Starch is an age-old substance that can be traced down the history line. Romans use it to augment their looks like a cosmetic. Egyptians, being more technical, used it as a paste to stiffen weaved clothes and as adhesive. The Chinese were literal about its use to improve paper quality, while Persians and Indians ate it as a dish. Starch is a complex (polysaccharide) which is made up of smaller units called glucose, which are adhered together by glycosides bonds. Its source is very natural, being produced by the relatively low organism, green plants. In pure form, it is a white, odorless and tasteless substance composed of two molecules: amylose and amylopectin. With amylopectin being the larger of the two by 80% to 20% in plants.

Starch Production in Plants

Plants use the process of photosynthesis to produce glucose by using sunlight and carbon dioxide. The glucose is then assembled together as semi-crystalline starch granules which are stored in the plants as food. Its biosynthesis requires micro processes in green plants. The primary unit glucose-1-phosphate is converted to adenophosphate glucose with the use of ATP (Adenotriphosphate). This process is facilitated by the enzyme glucose-1-phosphate adenyltransferase. ADP-glucose is then bonded (1, 4-alphaglycosidic bond) to a growing chain of other glucose residues.

This second process is catalyzed by the enzyme glucose synthase. ADP is released during this second process to produce amylase. 1, 6-alpha glycosides bond is introduced into these chains to produce the branched amylopectin. Then isomerase, the starch debranching enzyme, remove some of these branches. After these processes, the starch produced is stored in chloroplast and amyloplastic of plants. When animals eat starch in plants, it is stored as glycogen, a branched form of amylopectin.

Digesting Starch

The enzyme that breaks (hydrolysis) starch down is known as amylase. It can be found in saliva and pancreases. However, other digestive enzymes find it difficult to digest starch. Thus, in the small intestine, it is digested poorly, while in the colon it is subjected to bacterial degradation. Starch is very important in the nutrition of animals including humans. It constitutes the bulk of our foods, whether it is pasta, porridge, noodles, tapioca, potatoes or plain rice. Its calories are high and it provides sufficient energy for day-to-day workings of the body.

Other Uses of Starch

Starch is soluble in water in high temperature turning into a gelatin-like substance (paste) by losing its semi-crystalline form. During prolonged cooling, it recovers its semi-crystalline form back, hence solidifies. This explains its efficient use as an adhesive.

As a food additive, it serves as concealer, aiding the thickening of foods, such as custard, gravies, and salad dressings and so on; also as sugar for lots of foods and drinks. And in pharmacology, it is used as bulk agents for lots of drugs, particularly capsules. Its commercial uses are a lot pronounced in papermaking, where it is used to coat the paper to make it white as well as strengthens it. Its adhesive property cannot be overemphasized in industrial application.

As a glue, it is used to hold together corrugated boards together to provide a lasting bond. In the laundry business, it is formulated into an easy-to-use product that gives clothes a hardness that pronounces grace and style. Other industries where it is used include textile, printing, bioplastic, biofuel, oil exploration and hydrogen production.



Amylase is part of a six-step digestive process that begins with chewing in the mouth. This triggers the start of a domino effect in firing off mechanisms and secretions:

1. Salivary amylase released in the mouth is the first digestive enzyme to assist in breaking down food into its component molecules, and that process continues after food enters the stomach.

2. The parietal cells of the stomach are then triggered into releasing acids, pepsin and other enzymes, including gastric amylase. And the process of degrading the partially digested food into chyme (a semifluid mass of partly digested food) begins.

3. The acid also has the effect of neutralizing the salivary amylase, allowing gastric amylase to take over.

4. After an hour or so, the chyme is propelled into the duodenum (upper small intestine). It is where the acidity acquired in the stomach triggers the release of the hormone secretion.

5. That, in turn, notifies the pancreas to release hormones, bicarbonate, bile and numerous pancreatic enzymes. Of which, the most relevant are lipase, trypsin, amylase, and nuclease.

6. The bicarbonate changes the acidity of the chyme from acid to alkaline, which has the effect of not only allowing the enzymes to degrade food but also bacteria not capable of surviving in the acid environment of the stomach to break it down further.

Importance of Amylase & Other Digestive Enzymes

It’s a lesser known fact that a growing number of health problems can be linked to nutrient malabsorption due to a lack of digestive enzymes. Amylase, protease, and lipase are the three main and most vital enzymes your body utilizes to digest food. Amylase has the responsibility of helping your body process carbohydrates into simple sugars while protease breaks down protein and lipase is in charge of fat break down. The role of digestive enzymes is to act as catalysts in speeding up specific, life-preserving chemical reactions in the body. Essentially, digestive enzymes assist in breaking down larger molecules into more easily absorbed particles that the body can use to survive and thrive. Without proper levels of amylase and other digestive enzymes, it really is impossible to have your health be at its best.

Amylase Health Benefits

Improved Digestion

amylose and digestion

It’s key that you combine your body’s natural amylase-producing ability with your natural ability to chew. Because if food is not properly broken down in the mouth, then your body has more work to do in order to digest and extract nutrients and energy from whatever you eat. By chewing thoroughly, you give the amylase more time to process any carbs that you have consumed, and the more time amylase has to work the better and quicker your overall digestion will be.

More Energy

I’m sure you know that food not only provides your body with nutrients, but it also provides it with the energy it needs to keep you going on a daily basis. Glucose is the primary sugar molecule that the body uses for energy. And while you never want to have high glucose levels (think diabetes), you want to obtain some glucose in your diet from healthy sources.


A 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research was designed to determine the serum amylase, blood glucose, and the serum lipid profile in 110 type 2 diabetes patients compared to healthy individuals of the same age and sex. The research showed that for the diabetic subjects wherever blood sugar levels were higher, serum amylase activity was found to be significantly lower. This finding was reflective of pancreas malfunction and speaks to the importance of a healthy pancreas producing healthy amounts of amylase.

Alternative Cancer Treatment

When it comes to fighting cancer, people that choose to fight it holistically sometimes incorporate digestive enzymes into their natural cancer treatment plans. The Gonzalez regimen, which Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez developed, is one holistic approach to cancer that combines prescribed diets, nutritional supplements, coffee enemas, and pancreatic enzymes. This regimen is aimed at detoxifying the body, correcting the nervous system imbalances that might lead to impaired general health and supporting natural immune processes. The pancreatic enzymes are believed to be the primary agents within the regimen thought to have direct anticancer effects.

Stress Monitoring

Stress is by far one of the worst things in the world for your health, particularly chronic stress. Research is showing that amylase can be a very helpful and accurate marker of stress levels.

Amylase Testing


Testing can be conducted to measure the level of amylase as well as other enzymes in your blood. Amylase level testing can be done with a blood or urine test. For a urine test, it’s likely a two hour or 24-hour sampling. For a blood test, blood is taken from a vein in your arm. There is more work involved with collecting your urine over a period of time. But there are also no risks, pain or side effects associated with collecting urine samples. If you don’t like needles then the urine test can be a good option.

Typically, there are only low levels of amylase found in the urine or blood. However, if the pancreas or salivary glands become damaged or blocked, then more amylase is often released into the bloodstream and urine. When it comes to blood, amylase levels rise for only a short time. In the urine, amylase may remain high for several days. For a 24-hour urine test, make sure that you drink enough fluids during the test to prevent dehydration and to ensure that you collect enough samples.

There are a lot of medications that can affect amylase test results so prior to testing be sure to let your doctor know about any medications or supplements. A lipase test is often used along with an amylase test to help diagnose and monitor acute pancreatitis, chronic pancreatitis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and pancreatic cancer. Increases in the level of lipase may signal the worsening of these diseases. A lipase test along with an amylase test can help monitor treatment effectiveness and outcomes.

Amylase Test Results

Testing results are usually available within 72 hours. Normal value ranges can vary slightly among different laboratories. For a urine test, the normal range is typically 2.6 to 21.2 international units per hour (IU/h). For a blood test, the normal range is usually 23 to 85 units per liter (U/L). Possible reasons for high amylase levels include:

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), a pancreatic cyst or pancreatic cancer
  • Gallstones that are causing pancreatitis
  • Inflammation of the salivary glands, such as mump.
  • Bowel obstruction or strangulation
  • A stomach ulcer that has caused a hole in the stomach wall
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Kidney failure
  • A ruptured ectopic pregnancy
  • Appendicitis or peritonitis
  • Macroamylasemia, an uncommon and harmless condition in which amylase is bound to a
  • rotein in the blood

Low amylase levels are also something to be concerned about. The following common health issues could actually be a sign of amylase deficiency:

  • Allergies
  • Skin Rashes
  • Gas and constipation
  • Mood swings
  • Carbohydrate and sugar cravings
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Type 2 diabetes

Amylase Potential Side Effects and Caution

Digestive enzymes are essentially nontoxic and typically don’t cause side effects. Occasional side effects of digestive enzymes can include mild gastrointestinal distress, diarrhea or allergic reactions. If any of these effects persist or worsen, you should discontinue use of the supplement and speak with your health care provider. If you take a supplement that includes the digestive enzyme bromelain, then you should know that it has possible cross-reactivity. It can provoke allergic symptoms in people who are sensitive to wheat, celery, papain, carrot, fennel, cypress pollen, and grass pollen, as well as the plant family that includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies and Echinacea. If you’re allergic to any of these foods or plant, then you may find that you’re allergic to bromelain and vice versa.

Digestive enzymes should only be combined with blood-thinning drugs like warfarin (Coumadin) under a doctor’s supervision. Combining bromelain and papain with blood-thinning prescriptions can further increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Some evidence also suggests that bromelain may increase the absorption of certain antibiotics, specifically amoxicillin and tetracycline. Digestive enzymes may also enhance absorption of sedative medicines like benzodiazepines so digestive enzyme supplements should not be combined with sedatives.


Amylopectin, the highly branched molecule, is usually the major component in the starch granule with a(1-4)-linked glucose linear chains and a(1-6)-linked branch points. Crystalline domains of the starch granules are due to the clustered branches of amylopectin chains that are packed together. Whereas the free amylose, amylose complexed with lipids, and branch points of the amylopectin are found in the amorphous region. An alternative arrangement of the crystalline and amorphous region was proposed for the semi-crystalline starch granule. However, there is no clear demarcation between the amorphous and crystalline regions. The crystalline region is less susceptible to enzymatic hydrolysis, water penetration, and other chemical reactions than the amorphous region.

Amylopectin has a lesser tendency to gelation, retrogradation, and syneresis because of the branched structure. The amount of amylopectin varies among different starches. Waxy varieties contain almost 100% amylopectin. The extent of functional characteristics of starch (viscosity, gelatinization, solubility, texture, gel stability, retrogradation, and shear resistance) are directly affected by the amylose/amylopectin ratio. Although amylopectin is the major component of the starch granule, there is no convenient method developed for direct estimation of amylopectin. And studies on amylopectin are dependent on the development of enzymatic and instrumental methods. Average structural properties of the whole molecule and impact of the internal structure of clusters on crystallization have been studied by means of enzymatic and SEC.