on the hidden physiology of these processes. It can also help in developing chemical compounds.
This is essential because it will help determine the enzymes that are responsible for the binding and digestion of starch, which may lead to developing of drugs that would further enhance that activity, regulation of blood glucose levels and addressing the diseases where this entire physiology occurs.